So I want to thank SalemWitchChild for inspiring my muse. :)
And this is not a response to your response, SalemWitchChild. If you read this, I want you to know I'm not arguing with you or snarking at you. As I said... you inspired me to hop over to PBP and think over my own thoughts on the subject.
Be warned if you are easily offended by someone standing up for what's good and right and true to their own heart and family, then don't read any further. I think I hit most big trigger subjects. So, read ahead at your own peril.
The prompt was here: http://paganprompts.blogspot.com/2013/05/prompt-it-harm-none.html
And I quote: "Today's prompt is about the Wiccan Rede. What do you think of the Rede? Do you follow it? There are about a billion ways to interpret that last line, "An it harm none, do as thou wilt". What does this personally mean to you? Does this mean as long as you aren't harming anyone...you're good to go? What constitutes harm? Does it carry over into animal rights? Does it cover even commonplace things like ear piercings or tattoos? YOU are included in the "harm none" clause, so does this mean you should hold yourself to a healthy lifestyle that doesn't harm your body?
What do you all think?"
What do you think of the rede?
I think as a base philosophy - note that I don't use the words morality or moral code. This is a personal preference; when it is a belief to live by, "philosophy" just seems to fit better, in my opinion, than "morality." People have been murdered and mutilated in the name of moral codes, some of which were in the disguise of religion. Most philosophers just sit and argue you to death. (An it harm none...) Morality, to me, is something imposed by an external source (like a parent or a religion or a government) while philosophy is something internal, something you choose for yourself. *ahem* Now that I've addressed that distinction, I'll return to the question at hand. I believe it is an excellent base from which to build your own personal philosophy. You can build the specifics that you want to believe in around this base concept: An it harm none, do as ye will. That leaves all sorts of interpretation open to the individual, as all good philosophies should. (Plato, Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, etc. just for some examples) I personally believe in it wholeheartedly and have built a great deal of my own personal philosophy around it.
Do you follow it?
As it relates to my own personal philosophy, as I stated above, yes I do! In both my spiritual practice and the generalities of my life... though there are very particular interpretations for either circumstance.
How do I interpret it? What constitutes harm?
This is such a loaded question. "Harm none" can apply to anything you want it to, or nothing. Animal rights, tattoos, piercings, self defense, parent-child relationships, health and well-being... some of these should be obvious, but they often aren't. This could possibly be one of the most loaded questions a human being could ever ask another. "What constitutes harm?" I believe intent carries a lot of weight, but some things are still harmful no matter the intent... like spankings. That is a conclusion I've come to through my own journey as a parent, so please understand I'm not looking down my nose at you. I spanked when my kids were younger, and I grew to know better, and I know any parent out there can too :) I still have those moments with the youngest (she is strong-willed and overly creative), but I'm still growing. I try not to discipline; instead, I try to use reason and understanding to work through a conflict, and when these fail I just love my kids. It's not easy. I fail a lot. But I try. Intent vs. actuality... which wins over? Karma decides eventually, I guess...
To start with: Animal Rights. First of all, I do not agree in any way with animal abuse. But to me, there is a clear line between animal abuse and keeping pets or well-cared-for livestock (e.g. free range, grass-fed, etc. Also see the way the Japanese pamper their Kobe beef cows. Those critters live better than most of the humans on this entire planet!). Livestock, when properly cared for, live just as full and rewarding and pampered lives (in the manner that is appropriate to their species) as any pet who receives the same treatment. In this context, I do not believe either animals kept as livestock or pets are being abused. However! In cases such as corporate dairy farms or puppy mills, then yes, it should be considered abuse and is therefore applicable under Harm None.
On the other foot, we've got extremes like PETA who "liberate" pets and then euthanize them in the backs of their vans. Many times these pets were well pampered and cared for, and a deeply integrated part of the family that PETA stole the pet from. So where's the harm there? Did PETA really do the animal a favor and put it out of some kind of perceived misery? Or did PETA cause harm to the animal and family by forcibly separating them and then euthanizing the animal? I know what my opinion is.
Then you've got vegans who say that meat is murder. Well, I've got news for you: plants have feelings too!!! Or do we conveniently forget the fact that science has proven that plants are healthier and more robust when loved? So if meat is murder, so is veganism.
Nevermind the fact that it is physiologically and biologically impossible to get the full range of nutrition our bodies need for optimum health through veganism. I know some of you would dispute that, but it's a scientific fact that no plant has the necessary levels of bioavailable Alpha Lipoic Acid, and that certain animal fats actually make it possible for our bodies to properly utilize the nutrition we get from eating plants. We are part of Nature too; technically we are predators at the top of the food chain! We are physiologically geared to be omnivores, because we only absorb the full range of proper nutrition necessary for optimum from both plant and animal sources. I'd cite references but I don't have any handy right now, so I'm just going to tell you to go do your research (carefully!) and get back to me. This comes under Harm None too... veganism harms your Self by keeping you undernourished. Veganism can also harm Nature - in many cases it's only through human predatory intervention that certain animals do not overpopulate and starve themselves to death. See: White-tailed deer populations in Eastern North America.
The idea is, don't abuse. There are many forms of abuse. In any of these forms, abuse is harm. Whether it's animals, people, or plants... don't abuse, but don't go off the deep end either. Find a healthy medium. Find a balance.
*ahem* Again, slight tangent there, sorry. So: harm none! Tattoos, piercings... I fully agree with SalemWitchChild's opinion: if done by consent, then no, it's not harm. Infant piercings get my goat something fierce. I have to restrain myself from throttling a parent every time I see a child sitting in the piercing chair at a Claire's. Especially if it's a baby and I hear them start to scream. Watching certain tribal cultural traditions on TV also bugs the ever-living you-know-what out of me. Grrrrrr....
