Hermes: The Cosmos Is Cold

This was in response to a conversation Hermes and I were having about life being unfair.

I quoted Death, saying: “TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE…”

He responded, saying:

I’m not sure I give a crap about justice. Justice is about making people feel better about misfortune by spreading it around equally.

No one ever became a good person because they were punished. That’s not how it works. Misdeed and punishment are often a downward spiral.

I got something way more useful for you than justice. It is this wisdom:

The cosmos is cold and inhospitable. We must light the hearth fires and welcome people in.

The cosmos is cruel. We must be kind. Our hands must be open to those who are in need.

The cosmos is unfeeling. We must see and hear one another’s suffering, and know that vengeance does not offset it, only bringing respite and joy to the afflicted.

Sentient life matters. It matters because it is unique. It is unique in its capability to be dynamic, to care, to feel empathy and compassion. If you become just like the cosmos, if you become cold, inhospitable, cruel and unfeeling, then you have missed the point of being sentient, of being alive. 

That said: if you run into a douchebag who has missed the entire purpose of being a sentient creature, don’t tolerate said douchebag in a position of power.

If I may insert an aside here: if ever there was a time to sit the American zeitgeist down to have a talk with it, that time is now.

To clarify: a human should do this.

Seriously.

 

 

15 comments

      • Thenea

        Yeah, if I have to name three lessons he’s constantly beating me over the head with… empathy, compassion, forgiveness.

        The more people he gets on board with this, the warmer and more pleasant the community will be. People on the fence gravitate toward communities full of happy, loving, non-judgmental people. Being that kind of person helps to build that kind of community.

        The good shepherd wants a happy flock. If you ask him what kind of service he desires, it’s basically going to mostly boil down to those three things… and you know what? When you really apply yourself? That’s work enough for one lifetime.

  1. celestineday

    If I may insert an aside here: if ever there was a time to sit the American zeitgeist down to have a talk with it, that time is now.

    *tilts head, pondering* Is a zeitgeist something one can sit down and have a talk with? Do zeitgeists have their own spirits? Intriguing thought.

    • Thenea

      Yup. You can talk to the spirit of a magical tradition, of a nation, or of a political party. It can be a useful concept if you are looking to do magic which is really broad brush-strokes.

      • Thenea

        Thank you so much. At present, I’m in no position to do that kind of work. It will take more than one person, but I appreciate you signing on for this. And Hermes foes too, obviously. 😉

      • celestineday

        I just had my first encounter, and thought I should report in with first impressions; especially because I feel anyone else taking up this work will need a bit of warning.

        It was a short encounter, mostly just an introduction. However, it was intense and chaotic, because the presence of the American zeitgeist is intense and chaotic.

        What I saw was something extremely similar to descriptions of the cherubim as clouds of wings and eyes; only this was eagle wings (specifically), American flags (of various forms from America’s history), and gaudy neon lighting. There were probably more things in this cloud that I missed because I was busy trying to introduce myself, introduce the reason I wanted to talk, and also protect myself.

        It isn’t interested in listening. It didn’t respond to me, all it wanted to know what what was I offering? What would I give it? What did I have? And when I tried to introduce the concept that maaaaybe this attitude is kind of a problem, it pressed in on me and I had to throw up some heavy-duty shielding over my normal shielding to keep it from just taking whatever it wanted from me.

        It’s powerful, but nothing an experienced Witch can’t handle. From now on, I’ll know to go in with heavy-duty shielding already on. And maybe some little non-sentient energy bits for it to snack on to keep it calm and focused while I try to talk to it in a meaningful way. I recommend anyone else taking up this work do the same, or something similar. And I would definitely be up for conversing with anyone else trying to talk to it, for sharing impressions, experiences, and advice.

  2. Jules Morrison

    Confer: http://wildhunt.org/2015/11/culture-and-community-restorative-practices-in-the-age-of-social-media.html

    I find I agree with this. When people cry out for justice, what they want is for the injustice to stop, to be prevented from restarting, and its effects (where possible) to be unwound. I want my child back. I want the police to stop beating me. And so on.

    They may also want a mound of corpses of their enemies, but if they were able to give the matter deeper consideration they’d see this is just a lashing-out from a place of pain with no positive outcome. It’s mostly sold on the “prevent from restarting” ticket, but this is ineffective if the enemy-spawning process is intact. (Coming from my relatively amoral nature, I have pondered the question: would it be possible to kill enough people to bring a better world? Conclusion: no. The problem people are the right tail of a harmful-idea distribution curve that encompasses society as a whole. Remove the particular people, and they will be replaced; worse, the distribution will slew reactively in the harmful direction. Iterate this process and you have a mountain of skulls and it doesn’t even work. Only ideas can touch ideas.)

    The two countries I know the most about, UK and USA, seem pretty tangled up in a deontological model of artificial karma, where things are not considered morally right or properly settled until the scales of misery have been balanced. People will actively resist effective proven strategies, because they don’t hurt enough. I can’t see any obvious path to unwind it. Magic, I suppose, is a start.

    • Thenea

      Ooh. That article is good. I want to take a course on that, now.

      I am starting to wonder what the word “moral” even means in our culture. What you describe sounds like a person who is cool-headed enough to actually use reason and philosophy to arrive at the greatest good. To me, that’s morality. People who make decisions or judgments in a reactionary way, or because of mythology, or because someone told them what to think… I have a hard time calling that moral.

      A lot of this “artificial karma” way of thinking that you describe exists because it was considered correct to beat children into compliance. The parenting belief was something like “spare the rod, spoil the child.” People remember fearing their parents, and trying not to get into trouble. Time was, even teachers were encouraged to beat students to ensure compliance, and nowadays, teachers can’t do that, and so they often resort to humiliating students instead. Think of all the jokes you know where a teacher and a student get into a power struggle, and the punchline is that the student winds up being embarrassed, and the listener is supposed to find it funny because “justice” has been done to “the little brat.”

      Our judicial system is really just a scaled-up version of that. Even the mob-justice we see on social media is a version of that. The thing is, though, it’s been proven time and time again that brutalizing people is not an effective way to change their behavior, at home, in the classroom, or in jail. It starts to get unwound when we teach people how to parent and teach without hurting or humiliating their children and students. It changes when the first children who saw how to *actually solve problems* being modeled by their elders come of age.

      Magic is a good tool to help push this along.

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