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Thread: Are Oaths Necessary?

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    Are Oaths Necessary?

    Are Oaths Necessary?


    So many of our younger Heathens get caught up in the dramatic vestiges from the Viking Age. New Heathens get a charge out of making high-sounding oaths. Their idea of oaths are the kind of things that might be better suited to a Conan the Barbarian movie.

    Genuine oaths are much simpler. An oath is a promise. Swearing on the Gods or Wyrd or your mother’s grave is little more than emphasis. The promise itself is what is at the heart of the matter.

    Contracts are formal, written promises. They are oaths backed by a signature stating that the signer will fulfill all of the promised conditions. For example, when I had my garage door fixed, both the repairman and I signed a form that described the work to be done and the compensation to be paid for it. Put into conversational terms, “I promise to repair the pulleys and replace the springs. You promise to pay me one hundred dollars.”

    Our complex society requires these written oaths. They are records of a contract. Should either party fail to keep his promise, it can be used legally to get compensation. In the ancient times, oaths were verbal agreements witnessed by the community. There was no need to write it down because everyone in town knew it. That kind of paperless oath is almost impossible today due to our more complex and populous culture.

    Because of cultural differences and a weakening of integrity in our society, promises do not always have the weight of old. For instance, it is common for an Italian making promises to swear what sound like very powerful oaths, such as “I swear on my mother.” The oaths sound sincere, and he will usually back it up with a tirade, but don’t you believe it. In Italian culture, verbal oaths are virtually meaningless. Going back to Roman times, an Italian oath only had weight if it was on paper. With the Irish it can go either way. Among Englishmen and Northern Europeans, a verbal promise tends to have more weight. The differences are cultural.

    Formal promises are necessary in matters of business and money. Like it or not, but contracts are essential when making any business arrangement from fixing a garage door to selling a house. However, it is a mark of your honor that whether there is a contract or not, you fulfill your part of it. Honor itself ought to be enough incentive for you to keep your promises. Any formal words or paper contracts are to keep the other party honest.

    Yesterday I mentioned Old Jim, a man whose word was good as a contract. Almost half a century ago, there were still places where an honest man could seal a deal with a handshake and a nod. Times have changed. Regardless, it is a matter of personal honor to be the individual whose word is kept and whose promise is as solid as the cliffs of a fjord. It is also wise to remember that as honest as you may be, you cannot expect others to adhere to the same high standards. There are many who live to a less honest standard. Their lack of integrity is no excuse for us to lower our standards.

    http://thortrains.net/blog/2009/06/1...ths-necessary/


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    Trust without Oaths


    One of the most important things is upholding a trust. If you are trusted to do a certain thing, then it is a matter of honor to fulfill it. For example, if a friend trusts you to care for his children for a couple of days, then it is up to you to safeguard them, provide for their needs and try to make it as pleasant an experience for the children as possible.

    Certainly, there are those who feel that oaths and promises must be made to uphold the trust. That is not so. A good individual ought to be able to keep trust without an oath. The oath is implied when that person agrees to take on a responsibility. By undertaking the task, the person is stating by implication that he will fulfill all obligations that it requires. Save the oaths for situations where trust is lacking by one or both parties.

    A person of great trust needs no oaths, contracts or formal promises. I knew such a person. Last year, in these daily lessons, I had mentioned Old Jim. He was a man who had built a solid reputation. To those who knew him, his handshake was better than a contract.

    “Your words are the rope on which you climb or hang.” In matters of trust, your promises are the measure by which your actions are judged. Oaths really do not change anything. An honest man will keep his word whether he makes an oath or not. A vacillating person will waver on his word, even if he takes an oath. A person given to dishonesty will break his word even if he takes the most fearsome oaths.

    Words or the lack of them are no excuse for falling short on a trust. Uphold a trust because it is the right thing to do. Let your actions be the proof of your integrity.

    http://thortrains.net/blog/2009/06/1...without-oaths/


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