Self defense: I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, first of all. I believe that if someone's going to try to attack me or my kids, for whatever reason... theft, rape, murder, etc... I should be able to blow their head off before they hurt me or my kids. Now understand something: I am 5'3" and less than 115lb. My metabolism is ridiculously hyperactive and I have to eat a lot just to keep exhaustion at bay, so I will probably never gain much weight. I am freaking scrawny and would rather not trust my continued health and well being to my ability to defend myself in hand to hand combat against a larger, stronger and possibly knife- or gun-wielding opponent. Even less so do I want to trust the health and lives of my children to the outside possibility that I might be able to wrest a knife or gun away from a big guy intent on causing harm, or run away faster than said firearm can propel a deadly projectile (standard .45 caliber ACP 1911A1 muzzle velocity - the speed at which the bullet leaves the barrel - varies from 830 Feet Per Second up to 1020 Feet Per Second. I don't think I can run that fast. Can you?). And even less than that do I want to trust in the hope that a policeman might be close enough to defend me and my children.
So in this case, I have to choose which harm I would rather live with - causing the death of an attacker bent on hurting me or my children, or my kids and/or me being hurt or killed. Which would you choose? I think I'd take the karmic hit and empty a clip into the guy rather than live with myself if my kids got hurt, or what they'd have to live with if I was taken from them. There is no Harm None applicable here; in this instance, however, causing harm to my attacker is the lesser harm.
Parent-child relationships (or any relationship for that matter): can be stated simply, I think. The Non-Aggression Principle(NAP) in its simplest form states that no person shall initiate force or violence against another person or the legitimately owned property of another person. It is discussed in greater length here on Wikipedia, but the base principle, like the Rede, is an excellent one to add to or found a personal philosophy upon. In fact, in many ways, the NAP is the Rede. The NAP, however, does not preclude self defense. It does include both physical and mental/emotional violence (emotional abusers). And in truth, it could be interpreted to mean do not initiate force or violence against yourself, as well.
Health and Well Being: this is a huge trigger subject for me. Hell's bells, you've probably guessed that most of these previous issues are trigger subjects of one degree or another. Bah, my dad would be proud of me... most of my obsession with researching and ranting about the issues important to me, I get from him. Anyway! Health and Well Being... honestly, there's really only one way to look at this. Harm None! This includes yourself. What you eat can be harmful or healthful. Your lifestyle counts. This also means emotional health! And please understand, I am far from perfect on any of these counts. My diet is less than exemplary but we haven't got the money to eat organic... we barely can make it to the grocery store and back every month. And I have certain vices... like I enjoy Mountain Dew far more than I should. But within my ability, I do the best I can.
Doctors take an oath to do no harm, yet so many people... more than for any other reason... die from doctor mistakes (in any context - vaccinations, experimentation, surgical mistakes, prescribing the wrong meds, etc.) than from any other cause nationwide. I think it may be worldwide, but don't quote me. Yes, that means that doctors cause more American deaths per year than the recent armed conflicts have managed.
Vaccines are poison, period. No, it's not inflammatory language, it's the literal truth. Vaccines literally poison the body. Most of the ingredients are ones you would never ingest because they're what? Poison. I'm sorry if you take offense, but that's your choice to respond that way and you're only harming yourself. Now, you must understand, I had my first daughter vaccinated because at the time, I didn't know any better! Now I do know better, and I try to share that knowledge. Luckily, she had no adverse reactions. There's no conclusive scientific evidence that they are effective. The whole "derd immunity" argument is a joke. Besides which, have you ever read any of the ingredients in those things? Mercury (Straight out poison. Hazmat is supposed to be called for mercury spills that are smaller amounts than what our little babies get injected with at birth. Yes, it's still being used; the FDA lies to you), formaldehyde (embalming fluid... you know, the stuff that makes your relatives' bodies smell funny at funerals, or have you never noticed? Embalm your insides before you're even a year old!), aluminum (linked to a whole host of health issues including autism and Alzheimer's). And have you seen what Gardasil does to young girls?
So thousands of doctors every year violate their own oaths by vaccinating, by participating in dangerous medical experiments, by screwing up surgeries, by prescribing deadly drugs that cause a veritable cocktail of health problems that could be cured through nutrition, herbal medicine, and various and sundry other methods of alternative healing. Harm none.
And don't get me started on dentists...
*ahem* I truly am sorry if any of this caused inflammatory reactions in anyone who reads it... please understand I am very passionate about these subjects and I do research them to the best of my ability. This is not intended to step on any toes, but I will not back down and play nice over something this important. If you can prove me wrong on any particular point, I will welcome thoughtful debate... but don't come breathing fire at me. Your comments will be summarily deleted before reaching the light of publication.
In conclusion... the Wiccan Rede, "An it harm none, do as ye will" should be fairly simple to interpret. Take it to heart. Eat it up, chew it thoughtfully, and swallow it into your being. Start thinking about what "harm none" really means... and then teach others to do the same. It doesn't have to be religious or even spiritual. It's a philosophy, not morality, or religion, or culture. It actually transcends those, just like the Non-Aggression Principle. It's just a better way to treat ourselves and each other than many others in the world right now, and it's simple to understand. In most cases, it's preserving both our inner emotional and personal physical balance, and aiding Nature to preserve the balance of Her health. The idea of "harm" may change across the world as one goes from moral code to religious belief to cultural behavior, but there are some things that should be considered Harm, no matter which of these three (all or none) you subscribe to.