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Oaths - What's your view?


Guest Herneoakshield
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That my friend is the same question that I was asking, where a conflict arrises. To me, if someone asked me to lie on there behalf thus causing a conflict between a legal oath and an oath to a person, the oath to the person would be null and void. The reason I say that and I dare say this will highlight why I do not consider myself heathern is because in asking me to lie on there behalf on a matter which cannot be seen as something trifling points out that they have little integrity.

 

I was brought up to face the consequencies of any wrong doings I have commited, in asking me to lie in such a situation shows they will not do the same.

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Agreed, but...

 

I'm struggling to think of an example of what I'm wanting to get at, so bear with me...

 

You have a moral oath, freely given & neither extracted or required by the person to whom it is given. Somehow, this contravenes a legal oath that you are later required to make (maybe you know this person was somewhere other than they were supposed to be, but it's not going to affect the case in the slightest, but it could cause huge upset for that person at home... poor example, but you get what I mean). Would you cause that damage and betray an oath you willingly made to uphold an oath that's been forced from you?

 

I ask because I'm trying to work out what I would do. fortunately, it's all hypothetical, but I like 'what if...' games. I've done things that are morally and legally dubious, and I know that I've not been entirely honest to the cops about things because thy would make situations very awkward for myself and others I cared about. There were no oaths given at that point, but there was a conscious decision on my part to lie in order to protect.

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As such if the person or group that an oath of loyalty has been given to acts in a way that is dishonourable or attempts to cause you to do so, they are acting in a manner that is not in keeping with the manner in which the oath was made, nor in the spirit of the oath, in those circumstances then I would view the oathmaker as having been released from the oath for the person/group have not lived up to their part.

 

Storm Raven

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I completely agree with this.

 

There are always occasions where the will be a conflict of loyalties, with or without oaths. In effect, there are 'higher' oaths, even if not ritually sworn - for example, one has taken on a role which demands one acts in a certain manner to keep faith with those one has duty to within that role. That might bring one into conflict with another role one has.

 

Say an elected ruler has to make decisions for those he rules, but also has kinship obligations - which come first? In some countries it will be kin, in others the electorate.

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All I can say is that like with all hypothetical questions you never really know what you would do until you are in that situation. For me, the overriding oath which in some form or another is to search out the truth. My friends know that the truth is something I hold as being very important to the point that if, even years after an event I find out I was wrong I will go back and appologise. Conversly if I find out that someone has lied to me over something serious I will confront them.

 

And before someone says how you would act would depend on the severity of the legal or in the case with what I was and still involved in criminal situation, no, the truth is far more important then an oath to a person.

 

Let me put it this was, if you have made an oath to someone to protect them and their actions caused the death of another, regardless of if it was an accident or not, would you cover for them?

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All I can say is that like with all hypothetical questions you never really know what you would do until you are in that situation. For me, the overriding oath which in some form or another is to search out the truth.

 

249733[/snapback]

 

the situations I have encountered have not been of this sort.

 

let me give you something from real life. Someone I worked with, like myself, was engaged in altering the retirement age for our firm. We were under strict instructions not to divulge anything to anyone outside three of us, our boss, and the board of directors, until the new instructions were published. I had to handle questions from staff members trying to make decisions about whether to retire, whether to refinance their homes or accept a transfer or whatever if the retirement age was about to shift from 60 to 65.

 

My colleague's husband was due to retire, under the old rules, one week after we published the new rules - which would apply to him. He was extremely unhappy with the existing retirement rules but was gradually, with an effort, coming to terms with them. My colleague loved her husband very much, and the stress of coming to terms with retirement was affecting his health - at a time when he needed a heart bypass and stress could cause his death at any time. Had she told him about the new rules in advance of their being published, it could have made things very much easier for him.

 

She kept to the duty of her job.

 

He eventually stayed on at work and had his bypass operation. She had a brain tumour within the year and died from it, six months later. I am still convinced it was the stress of keeping her word that killed her, though no one can be sure what causes these things.

 

I still cry for her. And I still admire her.

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I can only speak for myself and say that in my case itdoes not apply as the chances of me having a wife is so slim a to be none existant. ;)

 

But I do recall that there is something which does say that a wife can opt out of testifying against her husband.

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I can only speak for myself and say that in my case itdoes not apply as the chances of me having a wife is so slim a  to be none existant. :o

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OK no need to rub it in. I will just have to lust after you from afar. :D

 

I would be good with oaths because I can keep a secret for years. The stuff I know......

 

But my path doesn't involve any oaths at all.

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I can only speak for myself and say that in my case itdoes not apply as the chances of me having a wife is so slim a  to be none existant. :o

 

But I do recall that there is something which does say that a wife can opt out of testifying against her husband.

249781[/snapback]

 

:D "life partner" then *grin*

 

But yep, there is something about that, I dont know if it is "can opt out" or cant actually be asked to.

