Not my soul.
There are chickens outside my window, and I look after them, despite a raging guilt about the very notion of domesticated animals. I’ve still not managed to transfer this guilt into stopping use of all animal products (so I am definitively hypocritical, not just in this sense)but my vegetarianism is strict, and I will not have chickens ground to pulp in the aid of my nutrition. That’s not good for my sense of my self. It may be okay for yours, but, the part of my I don’t let talk often thinks that it isn’t.
I don’t like to proselytise. Everyone has different enough circumstances that it is rude to project your beliefs on others, but I actually think a heavily meaty diet is disrespectful to the world at large. It shows a lack of consideration to the grander state of this planet and your role in it. I am still hypocritical, as there are plenty of other behaviours of mine that fit in the same category. But I’m going to say that, and probably leave it at that, because, like I say, I don’t like projecting my assumptions on the world too much.
Why I feel guilty about making others feel guilty I don’t know. Probably some sense of social etiquette, but I suspect people would be surprised by my strength of feeling considering how quiet I am.
Maybe this quietism is bad for my soul. But maybe morality is as subjective as I tend to believe, and souls aren’t impacted by moral choices, except in as much as someone’s self perception is harmed by dissonances between the internal and the external. The thought process and the action.
And of course. It depends if you choose to define soul. Or if you believe in soul at all.
My current functional definition is something I’ve stolen from Vinay: the soul is the thing within us that makes all of us the same. The notion is that the bit of us that dies is the thing that makes us different from everybody else. The thing left behind (if anything) is the infinite and eternal thing that we all possess.
It’s the sacred unknowable and scary thing that possibly doesn’t exist. The God in our (flesh) machine. If I die before I wake, I leave one pile of corporeal stuff, and possibly continue in something else.
I don’t really believe in that as anything other than a possibility, but possibilities are things that might be. Possibilities are things we can learn from.
Can you do good for something eternal and infinite and immortal?
I doubt it. Massively.
I suspect the only way to honour the magic that may keep us going is to acknowledge it’s possibility and keep in in our minds. Use its metaphor as a way to think about reality in the long term.
Take the long view, show respect for a world that might go on after you stop.
That’s what soul is for.
Illustration by Henry