This is not a story about Boy Scout navigation. It is a story about life navigation.
A compass is a tool used to navigate. The principle of how a compass works is quite simple. A magnetic compass consists of a small, lightweight magnet balanced on a nearly frictionless pivot point. The magnet is generally called a needle. One end of the needle is often marked “N,” for north, or colored in some way to indicate that it points toward north. The needles end is magnetic and detects magnetic fields. When “detected” the needle points in the direction of the magnetic source. So our needle points north because that is where the Earth’s Magnetic pole is located.
So while we are navigating across terrain and observe the compass we are able to keep a bearing on our direction of movement. Simple enough I suppose.
There is another type of compass that is based on the same principles, just different elements. It is one that you build yourself, a ‘DYI’ type thing, and it takes a bit longer than a weekend to build. In this design you are the one that determines North by defining your own source for the pole.
If you have already built one of these compasses I am certain that you will agree with me when I say it is always nice to dust the compass off from time to time and verify our alignment with the arrow on it. If this is your first build hopefully you will have a chance to use it a great deal when crafted.
Caution: Keeping on full alignment with the compass can be a challenge when navigating your journey.
If you find the process to be so challenging that you never build one then I will pray for you and would ask you to give it some reconsideration. It is not that bad, really.
Of course I am speaking of a moral compass. This is where the earth’s pole is replaced with universal truth. And our needle always points to that truth. That way, not only do we have the ability to move in the direction of the moral truth but we also move away from its antithesis.
Moral principles are needed to explain particular moral truths: to explain what makes particular right actions right, what makes particular courageous actions courageous, and so on . And it is our principles that build our foundation as a soul. It is from the foundation that we base our soul’s framework including our elements of decision making. While it is debatable that we can each determine our own moral truth there is in earnest but one universal creator and arbiter of moral.
When we have control over and input into the tools that are used to travel the journey of life, it is a lot less stressful and a great deal more fulfilling. It also hurts more when they fail.
When looking for that North surely we should avoid what God’s word directly prohibits, but we must also apply general principles to determine right from wrong.
If it is our desire to live as principled men, then that is cause enough for using the compass. In the least a man has a general obligation to his fellow man to be of a certain level of moral affirmation that does not bring harm to another.
But the compass serves no purpose other than to point North and there are a lot of possible compasses that could be created. The compass could point towards a big pile of gold but unless we follow the compass it is useless to us. It is our will that makes us move in a direction not the compass. Like everything else in life, it takes effort to succeed.
There is an interesting model I have seen that involves multiple compasses that all work in a single system to point to a true north. Like every system of life there are smaller parts that make the greater whole.
As an arbitrary example let’s examine some of the systems of an animal. There are; skeletal, pulmonary, respiratory, exoskeletal, digestive and so on. The skeletal system is comprised of hundreds of bones. There are many smaller systems that make each of the bones. The scale continues to decline into a micro level of elements quickly as we look deeper into each element. The same is true with all of the other systems. Each is made of smaller and smaller systems. But they all comprise an animal in the macro sense.
So if we look at a moral compass and agree that there is but one universal truth it makes it possible for us to say the truth is then made up of many different systems. One of which is morality. Therefore it yields that morality is more than one thing. There are several moral systems that make up the element moral.
When you discover a new one, make a compass for it and include it as a part of your larger compass that points to the universal truth. This will serve as a test of the accuracy of the smaller compass when universal truth is the whole.
As long as your pole is Universal Truth you will find that if the smaller compass affects the course away from your north then it is not a part of the whole. If it moves you in the same then keep it and monitor it and live it.
My hope is now that the dust is off again that it will take a lot longer for it to collect next time.
~ Eric D. Miller – 2016