I often hear friends talk about how they find comfort in God in times of great need, sorrow or trouble. It brings me peace to know these friends are never lonely during trying times. I have always supposed (and still suppose) this comfort is born of the freedom invoked when surrendering to a divine power. Embracing God’s will whether in the moment or as a permanent philosophy, allows a pure form of hope to emerge.
You can surrender without a prayer,
but never really pray without surrender.
You can fight without ever winning,
but never ever win without a fight.”
— From Resist recorded by Rush, written by Neil Peart
Having embraced paganism, I accept that I and I alone am accountable for my actions. For the most part, what happens to me is a result of my deliberate decisions and behavior. Wiccans call this “The Ethic of Self-responsibility”, others call it “personal spiritual authority”. It is through this ethic or this authority that I exert control over my fate or my Wyrd (admittedly, the level of this control varies across time). There is no divine source for forgiveness. There is no method of penance. I do not hope for divine intervention during difficult times. I hope for perseverance. I hope for patience. I hope for reason (as in rationality). All of these things must come from me.
*sigh* This is off-topic for party planning, I know. But I have been thinking about this a lot lately. When faced with a difficult decision, especially one that has consequences for others, I have to remind myself, “I can only control what I do.” So I rely on my perseverance, patience and reason as much as possible. After that, how others react is up to them.
Don’t get me wrong, I am no island. I have near and dear friends that I love and need. And as it stands, I’m chock-full-of resolve, so depending on myself is not an unbearable burden. Quite the opposite in fact. Recognizing my self-efficacy is external to anything divine brings a sense of freedom and great comfort.
Since I do not expect a divine power to forgive me, I must forgive myself. Since I do not believe a higher power will resolve my troubles, I must resolve them myself. My relationship with gods is ever evolving, but I expect no more from them than I am willing to give.
However, to say that I am only accountable to myself is an extremist view. I believe one of the basic tenets of pagan faiths is the same as humanism. We believe that everyone is accountable for themselves, so it must be we believe everyone is capable of enforcing and respecting such accountability. And further we be believe that how we affect others is paramount, “These eight words the Rede fulfull, An ye harm none, do what ye will” (Wiccan Rede).