Monday, May 06, 2013

Ethics for Magical People: Individuals and Groupthink (3 of 4)

John does not have the same ethical dilemma as Heather’s. In his mind, the spell is simply a “get caught spell.” Also he wants to be on good terms with both her and the Silver Stars. According to the “Stages of Moral Development,” developed by the psychologist Lawrence Kohberg, John is probably at Level Two: Conventional Morality. At this stage, people will conform to the norms of society at large. Within Level Two are two stages: Stage Three: the “good boy or good girl” focused on being “nice” and keeping relationships, and Stage Four: the desire to maintain the social order. John wants to belong to the group, follow the Wiccan Rede, and be friends of Heather. Therefore John decided not to support Heather against the group, but also did not to denigrate her choice of interpretation.

Heather has to decide whether continuing a friendship with John will affect her ethical decision. Heather has to accept that he will stay home and not do the spell. Because Heather feels that John does not support her against the group, she probably needs to distance herself from him. Since John does value her friendship, he will give her that space. Her parting from John should not be done in anger but in respect for his decision.

Life in my neighborhood became intolerable, after one of the gang members committed murder. Although his mother maintained her son’s innocence, he was convicted and sent to prison. At that point, the neighbors decided to evict her since she allowed the gang to stay in her home.  The situation became difficult for me since everyone knew I had called the police, but still spoke to the mother. I was neutral about the mother since I was neither her judge nor jury. The mother knew that I worked with the civil authorities, but still greeted me. Eventually, the gang was broken up and the mother moved to be closer to her son in prison.

For several years, my neighbors did not speak with me. I made my choices knowing that my neighbors would shun me. It hurt but at least I could live with myself since I did what I thought was morally correct. For me, there were no absolutes in ethics, only what I could live with.

I had to consider the consequences of my actions beyond myself. Divination was a way to understand those consequences and to prepare for them. Heather, by walking away from the group, will face the consequences of isolation from both the group and her friend John. Heather will remain true to her interpretation of the Rede.

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