As Samhain was last weekend and thus a new year has begun, I've been thinking a lot lately about a lot of things: spirituality (which often comes back into my thoughts during the longer months, as though the sleeping earth gives me a chance to reflect without feeling guilt that I'm not outside), relationships, goals both short and long term, where I want my life to be, what I want to be. More to come on that later.
Today I spent a long time pondering the basic tenant of Wicca: "An it harm none, do as thou wilt and what it means to me. oLet's translate that from 17th century Puritan English to the modern wording, shall we?
As long as you don't harm anyone, do what you want.
Hmm. Carte blanche permission to do whatever the hell you want to do in this life? Some take it that way. Some only read the part of that sentence that occurs after the comma. Some people can justify anything as long as it means they don't have to take personal responsiblity for their actions. Some take it to mean as long as you don't INTENTIONALLY harm somone else, do whatever you want. The do whatever you want portion of that program really is a stickier issue than most people want to believe.
I know one woman who uses Wicca as an excuse to explore the darker side of her nature and by doing so left her husband and two children behind. Perhaps she needed to do so, but using a religious belief (I'm Wiccan so I need to follow my path to the end and you're not so I'm more open to change than you) is just a cop-out. Now I'm the first to admit that she's better off leaving them to pursue this downward spiral than dragging them along. But I wonder if she's considered the "an it harm none" applies to her, also?
Recently I found a really disturbing blog about a twenty-something woman who's been married for a year, and has been cheating on her husband wiht various older lovers the entire time they've been married. She justifies it by saying 1) she's entitled (ENTITLED!!) to get her sexual gratification elsewhere because his libido just isn't up to par with hers and 2) as long as he doesn't find out it's not hurting anybody. I'm still astounded at this girl's audacity. I posted a comment the other day (which, surprise surprise, she deleted: only supportive comments on her blog, thank you) that very bluntly said she's not only hurting him and their relationship with the deception, she's hurting herself. And that it's very sad that she doesnt' respect her husband enough to talk to him about her needs; instead she's willing to risk it all for a piece of ass on the side. My point about this is she really seems to think it's not hurting her husband because he doesn't know, as if her actions have no repurcussions in their relationship regardless of whether he's found out. Deep in my gut I feel it's wrong to hide something THAT big from a lifepartner. Did I make her think about it at all...who knows? But it got me thinking about the "harm none".
Wiccan/pagan philosophers often say doing a helpful spell for someone else without their knowledge or permission is actually harmful and unethical. Hmm: ignorance again. So doing something positive OR negative that will directly affect another person without their knowledge is wrong.
When you really think about everything you say and do from as many angles as possible to try to keep from harming another person, does it hinder your own growth? Does it hinder someone else's growth? When does it become a block to keep you from doing whatever you're supposed to be doing in this life? If I avoid an accident and someone else gets in one (physically, karmically, etc) that I couldn't prevent, do I feel guilty?
The line for me is pretty damn clear with it comes to selfish behavior that could harm someone else (like affair blogger): if you do something that you know, deep down, WILL cause harm to another person at some point, it's wrong. If you tried your damndest to keep someone from coming to harm but still followed your heart and conscience and they were harmed anyway, well, maybe that's the way it was supposed to be. Nobody guaranteed our lives would be easy or pain-free. In fact, change and pain and loss and hardship (ishy word, but obstacle isn't any better) has to happen for growth and compassion. Nobody's perfect either, and I've fucked up plenty and hurt people around me both physically and emotionally. All I can do is try to move on and be better.