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           This article is excerpted from the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal. 
           Each issue of the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal is published by 
           High Plains Arts and Sciences; P.O. Box 620604, Littleton Co.,  
           80123, a Colorado Non-Profit Corporation, under a Public Domain 
           Copyright, which entitles any person or group of persons to  
           reproduce, in any form whatsoever, any material contained therein 
           without restriction, so long as articles are not condensed or  
           abbreviated in any fashion, and credit is given the original 
                                 IN GRANDMOTHER'S LAP 
                                 Copyright 1987, RMPJ 
           "Morals are the nagging fear that somebody somewhere may be 
           having a good time." --H. L. Mencken 
                What is the difference between one of us and Oral Roberts?  
           Well, hopefully there are lots of differences, but the top one 
           on my list is that I work on being ethical and he is a moralist. 
                The moralist knows how everybody else should behave in order 
           to be a good person, avoid Hell, fit into decent society, etc., 
           etc.  He is quite likely to feel that he is a valid exception to 
           all his own rules, since he can handle temptation and control his 
           outcomes.  His main characteristic is frantic paranoid distrust 
           of other people.  No one should be seen nude, for instance, 
           because this would be un-bearably sexually arousing and lead to 
           promiscuity, neglect of ordinary duties, etc.  He knows he can 
           control himself, but everybody else has to be "protected" from 
           their evil impulses.  His major defence is projection: "I'm not 
           oversexed, and of course I'd never want to be or want to be 
           unfaithful to my wife, but that woman in the (name situation or 
           article of clothing) sure is asking for it.  Ultimate expressions 
           of this type of thinking are wife-beating -- one man said, "When 
           I walked into the self-help group I thought that when they heard 
           what I'd had to put up with they'd con-gratulate me for not 
           having killed her." -- and witch-burning -- "I am a good person.  
           Bad things do not happen to good people.  A bad thing has 
           happened to me.  Somebody did it!  Kill them!" 
                In essence, the moralist is saying "It can't be my fault 
           (I'm not able to face the idea that it might be my fault).  It 
           must be somebody else's fault.  If people would just follow these 
           few simple rules, which I'll be glad to explain to them, nothing 
           would go wrong and I wouldn't have to feel anxious.  But since 
           they won't all follow my rules, everything is their fault, not 
           mine, and I don't have to feel anxious." 
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
                To me this is nauseating.  I have no idea how you "should" 
           behave; who are you?  What's the situation?  Who else is 
           affected?  Even then, the best I could offer would be some 
           suggestions of courses of action which might have good results -- 
            but I don't believe there are any simple rules for human conduct 
           which are always "right."  What I do believe is that ethical 
           behavior consists of choosing your actions such that you can look 
           at yourself in the mirror in the morning without flinching.  
           Which means I can see a Corsican being ethical and killing 
           another person as part of a feud; a gypsy being ethical and 
           defrauding a gaujo.  I suspect that what I mean here is that 
           ethics impel you to be true to your own values, while morals make 
           you want to 
           a) control others, and 
           b) not get caught yourself.  But being ethical implies that they 
           are your own values, which you have thought through and decided 
           to accept, and not just the ones you have swallowed whole from 
           your family or culture. 
                Marjoe, a famous evangelist who later went straight, 
           described preaching hellfire and damnation and then going back to 
           the motel and making love to his girlfriend of the moment -- who 
           had to be flown in from New York so the locals wouldn't know what 
           he was doing.  Oral Roberts says people have to give him $8 
           million, or God will "call him home."  These are examples of 
           people whose highest priority is influencing others, making the 
           right kind of impression - the actuality doesn't seem to be 
           really relevant to their choice-making process. 
                The ethical person, on the other hand, may not care at all 
           about the impression he is erig; he will say in total sincerity 
           "I know I look like a fool for doing it, but I couldn't have 
           lived with myself if I hadn't."  Or even harder, "I know you 
           think I'm being hard and cruel, but I honestly believe this is 
           the best solution in the circumstances." 
                Next issue (are you holding your breath?) the difference be- 
           tween act idealism and absolute idealism, or how to tell a witch 
           from a fundamentalist without a score card. 
              The Spinster Aunt ..........  FROM RMPJ, 2/3/1987 
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 

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