Great deeds and ill deeds often fall within each other's shadow.
Each Thursday I select a Viking quote, sometimes randomly but ofttimes based upon relevance or meaning to my life at that point in time. Despite these phrases being over a thousand years old I believe most can still offer value in modern society and I find it interesting to ponder, weigh and measure them. original im src
This week's Viking quote
Great deeds and ill deeds often fall within each other's shadow - Gísla saga Súrssonar
This quote is from a saga originating in Iceland about a fellow called Gísli who is forced to kill one of his own brother in-law's to avenge the other brother in-law...A sticky situation. On one hand good, the other evil.
I've been in situations over my life in which I've had to act decisively and effectively and some of those actions, when viewed objectively and from a distance, could be construed as bad. Of course, those actions were sanctioned, expected in fact, and whilst they were often incredibly difficult I, and those around me, got it done. The phrase, the greater good, was often used and my compatriots and I tended to simply get our heads down and work. We got paid to do that and so that's what we did.
I've often wonder about those things these days and I guess, if I'm honest, I did at the time also; I knew what I was doing was making a positive difference to a great many others and was simply doing my job however I wondered about the whole good/bad thing, the great deeds/ill deeds thing, if one refers to the wording of the quote above. What one may see as righteous, correct and acceptable another may see as heinous and evil - It's a matter of perspective.
Anyway, enough about me...How do I see this quote relating to us now in modern society?
Well, if we remove the words great deeds and ill deeds and see it from the perspective of decision-making then I think it has a lot of relevance. How though?
Imagine a young person posting sexually-explicit images on Facebook or Instagram and the like...I don't know why they do it to be honest, but lets say it's for the purpose of validation, acceptance, attention and self-esteem. So, the person sees it as a good thing.
But on the flipside what happens down the track when those images potentially come to light during a job application; Personnel departments and recruiters look for that sort of thing to build a character profile of a candidate these days. Hmm, now maybe the thing that seemed such a great idea previously doesn't seem so great now.
I know, it's not a great example but I think it sort of demonstrates how there's often a fine line between good and bad and it must be walked very cautiously; what we do now could work to our detriment later.
Mostly we make decisions based on the information we have at hand at any given point. It's difficult to see into the future with any real clarity so we act in whatever way we decide in the moment and move on. I guess this quote could remind us that we must take caution, weigh and measure our actions and deeds, and tread carefully when it comes to our decisions.
It could also caution us to remember that what we see as good or righteous another may see as evil or wrong; we all see things differently right?
I've only touched on this quote a little and I think there's many more applications for it. We know how our friend Gísli approached this situation and he was hunted down and slain for it...That's not likely to happen to us these days I suppose, but wrong choices can certainly inhibit our forward progress so a little caution is probably wise.
Please feel free to disagree with my interpretation and add your own, tell me a story around this quote or topic or simply react to it and let me know what you think, how you see it, how it relates to you or someone you know.
Design and create your ideal life, don't live it by default - Tomorrow isn't promised so be humble and kind