For the last few months, I’ve been referencing an article
about 6 moral precepts from the field of bio-ethics. The article suggested we hold on to some ways of being together as we enter these times of environmental collapse.
The 6 suggested moral guidelines are:
1. Work hard to grasp the immensity of the change
2. Cultivate radical hope
3. Have a line in the sand
4. Appreciate the astonishing opportunity of life at this time
5. Train your body and mind
6. Act for the future generations of all species
I’d like to draw our attention to one of these every month.
This month, it’s the third precept of: Have a line in the sand.
This is the hardest precept for me to date. This one involves thinking about worst case scenarios and deciding in advance what will be acceptable behaviour and what will not.
We only need think about any situations where good neighbours became enemies to realize and remember we are capable of astonishingly bad behaviour.
This precept reminds me how easy it is for me to close my heart at the thought of a tiny slight. How can I hold my heart open when I might be starving and my neighbour has food she is not giving me? Can I decide to die with dignity and honour, not with anger and violence?
I can’t promise myself that. But this precept advises we allow our minds to think about these kind of horrifying scenarios and try to imagine ourselves with that type of “Fierce Kindness” that my colleage and friend Emma-Louise Elsey is promoting.
Etty Hillesum and Victor Frankl are two that show me the way. They both were in the nightmare that was being Jewish in World War 2. They both found ways to be kind and compassionate in the most difficult of situations.
I can draw inspiration from them and send out a prayer that I will know how to draw on my better self when I will need it most.
“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.” … Etty Hillesum