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Life partner? Is that life in straight yeaes (80 years aprox) or life in gay year (80 minutes), please specify :o

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Xalle, if your moral oath came into conflict with the legal oath, then either your judgment in who and what moral oath you made or the use to which the legal oath is being put to would need to be questioned.

 

Storm Raven

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Xalle, if your moral oath came into conflict with the legal oath, then either your judgment in who and what moral oath you made or the use to which the legal oath is being put to would need to be questioned.

 

Storm Raven

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Well I was thinking quite specifically about the instance that Moonhunter mentioned. (MH, please not I am NOT having a go here, just playing this out using your example)

 

The woman made a vow, an oath to her husband. Her work then said, "you must not tell" surely the oath to her husband comes first? She saw her husband suffering, and she let him. She broke her oath to him did she not to keep a secret demanded rather than freely given.

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Ah I see what your getting at. Shurly in her contract tgere would be a confidenciality (or however its spelt) which covers this. I know in my past employment I have had to sign a declaration which ment I was covered by the official secrets act.

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Devils advocate here... but was her first and most important oath not to her husband?

249753[/snapback]

 

Perhaps so, but then the path of honour would be to resign her job. Even then, she cannot unknow what she knew, so she would have had to resign her job before she did the work, in case it put her in that position. Or take a different job with our employer.

 

I doubt her husband would have wanted her to do that, as she loved that job. She would probably not have got another one at the same wage scale either.

 

It caused no friction between them when he found out; he understood the rules about the job; his own job worked to the same rules.

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Being made to sign a contract at work, and as you put it Moon, being given "strict instructions" is not the same as you giving an oath or making a promise. Besides that, you cant pre-empt oaths and promises.

 

I think my point still stands too, otherwise, you would never do anything in life for fear of braking an oath, thats kinda the POINT of oaths. It means.... whatever is thrown at you, good or bad, your oath to me comes first.

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Being made to sign a contract at work, and as you put it Moon, being given "strict instructions" is not the same as you giving an oath or making a promise.

 

I agree that making an oath differs from giving your word. However, as I had pointed out earlier, for some of us, there isn't a lot of difference. Either an oath or the giving of one's word (by agreement or however) can be very wide - as with a marriage vow - or very narrow. In the end, as I see it, it is down to each individual to sort out how to reconcile conflicts, which was the original point I sought to make when I provided the illustration.

 

Besides that, you cant pre-empt oaths and promises.

 

Ah. If you say that to a Heathen we'll immediately think of a couple of tales about Loki. But those were trickster stories really.

 

If one took an oath intending to get out of it, then it comes down to the wording. But those aren't the sort of oaths we were discussing.

 

One thing which does genuinely interest me, given your reaction about the marriage vow - how do you view divorce?

 

I think my point still stands too, otherwise, you would never do anything in life for fear of braking an oath, thats kinda the POINT of oaths. It means.... whatever is thrown at you, good or bad, your oath to me comes first.

249882[/snapback]

 

I began to write a response based on the example I gave, but I'd rather not take that particular example any further, out of respect for a colleague I loved dearly. I hope you won't mind.

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I've been finding this thread everso interesting because it does indeed seem that oaths and honour are intermixed.

 

But as I said before one persons honour at perhaps breaking an oath may not be anothers and honour is certainly not something unique to heathens.

 

Certainly I can give you different people and some would say I had a great deal of personal honour and have never broken an oath of friendship (for instance) and another would tell you I was a dishonourable charlatan who didnt know what friendship is.

 

For myself the only real oath I have made is to family and the only thing they could do which would result in my turning my back and walking away would be if they were guilty of child abuse, animal abuse, rape or abusing the elderly, and similar.

 

Everything else I reckon, I would not only forgive, but probably lie under lawful oath to protect them.

 

So does that make me honourable or a liar ?

 

See its a very sticky subject :D

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Everything else I reckon, I would not only forgive, but probably lie under lawful oath to protect them.

 

So does that make me honourable or a liar ?

 

249901[/snapback]

 

Heh. Have you read or seen The Crucible?

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Everything else I reckon, I would not only forgive, but probably lie under lawful oath to protect them.

 

So does that make me honourable or a liar ?

249901[/snapback]

 

No but Prisoner 445281 does sound about right :D

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I began to write a response based on the example I gave, but I'd rather not take that particular example any further, out of respect for a colleague I loved dearly. I hope you won't mind.

249895[/snapback]

 

Nope I completely understand that hon.

 

One thing which does genuinely interest me, given your reaction about the marriage vow - how do you view divorce?

 

I suppose it depends on the vow made really doesnt it? My mum and dad are divorced (thankfully) and I know plenty of people who have been through it for all the right reasons. Divorce isn't a no no for me, because circumstances dictate. I could stick to my vows but he may not stick to his made in return, its a contract. If he breaks his contract, Im relinquished from mine. But I do think that few people today really think about the vows made, they are all part of the trappings of weddings.

