I have no trust in the word « ethics ». It seems clear, at first, but the more I think about it, the more doubt settles in. The original transparency is veiled. When you look it up in dictionaries, the notions of morals and ethics superpose, without a precise definition, as it is often the case when we try to deepen our understanding of a word.
It seems that we live, most of the time, on the surface, with a sense of being right, without questioning our vocabulary, for fear if we dug too far, of discovering the complexity of what we are made out of.
In the language of the Thora, very often, a single word has two edges, and might designate two contradictory notions. The face value and the reverse of the same thing. Each element appears with its opposite. Like two connected possibilities. Such are good and evil which, depending on circumstances and behaviors, can turn into one or the other.
When you speak about it, it seems obvious that evil is on the side of the other. Aren’t we the only bearers of sane and « true » ethics? Wasn’t Hitler himself carrying a project meant to save the world?
But aren’t we made out of good and bad together? « And you will be like the Elokims knowing what is good and what is evil » (Gen. 3, 5). Therefore, the first task to undertake, as far as ethics are concerned, should be an effort at distinguishing clearly what is, in us, the proportion of good and the part of evil? Providing we might be able to define these notions.
Furthermore, we must try to unravel what belongs to us personally, what constitutes ourselves and what has to do with our culture, family, social background; what is only illusion in us. — there are millions of little chameleons.
And we must distinguish also in what motivates us what is a matter of feelings, moods, perceptions, what is only passing and what is connected to the intellect, intelligence, and thought...
Or else would there be another dimension, larger, indefinable, which would lead us beyond the world of mere thoughts?
Each one of us, when we think and ask ourselves questions, can only do it such as we are to start with, with what we have acquired. Based on this evidence, every step of one’s itinerary is a personal and unique finding.
One cannot talk about ethics among subjects that are not formed yet, but maybe we could talk about establishing links, ties, and acknowledge their importance for grounding a certain firmness — necessary connections before the building of a subject ; I do not come to life all by myself, without facing someone else, meeting the look of someone else, discovering one’s image in a mirror, and gaining strength from its reflections.
We are not isolated, but connected to each other in the slightest of our actions, caught in a network of constant interferences that affect all of us.
We are in progress, as much as individual subjects as in our connection to others; and this is where ethics might be in the process of being born, of being forged. We are requested on all fronts at the same time. There must be constant, lucid, intellectual vigilance. The History of the Hebrews is a series of attempts at accomplishing the project that we bear.
For me, the most important thing is this work of cleansing: to fight against the idols, to destroy all images, on all fronts at the same time. Without ever forgetting that the first field to cleanse is inside ourselves.
There are only different viewpoints, constantly varying, according to situations and the territories we cross. For us, the truth can only be partial, multiple, for I cannot know myself, seize myself, for I am only a subtle dynamism, in the process of being.
This world is not light but confusion, opacity, Tohu-Bohu. The darkest, and apparently the most disorderly. A world where everything seems meant to trap us, to keep us from fulfilling our destiny of full fledged beings. Responsible at last.
The whole creation, some of our sages of Kabbalah seem to say, leads towards the accomplishment of this ultimate point : and yet we live in a world opaque and veiled … where evidence is not clearly perceptible — that’s the least one can say !
All we can do is to keep working, during our entire lifetime, at refining our perception, to carry it as far as we possibly can. To reveal … the being in myself that I would like seeing emerge, that would bring me a certainty that nothing in my surroundings announces.
Crazy challenge, requesting a strong and intense determination. For I am in the process of being made at each instant.