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 Wicca 101 Series - Fifth Installment: Ethics 2 - Scenarios

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Hexeengel

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Join date : 2009-11-30
Age : 36
Location : Minneapolis, MN, USA

PostSubject: Wicca 101 Series - Fifth Installment: Ethics 2 - Scenarios   Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:18 pm

This is the second part of the ethics lesson, some common questions and conundrums.

Veganism/Vegetarianism
I myself used to be a lacto-ovo vegetarian, but realized that I was simply because my ex-fiancé badgered me into it. Veganism/vegetarianism is a fine choice if someone wants to live that way, and done right it can be very healthy. However, I think citing the Rede as the reason is silly. Even if you don't believe in killing animals for food, the plants you eat are still dying, and I've heard of (not actually read though) studies that show that plants scream at supersonic levels when cut down. And, animals kill each other for food naturally, they didn't learn that from humans. And those that aren't predators are still killing plants, and in some cases will eat insects as well. In nature, life comes from death, and I personally don't see why humans should be any different. After all, we're animals and a part of nature ourselves, no matter how hard we may try to remove ourselves from it. This is not to say I agree with all the slaughterhouse and farming practices out there, but even for animals in the more extreme conditions, death seems all the more merciful. And there’s also the argument that, since harm constitutes senseless acts, killing one animal to feed another isn’t truly harm anyway. Overall, I think using the Rede as a justification for one's diet is not only unnecessary, but also somewhat missing the point.

Harm to Self
"None" in the Rede does include the self. However, things like smoking and extreme sports are exceptions of sorts, as long as the person is willing to accept the consequences of engaging in such practices. If one was to get cancer from smoking, it should come as little surprise. If one breaks bones or becomes paralyzed as a result of their sports activities, they have no one to blame but themselves. However, addiction to, dependency on, and/or abuse of such things such as drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, the internet, etc., are serious issues and should be brought to the attention of someone in a position to help, especially some sort of professional therapist and/or counselor. Additionally, as has been stated, one has presumably chosen to engage in these actions (with the exception of addictions; those are not always under the control of the individual), and since harm is, by definition, non-consensual, it is not truly doing harm to one’s self.

Harm in Self-Defense
Also a case of, "as long as you're willing to accept the consequences..." but my personal feeling is also that it is a last/desperate resort. If all other means fail, or the danger is so imminent that there simply is no time except to react on the "Fight or Flight" instinct, then striking back when attacked is permissible. Still, though, there will be consequences to face afterwards, and this should come as no surprise to any Witch. However, there is also the argument that this is not truly harm, since it is not malicious or wanton damage, but in fact warranted actions in reaction to an inflicted situation.

Non-Physical Harm
Thinking before speaking is always a good policy. But of course there are those who are too quick on their feet and then instantly regret what just came out of their mouth. A willingness to accept the consequences of one's actions (or words, in this case) is again the main point.

Harm to Belongings
It is most certainly an inconvenience when one's things are damaged, and can also cause emotional distress. This still plays into one's Karma, but I see it as a kind of "lesser offense" in the great scheme of things. If physical harm is a felony, then harm to belongings is a misdemeanor; still punishable, but not as severely.

Consensual Harm
The key word here is CONSENSUAL. It is assumed that the person being harmed is aware of and has willingly accepted the risks of engaging in such behavior. Only if the person doing the harming goes too far (such as ignoring safe words, the bell at the end of the round, other "stop" signals), is the Rede in violation. However, I feel the need to add that, really, there’s no such thing as consensual harm, since harm in context of the Rede means wanton, malicious acts. Such things as violence, pain, and other hurt can be consensual, but harm cannot.

Initially Harmful Actions and Failure to Act
Sometimes, an initial harmful act can prevent greater and more damaging harm in the future. A personal example, when I ended my relationship with my ex-fiancé, we were both emotionally harmed. It also meant that I had to sacrifice something I had come to enjoy, attending weekly concerts of a local performer at a coffee shop, because my ex-fiancé attended and I wished to cut off all contact with him. However, because of the state our relationship had reached, it was no longer healthy for either of us to remain in it. At the time, I was the only one willing to admit that, so I did what I thought to be right, which was ending the relationship. Now, I believe that both of us are certainly the better for it, but we both had consequences and hurt to deal with as a result of the appropriate action. That, then, is what is at the heart of the Rede. If I had simply worked to avoid the more imminent harm of a break-up, I would have been doing greater harm in the long run. I weighed my options, considered my resulting responsibilities, and made my choice. So, failure to act can also cause harm. This is the way the Rede is said to be a call to action, rather than a passive, permissive statement.

Avoiding Killing Insects
This is damn near impossible for me. Sure, I could walk with a broom, sweeping my path before each step (I've heard of peoples who do so according to cultural customs), but that doesn't work in a car, and I ride in those fairly often. Second, many insects have such a brief lifespan, and not all that complicated an existence either (their purpose is to basically fornicate before they die), that it's hardly lowering their quality of life by squishing them (except that squish = death). Thirdly, there are so many kinds of insects and they reproduce so quickly, their population isn't noticeably affected by said squishing (not that it's OK to thoughtlessly kill anything just because it's not endangered or rare, caveat caveat caveat...). All that said though, I rarely kill bugs on purpose; only if they're on my person or in the kitchen, or else if there's a major infestation of some kind. Otherwise I don't mind the occasional crawly in my home.

Pacifism
I don't believe that the Rede dictates this either. As was already discussed, “harm" and "hurt/pain/violence" are different things. There are Wiccans who choose to enlist in the armed forces feel the Rede certainly allows it, as they believe their Will (the correct, just, and appropriate thing to do) is to defend their country.
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Wicca 101 Series - Fifth Installment: Ethics 2 - Scenarios
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