29 December 2005

Magic word

A few of my readers may feel particularly strongly about a word that jumped out at me from a good review of the illegal wiretapping story provided by Jim Macdonald at Making Light.


I was just musing about the oath in question the other day. If any of my readers have an in with the Norns, now might be a good time to have a word with them.


Reya Mellicker said...

People break oaths all the time. I've thought about this a lot as there are certain oaths we take in Reclaiming initiations that are almost always broken. Why? Are they faulty oaths? For that matter, is the oath of the presidency so flawed that hardly anyone elected can manage to keep it?

Jonathan Korman said...

Not being a Reclaiming initiate, I cannot speak for any of those oaths.

An oath is a vivid declaration of intention. It certainly has a great deal of social honour linked to it --- at least as much as signing a contract, and I would say much more. And if one takes karma seriously, then an oath is at least as weighty in that sphere as well.

Certainly, one can imagine oaths that are deeply impractical, or even contain inner contradictions. The Jain ahimsa-vrata of total nonviolence is intended to be a daily confrontation with its practical challenges. But even that is part of the package; one doesn't become a Jain without knowing what you are getting yourself into.

An oath associated with a profession is pretty much a definition of that profession. If you break the Hippocratic oath, you're just not a doctor any more, you're something else. Likewise, reading the oath of the presidency you see that it is really just a tight little job description.

I don't believe that most presidents have broken their oath. Failing to defend the Consitution? Do you really think we can claim that violation for most presidents?

Reya Mellicker said...

Some presidents have been much more blatant about disrespecting the Constitution than others. Jonathan as usual you will make me do my homework - I have my copy of the Constitution somewhere over there on the bookshelves. The last time I looked at it I was struck by how, at the very least, it has been manipulated by so many presidents.

I'm not being cynical though, honestly. My comment came out of many thoughts I've had about the nature of taking oaths. How many doctors are still practicing who have broken the Hippocratic oath over and over? I hear stories from my clients every day about doctors who just aren't doctors anymore.

It makes me question the process of taking oaths.

Thank you for making me think.

Reya Mellicker said...