 

That said, I've never been married. I turned my first partner down. We'd lived together for about 4 years at this point, and the reason I turned him down was that I didnt feel he could keep his promises to me... not the other way round. ten years 6 years later we split. So it wasnt a short relationship by any shake of the stick. Now... with my new OH (new... lol thats quite funny) I'd happily make an oath to him. Maybe thats coming back to the same point. Don't make them lightly, but when you do, endeavour to not be the one break them.

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I think oaths which you take on joining a group - usually a religious group, but not necessarily - are not taken because of any suspicion that you can't be trusted, but to give you something in common with everyone else in the group - to give you all a sense of community, common purpose, communion, that sort of thing.

 

Oaths, I would define as vows given in a formal setting.

 

So oaths to some extent define your identity. You are the person of honour who will stand by what you promise. You are one of a group of people who have all made the same vows together to give the group strength in adversity.

 

Oaths should not be broken lightly, but they can be broken, and if they are, it marks a departure from the group ethic you swore into - a change of identity even more momentous than that which accompanied the taking of the oath.

 

Because of the ritual surrounding the oath-taking, the meaning of the oath is embedded in your subconscious, which gives it power to either support you or hinder you. Fuzi's stopping-smoking oath was supportive. My belief in 'till death do you part' actually hindered me for a good long while and affected the breakup of my marriage in not necessarily a good way.

 

The problem with retracting an oath is that, having taken it, you are no longer able to be dispassionate about it or to make the best judgement. I would like to say that the best judgement has to be that which supports your own personal and genetic survival. And then I think about oaths to queen and country which result in death for the individual but possibly greater survival prospects for the community, and I don't know any more.

 

We don't have to take oaths, and I guess the benefits of oath-taking weigh more on the side of the group than the individual. But we can't survive in isolation from the group.

 

Oh dear, this is turning into an unintelligible treatise, so I'll stop now.

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I've been ruminating on the nature of 'oath breaking'. Mainly because the turn the thread has taken towards the marriage oath reminds me of my distress, like Julai's as I slowly came to realise I was heading towards a divorce and could not keep my vow. I had been married for 13 years and another woman in the same church congregation going through the same thing, for twenty five. She said her husband had asked her, in bitterness, what difference it had made being a Christian if one was willing to break that vow? "About five years" was her response. In general terms, I'd agree with her.

 

Back in the days when legal contracts were too expensive for most things (unless you were rich), I'd guess most people got by with oaths, rather like the Romany community do now, at least for horse trading. It was a ritualised giving of one's word. The point of ritual is to make people aware of what they're doing, and that it isn't a passing thing, but something is seriousness, to be kept in mind. To be an 'oath breaker' therefore meant that you weren't to be trusted with anything. In a world where most deals would depend on barter and reputation, this might endanger your livelihood. In a world where, as a man, you might expect to see military action to defend your community, and where military action - then and now - depends on fighting beside people you trust to cover your back and who will cover yours, being a know oath breaker might easily cause your death.

 

These days, it all comes down to fragmented communities and individual conscience. Within communities few oaths are given or made, and one's economic or actual survival doesn't depend upon one's reputation for reliability. Even if I may never use such and such a plumber or builder again, he can resort to "Yellow Pages" and gain another client. (One reason we all try to depend on work of mouth rather than advertising). Having said that, some trades remain which depend upon personal credibility and where advertising will not remedy a lost reputation in oath breaking - journalism is one, being a trade union negotiator is another. I mention those because I have practiced one and my OH the other.

 

That aside, is there any value left in oaths, beyond the purely personal? And how far do those of us who place great value on keeping our word use oaths?

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however you dress it up call it an oath, a pledge, a promise! Its all about doing what you say you will do. If you can't do that then you should not make a pledge or an Oath.

 

Of course there are times when you can't do what you said you would or it goes against the grain of your morals.

 

one example, if the person or people you give your word to turn out to be unable to keep their word or twist what is said to fit their morals then I do not have a problem breaking that commitment.

 

The greatest oath i have is to myself to hold true to my values any oath I make that gets twisted or devalued by a person or a group breeches the greater oath to myself and therefore is void.

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An Oath, is it a Promise you make to yourself? Or a Promise you make to Others? Or a bit of both?

If a Society, Path, Tradition or Orgainsation ask you to Swear a Oath to them. Then maybe the individual should carefully weigh up exactly why the Oath needs to be sworn? Does the Society really need to exact that amount of control over a individual? If the Indivudual is willing and can see the reasons for secrecy then the Individuals common sense should be enough.

If its a Oath to yourself? Then its a personal private thing.

 

Indivual cases escape me as I don't have my Books to hand but wasn't Odin a consumate Oath Breaker?

 

Or maybe we are expacted to behave in a more honourable and better way than our Gods.

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