My philosophical bent leads me into all sorts of nooks and crannies in cognitive cul-de-sacs. The purpose? That is also a philosophical question. Perhaps it simply is a matter of satisfaction and the idea of being born to be productive in a capitalist system, ignoring hypocrisy, and dying forgotten in an old people’s home is not one I can find satisfaction in.

How about you?

Thusly I’ve been contemplating recently what is a soul, and what is spirituality, which have lead me to a working definition of what good and bad are. 

Just to clarify our conceptual framework, this dichotomy is merely a brief reference point and in no way is an attempt to polarise the universe into two boxes, and nor is it relevant to any discussions of karma, one of the monotheisms, or Buddhist harmony. This is merely a reference point.

Justice, common sense, good behaviour, support and connection all have a common core: helping others. This is not only rescuing abandoned kittens, raising awareness of corruption, or being considerate, this is a fundamental core to expanding our senses beyond our personal selves. Our sense of right and wrong emerges from our direct response to injustice and pain, like a mirror.

Helping others is a fantastic moral to live by but only when it is reciprocated in some way. Explore the drama triangle of victim-persecutor-rescuer to understand how being the rescuer inveigles us in toxic relationships.

Theft, murder, rape, slavery, lying, coercion, extortion, corruption and conflict of interests, harassment, ignorance, exploitation, and selfishness are all linked with a single fundamental: inflicting pain on others. An excellent indicator of this imbalance is poor manners, from refusing to let someone merge, or pushing in, marginalising and patronising, to deliberately inflicting harm. Our sense of righteousness and empowerment comes from the weakening and injuring of another: the mirror blocks our view of others.

In the philosophies I’ve come across, helping others = good and inflicting harm = bad. But this is rather too simplistic. 

Sabot are thrown into the machinery!

Is gay sex bad? Sometimes but usually not, and yes when it’s boring. I’ve never had any deities inform me of any moral infraction so I cannot speak to that, and I therefore refer to the above-stated definitions. It is only a morally bad act when it is done to inflict harm where that harm has not been expressly approved of by the men engaging in it.

Is driving a supercharged V8 truck to the shops bad? Yes. CO2 emissions from one person trundling about has 180 years of measurable evidence of greenhouse gasses increasing climate disasters. Stupid Ugly Vehicles combine, as a type of transport, an identifiable group of notable emissions. Therefore, along with the studies proving the effect of poisoning of people along main routes and consequential health costs, pain and misery, the extra resources necessary for a much larger vehicle with concomitant exploitation, the history of manipulative advertising by the fossil fuel industry and car companies, ridiculous energy use inefficiencies, and the studies proving that the types of people who buy and drive such vehicles are much more likely to be aggressive, contemptuous of other’s welfare and safety, and self-righteous, large personal vehicles are fucking evil.

Rewinding back to what a soul is and what spirituality may be: feeling discomfort at the thought that two men are enjoying each other’s company is deeply selfish. And, no, it does not matter if someone wrote in a book somewhere that love can only be experienced by certain categories of people. Supremacist ideologies, spare me. Helping others conveys good, and expending every effort to overcome our discomfort is an effort to that end and is growth of the soul.

Feeling terrified of the world around us and investing in our own needs at the expense of other’s welfare, engaging in hypocrisy by ignoring all the negative effects of cars, refusing to adjust oneself, none of these can improve our spiritual awareness. Choosing the smallest, most efficient and healthiest mode of transport may lead many to cycling. That is if their communities were designed with diverse zoning. Forcing councils to alter zoning is soulful in many ways: helping others is exponential.

I am all for reading but, really, there have been many books written over the millennia which have inflicted a great deal of harm on a great number people. Might be nice if we each investigate where the good and bad begins on our own terms.