Saturday, September 22, 2012

Responsible ideas

We were watching old episodes of "Numb3rs" the other night, and an old lesson came back to haunt me. The episode was about finding the murderer of a scientist who was working on a formula that would predict who would succeed at life based on the block they lived on.  The main character, a mathematician, was horrified that one scientist could kill another over their work. The killer, who had grown up in a poor, violent neighborhood, saw it as preventing a horror every bit as terrible as the eugenics employed by Hitler's Germany.

Ethics in science is something that captures the imaginations of artists, writers and film makers, but it is a topic that the average person doesn't always fully grasp.  Most scientists that I have known will acknowledge that their work could be used to help the world or hurt it. This was an early lesson for me.  While doing data entry for a project, I was kept in the dark by the principal investigator to make certain that I couldn't be subpoenaed by government agencies interested in the work. This protected both me and the people who had been studied. Many scientists, especially social scientists, since the World War II are more careful about what science they pursue. World War II saw science used to justify genocide and develop the atomic bomb.

In the spiritual world, I think we need to be just as cautious about what we put out for other people to use.  You can look no further than mass suicides of the Heaven's Gate cult in 1997 to see why spiritual leaders and thinkers should temper their writing with common sense, compassion and caution. We are responsible for our ideas, for our words, but it is impossible to take full responsibility for what other people do with our ideas. We can only be very careful about explaining ourselves and encouraging.

I have seen many people who are not mentally or socially well who are also drawn to the occult.  Some of these people are genuinely looking for support and healing, while others search for weapons with which they can wound others. I have seen people terrorized by dead animals left on their doorstep or emotional terrorism caused by "black magick". It's as damaging to both parties as it is to all of us as a community. I have also witnessed people who need professional counseling try and fail to heal themselves with spells or rituals, when they needed something very different. The pain and anger I have seen in these people as they realized that magic can't fix everything is hard to see. As a writer, as somebody who passionately believes that we are spiritual beings searching for our best selves, I write to share my journey and to encourage others to trust themselves as they travel their paths.  I cannot claim to be a great leader or teacher, I am simply here and looking to communicate with the world. My hope is that my words are never twisted to mean something I didn't intend, and that they are only used to inspire and to encourage healing.

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