Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Odin and Expediency


If you're the guy in charge, you do what it takes.

Expediency, in the service of love. (See Joseph Fletcher's Situation Ethics.)

You don't shirk from getting your hands dirty if it will help the situation.

You accept failure and even dishonour as a worthy sacrifice for doing what needs to be done to help those you love.

And if it is the world, the very World Tree that you love, expediency may be higher on your priority list than it is for others.

And you may take flack for it.

And if you love the World Tree, that flack may be worth it.

But you have to have the Wisdom to back up any Expediency you may Dare. Because Expediency is always a Risk. If you "do what it takes" and bypass ordinary rules and even ethics, you'd better have the Wisdom to guide it.

The bottom line is that Wisdom is the highest value of all, along with Love. It is not Expediency per se that is the top value. Expediency is Wisdom's Servant, never the other way around, or things go awry.

Because Expediency is a Gamble, things may go wrong. They may not turn up as well as one might like. There might be some messy cleanup to do. One accepts that. One becomes skillful at making a good thing out of a mess.

Odin accepts his mistakes. He admits them. He even "grounds" himself in them, in a certain sense. He accepts their existence, and their possibility, and thus is able to deal fair and square with reality, with no excuses, and no guilt, although he may have remorse. But he moves on and deals with the situation, cleans up the mess that has been made, and tries to make something creative out of it. He composts that which has gone to shit, and returns with fresh manure. (A Freyr-skill, but something Odin, in this sense, is skilled at as well.)

Odin knows that a mistake can never fully be corrected, because the original situation cannot be completely restored. A new equilibrium must be reached, a situation that compensates by creating new goods and new possibilities.

Odin is Expediency in the Service of Wisdom. Loki, on the other hand, is Expediency in the Service of Caprice ; with that formula, he has a good chance of striking good up to half the time. The problem, of course, is the other half. Was it Odin who taught Loki how to make good on his mistakes? Certainly, at first, at least, they both had much to learn from each other, and found their friendship profitable.

Odin sometimes messed with things he knew ethically perhaps he oughtn't have, but he was guided by a love for things and a desire to correct things. A couple times this backfired horribly. His consultation of the mother of three monsters, for instance, who advised the rendexvous with Rind, and the debacle that resulted in his exile. Oh, he knows what it is to be on the outside. Imagine what it must have felt like. But he had to learn how to accept what was, and move from there. He knew how to twirl the soil in his fingers and find new possibilities through the very acceptance of life's grit and texture.

It is by facing facts that we ween unforeseen, magical possibilities.


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