A Mother’s Words to a Soldier in Battle
Isn’t life a battle too? Between hunger and satiation, exposure and shelter, ignorance and knowledge, fear, of the unknown, and the thrill of exploration? Do we not navigate through these choppy states of mind toward fulfillment, enlightenment, and equanimity?
Then there is the never-ending battle between opinions about right and wrong, ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ and judgment, a raucous and often uncivil debate. News media carried comments from a duck hunting zealot on this topic in the past day. He declared, at a prayer meeting, that atheists cannot condemn rape, a harmful violation of unwilling and fearful human selves, because, in his opinion, there is no right and wrong for such folks. And, since there is no ‘judgment day’ for them, those who inflict such harm upon the wives and daughters of atheists may do so without concern for consequences. What good do such words from a fanatically religious darling of inane television, and conservative conferences such as CPAC, do?
Pythagoras, the Ionian Greek mathematician and philosopher, went so far as to say “Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul.” Do animals not put themselves in danger to protect their children, companions, and even humans? Do we not see animals and birds reciprocating kindnesses shown?
What can one then think of a mercenary who deceptively calls to ducks, to simpler beings, with a contraption he created, and shoots them down with deadly weapons they are no match for? Has he not observed these beautiful birds caring for their eggs, their ducklings, and for their companions? How may one judge these actions of such an asymmetrical hunter, employing the wisdom of sages and philosophers of the world?
“Do no harm,” say the wise, of all ways of life, through the ages. Yet some actions are necessary for life; this is explained in one such ancient path that I’m familiar with. Let’s lay that aside for the moment, and ponder ethics and rules with which the secular may live.
“Always do what is right because it is right,” wrote an American mother to her young son in the pacific theater of WWII. A Japanese officer reads the letter, to his soldiers, near the mortally wounded dying boy that he had his soldiers care for with medication they could ill-afford to use. The clip above plays this scene in a heartwarming story from director Clint Eastwood. This mother’s words comforted not only her son, but the Japanese soldiers who knew death was imminent in Iwo Jima. These words touch the human soul.
It is said that a noble person acts selflessly, does the right thing, true to soul and conscience, even when such action is unobserved and unrecorded. This is a distinction of an atheist, for there are no gods or words to fear or tremble at. Nor is there any final judgment, for one who sees all nature as a continuum and an arena for lifelong learning, other than that of one’s conscience, and the innate, altruistic soul.
Does this not ring true to you, to your heart and soul, whatever be your affiliation?