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Reflection 22 (p17 - cont)
Why Do Right? A Secularist's Answer

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It is said that, without a fixed rule for conduct, all guarantees to virtue would be absent. Not so; Secularism recognizes a safe and never-erring basis for moral action, which is taken, not from Revelation, but from the Roman law of the Twelve Tables, which laid down the broad general maxim that "the well-being of the people is the supreme law." This may be taken as a fundamental principle for all time and all nations. The kind of action which will produce such well-being depends, of coarse, upon individual and national circumstances, varied in their character and diversified in their influence. This progressive morality is the principle of the Utilitarian ethics which now govern the civilized world. It is not merely the individual, but society at large, that is considered. To use an analogy from nature, societarian existence may be compared to a beehive. What does the apiarian discover in his studies? Not that every individual bee labors only for individual necessities. No; but that all is subordinated to the general welfare of the hive. If the drones increase, they are expelled or restricted, and well would it be for our human society if all drones who resisted improvement were banished from among us. In the moral world, as in religious societies, there are too many Nothingarians -- individuals who thrive through the good conduct of others, while they themselves do nothing to contribute to the store of the ethical hive. The morality of men, their love, their benevolence, their kindly charity, their mutual tolerance and long- suffering -- all these spring directly from their long-acquired and developed experience. As the poet of Buddhism sings: --

Pray not, the Darkness will not brighten! ask
Nought from the Silence, for it cannot speak!
Vex not your mournful minds with pious pains: --
Ah, brothers, sisters! seek

Nought from the helpless gods by gift and hymn,
Nor bribe with blood, nor feed with fruit and cakes;
Within yourselves deliverance must be sought;
Each man his prison makes!