Sunday, May 05, 2013

Ethics for Magical People: Individuals and Groupthink (2 of 4)

However, Heather interpreted the group’s spell to stop “The Shooter” (the serial killer) to be a curse. Disturbed, she objected to doing it. In response, the group told her to “lighten up” and stop being a “fluffy bunny.” Though upset himself, John interpreted the spell as only capturing “The Shooter.”

Devolving into groupthink, the Silver Stars regarded their curse spell to be morally correct. When Heather confronted them with her qualms, they dismissed her as being silly. Since the group does not support her ethics, should Heather stay knowing that her objections are being ignored? Should she leave and let them suffer the consequences of their actions? What can Heather morally live with?

When facing an ethical dilemma, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) advises their students to do a three step process. First ask, “What are the consequences of each act? What are the benefits and harms for each? How will they play out over the long and short-term?” Second, analyze each action. “How do they measure up against various moral principles?”  Finally, make a decision that you can live with.

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) tells their members to map out the dilemma to decide what action to take. CIMA advises that they should resolve the dilemma as quickly as possible since longer the delay, the greater the repercussions will be.  The CIMA suggests asking yourself: “How would I feel if I saw this in a newspaper?”

Since Heather is probably a Wiccan, her guiding principles would be the “Wiccan Rede” (“’An it harm none, do as you will.”), and the “Law of Threefold Return” (“Whatever energy we put out into the world shall return to us multiplied three times.”). If she stays with her group, she tacitly supports their actions. Since she believes that they are in violation of the “Wiccan Rede,” Heather has already voiced her objections. Adding to Heather’s dilemma is the “Law of Threefold Return.” If Heather remains, she will experience the curse’s effect. To be true to the Rede, Heather will have to leave Silver Stars.

There are two Neo-Pagan ethics which I considered in my own dilemma. The first is “Natural Law:” “Actions have consequences. What we choose will expand beyond ourselves.” The second is the Norse concept of Wyrd (soul and fate). Our choices will add to or subtract from the Well of Wyrd. What we do with others will weave our Wyrd into theirs. Therefore together, our fates are intertwined unless we deliberately unravel the threads.

In my case, I had woven my wyrd with that of my neighbors’. With that in mind, I had to choose what to do next. Instead of berating my neighbors for their passivity, I called the police when I felt in danger. My neighbors thought that I was “asking for it,” but the gang ignored me. I felt resistance from my neighbors for “endangering everyone by calling the police.” For me, “Natural Law” meant doing something to keep my home safe. My wyrd would suffer if I did nothing. Also, I did divination to see what if anything my Gods wanted me to do.

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