The first part of acting in accordance with jírileth is the easiest: do as thou wilt. To exercise the power of choice comes naturally to all who think, as it must, and in the hearts of the eldrae qalasír burns bright. We do as we choose, obeying only our need for mélith and the dictates of our own necessities. Thus it has been; thus it shall always be, for jír is the core of our nature.
The second part is more difficult than mere action, for it is right action. To tame the fire of our passions, to discipline ourselves to the Codes and Excellences and to take on talcoríëf, such that we may pursue only our enlightened self-interest with mind and countenance as serene as the moon captured in still water, that is the first challenge of mastery we must each overcome; and yet it is the smallest.
The third part is that which the Canticle of Truth speaks best:
“The Fire burns in the Heart,
Through choice its blaze is stoked.
Can a fire burn without fuel?
When one man takes another’s will;
By this the Flame is quenched.
“This is the first Darkness.
Vile and accursed are they
Who would command another’s soul.
They shall know death beyond this world,
The Twilight City denied them.”
It is the renunciation of kóras, the power of compulsion. At first this seems simple: we may say to ourselves, “I shall not tyrannize; I shall not enslave,” and this task is easy. At second glance, we come to realize the myriad ways in which kóras and choice-theft may hide themselves behind good intentions, and justifications, and by guising itself as mere persuasion, or as duty, or as implicit obligation, and rooting it out of our minds’ gardens becomes a worthy challenge. But this, too, is not the pinnacle.
There will come a time in all our lives when another’s choices, we perceive, will lead them to loss, ruin, even death; when example, advice, and warning all fail; when they stand at the brink, and begin their leap. The highest test of our commitment to jírileth is, when that moment comes, to stand aside.
It is the power of choice that makes us sophont; the Flame that elevates us above clank automata and the lower beasts. To commit choice-theft – even with the best of intentions, and in what you perceive their best interest to be – is to reverse this, to reduce them to little more than an infant, an animal, or a clank; it is to fundamentally violate their self-integrity. Even if it was done out of one’s highest motives, it remains a rape of the soul; the conversion of a person, an end in themselves, to a mere instrumentality for our choices, a chattel of our will.
Thus, we must permit a lesser destruction, for in its avoidance lies a greater one.
“To trade the eternal for the ephemeral
is to sacrifice a greater thing for a lesser.
This trade has no worth.”
– writings of Sardonyx, student of the philosopher Arlannath
It does make a great deal of sense, viewed through that lens, that it does.
Just a quick note to say this is not a/the whole response, by any means, but one of the conclusions I am coming to is a certain, um, inadequate sufficiency of emphasizing non-human values on my part.
Well, this certainly helps put things into perspective, at least from the point of view of abstract morals.
I’m still a bit curious as to how it works out practically in the everyday world for the “man on the street,” though — such as how someone who is on the verge of possibly losing their best friend / closest companion forever would respond (both by action and psychologically) when torn between the conflict of their obligation to respect the other’s liberty and the little voice inside them screaming “STOP THIS! DO SOMETHING!”
(That is to say, I’m curious to know not merely how it should work, but what that actually looks like when real people and everyday situations and relationships enter the mix.)
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