On my religious path, I am required to act.
This isn’t a new thing; if you’re a regular reader, you know I mention action from time-to-time and you’re probably sick of reading about it. If you’re not a regular reader, before you lies the potential to become as sick of reading about it as anyone else and all you have to do is click the Follow button.
(Couldn’t resist some minor shilling there. Sorry.)
I am a FlameKeeper, and I am a Kemetic, and both paths require that their adherents act rather than do nothing. Combining them means I pretty much have no choice about it – I will not sit still and watch things happen around me. It’s not in my nature, anyway, so it is just as well that I am on a religious path that suits my sensibilities on the topic.
In addition, all of my actions need to be directed toward a specific goal: upholding ma’at. Now, contrary to popular belief, ma’at is not about what is good or what is moral, per se. Ma’at is about Divine Order, about connections between beings, about continuing creation and growth, and about justice. There isn’t really one word in modern English to pinpoint the definition of ma’at – it is many things in one thing, and it is the keystone in the arch of Kemetic religion.
FlameKeeping has a concept similar to ma’at; as we recognize that everyone and everything are Divine, we recognize the connections between all things, and that the action of one part will impact the whole even if that impact is not immediately knowable. It therefore makes sense to keep those connections in mind when we do things and to act in ways that promote growth and improvement rather than stagnation or devolution.
I know, I know. You’ve read all of this before. It’s hardly a unique viewpoint, but I believe that the results, and consequences, of what we do are far reaching – as Tolkien wrote, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” In fact, I’d go so far as to modify the quote – the smallest person changes the course of the future every day. But, when we think about action to uphold ma’at, and action to encourage the strengthening of the connections between us, we also need to remember that these things are done through utible action.
How is utible action differentiated? It’s simple, actually – utible actions are useful actions. Here’s an example: I went down to my parents’ house to help watch my niece and nephews a few weeks ago. While there, I played Mario Kart with my niece. Now, I own Mario Kart (for multiple systems) and I can play it any time I want, but playing it with my niece at that particular moment not only gave my father a well-deserved break, but it strengthened the bond between my niece and me. So, playing Mario Kart on my own is fun, but playing it with my niece was utible and in ma’at.
Here’s another example – I teach swimming lessons at our local YMCA in the evenings and on Saturday mornings. I also swim laps for my own enjoyment and for exercise. Now, it is easy to see how teaching swimming lessons is utible, and upholds ma’at, but what about swimming laps? Well, swimming laps is not only self-care, but it strengthens my bonds with others in the lap swimming community because we’re doing the same thing. In addition, it improves my health which also strengthens my bonds with my family and friends (community) because I am more able to spend time with them if my health isn’t wonky. In this example, both actions are utible, and both uphold ma’at.
The secret to utible action is that there isn’t a secret, really. We’re each able to tell if what we do is useful, and it is in those useful things that we change the course of the Universe.