New Heroism.

I’d like to draw attention to this post by erynn999 concerning an Aboriginal community which, due to a collapse in their fishery this year, has not enough money to buy heating oil. In the winter. In Alaska.

Some of the comments she read in response included statements that the people should just move, or they should get off welfare.

In response to such comments, Erynn wrote this post, which was angry — and I think righteously so.

Self-reliance may well be a heroic virtue — but poor bashing is not. Generosity and hospitality are the Celtic values that should be applicable here. Self reliance as a virtue has nothing to do with blaming the poor for their situation, nor with leaving them alone to die in the winter.

Self reliance cannot be practiced by those who lack the material means to do so, and certainly cannot be practiced by those who have had their livelihood taken away from them, whether by fate (the collapse of a fishery) or by colonial conquest (as in the case of almost all Aboriginal people on this continent).

But those who cannot be self-reliant for lack of the material means are not therefore un-virtuous, nor deserving of scorn. They are un-fortunate, in the sense of one whose fortune turned out for the worse: and they are deserving of our generosity. What miserly and cold hearted people would we be, if we withheld that generosity!

CRs, druids, and celts of this day and age need to find new ways to be heroic. Perhaps one way to do this would be to expand the cirlce of honour: where once the values of generosity and hospitality were intended for one’s family and tribe, and the occasional stranger who happens upon your door, now it should be extended to the whole of humanity. Might this be the new heroic?

Let not rich gifts or great treasures blind you to the poor in their suffering.
— The Testament of Morann.

Do not refuse to share your meat; do not have a niggard [greedy person] for a friend.
— Fionn MacCumhall.

It is riches you love,
Not men; as for us, when we lived,
It was men we loved.

— The Lament of the Old Woman of Baere.

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5 Responses to New Heroism.

  1. erynn999 says:

    I think taking it as a new heroic ideal is a great thing. Thank you.

  2. >Perhaps one way to do this would be to expand the cirlce of honour: where once the values of generosity and hospitality were intended for one’s family and tribe, and the occasional stranger who happens upon your door, now it should be extended to the whole of humanity.

    I support expanding the circle wholeheartedly. Our cultures have grown a lot since ancient times, and we should adapt accordingly the best features of the new culture. Perhaps if European paganism had continued unbroken and in full-strength, it would have developed the same concerns for charity, altruism, and human rights that we see today. Then again, it didn’t continue unbroken, and such concerns were developed to a new level particularly by Christianity. I am comfortable acknowledging that Christian legacy, even being proud of it. Those aspects are now part of our larger culture, and IMO we should not hesitate to embrace them.

  3. Well said

    “CRs, druids, and celts of this day and age need to find new ways to be heroic. Perhaps one way to do this would be to expand the cirlce of honour: where once the values of generosity and hospitality were intended for one’s family and tribe, and the occasional stranger who happens upon your door, now it should be extended to the whole of humanity. Might this be the new heroic”

    Yes.

    Did you hear Obama’s speech today? I think he touched on that wonderfully well.

    It seems to be in our hearts and minds just now.

    dj

    • samgillogly says:

      Re: Well said

      Yes, I thought of his speech as well! In particular, this line stood out to me as especially significant:

      “As the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself.”

      I hope this is a sign that our collective values are shifting for the better.

  4. Anonymous says:

    There is a school of thought that says self-discipline is the necessary and sufficient condition for both moral character and worldly success. If you have self discipline, you will be both economically secure and morally deserving of it; if you lack self discipline, you will be poor and it will be your own fault. To me it all sounds like the Protestant Work Ethic minus the explicitly spiritual justification.

    I’m noticing a common thread with, of all things, ‘The Secret’ – the idea that our experiences are primarily the result of our internal dispositions, a denial that anything happens for reasons truly beyond our control. Psychologists would call that an ‘internal locus of control’, and associate it with a variety of positive outcomes, but it strikes me that this ‘every man for himself’ attitude is one of the most obvious negative outcomes. Which, I might add, don’t tend to get discussed along with the positives, probably since our civilization is biased in favour of the internal locus, the way it is biased in favour of extroversion over introversion. Arguments in favour of the external locus of control (belief in fortune or destiny), and the compassion that should be attendant on it, is one of the benefits that a pagan worldview brings to the table.

    Meg

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