What Does it Mean to ‘Harm None’?

“These eight words The Rede fulfill

An’ ye harm none, do what ye will”

But what does it mean to harm none? The world is far from being a black and white place and the situations we may find ourselves faced with reflect this. We may be in a situation where, no matter the decision we make, harm will befall someone by either our action or inaction. Is it even possible to live by these words at all times?

The best way to ponder this question and attempt to reach a conclusion is to examine a hypothetical situation. The situation is as follows: You are out with a friend when a man approaches and holds a gun to them with the intention of shooting them. This requires you to make a decision; whether or not to intervene. If you fail to intervene, your friend will be harmed. If you do intervene, assuming you must use force to disarm the perpetrator, they will be harmed.

No matter how you decide to react, you will be causing harm. If you choose not to intervene, you will not directly be harming your friend. However, your failure to act will result in them being harmed. When you have the ability to prevent harm from occurring, but choose not to prevent it, you are still causing harm by way of your inaction. Because you had the ability to prevent harm, but actively chose not to take action, this is no different from directly causing harm as you would be doing if you choose to intervene and attack the perpetrator. The end result is the same, it matters not if you were the direct or indirect cause.

Now that this is established, it becomes clear that no matter what you choose to do in the aforementioned hypothetical situation, you will be causing harm. If this is the case, you must now base your decision on new criteria. Because the perpetrator actively chose to put himself in a situation in which his intention is to cause harm, he becomes responsible for any harm that befalls him as a result of his decisions. Essentially, your friend is an innocent whereas the perpetrator is not. Under such circumstances, attacking the perpetrator to save your friend, an innocent, is the morally correct decision. Innocents must always be held in a higher regard and harm that befalls them seen as worse than harm that befalls a perpetrator of injustice.

In a complex world of complex situations and dilemmas, ‘harm none’ must sometimes be understood to mean ‘cause the least harm possible’.

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The Importance of Not Giving a Fuck

Many things are worth caring about. There is one thing in particular, however, that requires us to actively participate in not paying it any mind; what others think of us. When someone criticizes our interests, lifestyle, or things that bring us happiness, it becomes necessary for us to raise our middle fingers high and choose to genuinely not give a fuck.

The most self destructive thing we can do is compare ourselves to others. Everyone has different life circumstances. Problems arise when people choose to use their particular individual life circumstances to form a view on how others should be living their lives. The issue, of course, is that others are living under different circumstances, and therefore the life circumstances of one can not be applied to another.

For example, a lawyer who is married with the standard 2.5 kids (ok, we’ll just say 3) expects everyone else to live a similar lifestyle because this is what is right for him. What is right for him, however, will not be right for someone else. Perhaps another person is an unmarried artist who chooses to forgo marriage and children, as well as choosing to live a generally ‘unconventional’ lifestyle. This is what’s right for him. Neither of these lifestyles are superior or inferior to the other, they are simply different. Moreover, they are the correct path for those who follow them.

Ideally, everyone would realize this reality. Unfortunately, the world is filled with cynics and pessimists who view anyone adhering to a lifestyle different from their own as inferior. For this reason, it is important that we know how to properly react to their opinions of us. This proper reaction can best be described as not giving a fuck. When we say ‘not giving a fuck’, we mean truly, in the most genuine way, not giving a fuck.

It is important to realize that when someone has a negative opinion on your lifestyle or the things that bring you happiness, it is a reflection on them, not a reflection on you. They are often very insecure, and to put it quite frankly, miserable individuals. Their cynical opinions have no bearing on you. The best thing you could learn to do is completely disregard them as they truly hold no merit whatsoever.

It takes a very strong will to truly live by this philosophy. The best way to develop the strong will necessary is to begin an active practice. The next time someone says something unnecessary and cynical to you, choose to not give a fuck. Tell yourself ‘I truly do not give a fuck about this bastard or their opinion of me. I am secure in myself and do not need the validation of a miserable cynic.’ Do this until you genuinely believe what you are telling yourself. Before you know it, it will become second nature.

If you are an unmarried 45 year old man who enjoys spending his free time reading comic books, do it. If you are a 15 year old who enjoys spending your free time with your nose in a book, do it. If you are a 70 year old man who enjoys skateboarding, toilet humor, and playing Pokémon Go, do it. These are things that make you happy; you need no other reason to do them. When a cynical pessimist tells you that you’re a ‘loser’, that you ‘have no life’, or that you are living your life incorrectly, stick your middle finger in their face, tell them to fuck off, and go back to whatever it is you were doing. Think no more about it for their opinion truly does not matter. Do not give a fuck about them or their message of ignorance and cynicism. Keep doing what makes you happy and pay no mind to those who only wish to belittle you and make you as miserable as they are.