We often times abide by written laws, whether it be the moral laws of the 10 commandments or revised and administrative code. But we also live by agreed-upon unwritten laws that help us to form society. Loyalty is an instinct, an unwritten law, writes Carolyn Myss in her best-selling book, “Anatomy of the Spirit.”
Unwritten laws are what we generally accept as rightful and honest. We do this with the intent of instilling justice and faithfulness in society. We see examples of unwritten laws all the time in society. Can you think of one?
When shopping in the grocery store, we may navigate our shopping carts to avoid hitting one another or blocking the aisle for others. There’s no law that stipulates how to operate a shopping cart, but we, out of a duty of loyalty and honor to one another, do what is good and make it a practice to be careful in our actions to one another.
Myss writes, “You can feel loyalty with those who share a similar background as you, even if you don’t know them personally.” In our society, unwritten laws help us form a structured society as well as the individual life we live by.
What code of honor do you live by? Myss writes. And she asks us to answer this question as well: If you are raising children, what qualities would you like your children to learn from you?
A little known tale by the Brothers Grimm, “Sweet Porridge,” is an example of how honor and loyalty affect our lives.
A poor little girl and her mother had nothing to eat. The girl went out into the forest, where an old woman gifted her with a little cooking pot. When the girl said, “Cook, little pot, cook,” it would cook up some porridge. When the little girl said, “Stop, little pot, stop,” the pot would stop cooking. The little girl took the pot home and used it to feed herself and her mother so that they were freed from poverty and hunger.
One day the little girl had left, and the mother said, “Cook, little pot, cook,” and the pot cooked. But the mother didn’t know what to say to make the pot stop cooking, and soon the porridge bubbled over the rim of the pot and filled the house. And then it filled the next house. And the next. And then the street was filled and the houses ruined, as if it wanted to satisfy the hunger of the whole world.
Nobody knew how to stop it. When the porridge began to fill the last house, the little girl ran out and said, “Stop, little pot, stop,” and it stopped. In the end anyone who wanted to return home had to eat their way back.
This tale shows what happens when we don’t live by an agreed-upon honor code and serve only our own immediate needs without considering the impact our disloyalty and dishonor will have upon our family and friends.
It also helps to teach us that in some cases, we may not be able to eat our way back out of our problems.
Every relationship we develop, from the most casual to the most intimate, serves the purpose of helping us to become more conscious, says Myss. When we live consciously with unquestionable loyalty and honor, we can “eat our fill,” be of a help to “serve others,” and create a proportionate life in society without “over-eating.”
So, what’s on your plate, and what qualities are you serving to your children?