“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
As a Wiccan Gnostic, I follow two ‘laws’, if you will. One is the Wiccan Rede, ‘An it harm none, do as ye will’. The second is, ‘If truth be true, it must first be universal’. This doesn’t mean that there is only one way to understand the truth, this idea is what makes monotheistic faiths so harmful to spiritual development. Rather it states we must be willing to look at our beliefs in light of the beliefs of others, to see all sides of it.
For example, let’s look at the Ten Commandments; here we find a ‘law’, which states: ‘Thou shalt not kill’. A good law on the surface, but let’s introduce a scenario which challenges it; suppose a robber breaks into a home and is threatening the occupants with a gun. Is it wrong to use force, even to the point of taking the robber’s life, in order to protect one’s family? And what if taking the life of the robber is the only way to protect the lives of the family? The ‘law’ states that we should not kill, so if we are to follow the letter of the law then we should allow the robber to kill our loved ones while we do nothing. Does this mean the law is wrong? I would argue, no, the law is not wrong, merely our perception of it.
What it comes down to is a matter of intent. In my book, ‘Witches Revelation’, the Archangel Uriel discusses the concept of intent with the protagonist, Ariel.
“The answer to the riddle is thus,” Uriel replied as the world began to slowly take shape once more. “Two men kill; one does so to protect another and so does good. Another kills to satisfy himself and so does evil. Two men steal; one to feed another, another to feed himself. Two men lie; one to save another, the other to save himself. It is not the action that is important, but the will behind it. Remember, even the most vile of murderer’s can bow his head to pray and the weakest of men can help another to their feet.” -Witches Revelation, a novel
Continuing with this example, let’s suppose the father sees the robber with a gun threatening his wife and children. He grabs his own weapon and kills the robber. What was the intent? The robber sought to take life for his own desires or simply because he thought he could, the father took life to protect his loved ones. The robber violated the law because he sought to end life, the father upheld the law because he sought to protect life.
Some might say that if the universe truly desired the lives of the family to be spared, they would be spared. I have trouble with this statement as there seems to be precious little difference between it and the belief that, ‘we just need more faith’. We as humans, and Pagans especially, form our own destiny. A perfect example would the founding fathers of America.
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." -Declaration of Independence
Our founding fathers began the American Revolution, knowing full well it would cause a war and that men would die on both sides. Were they wrong? Did they violate the ‘law’? In the late seventeen hundreds, the British Colonies in America were fast being drowned beneath increasing taxes and embargos. Every avenue of redress and petition was made by our founding fathers to King George of Britian and at every turn they were denied relief. In the end they had two choices; submit to the tyranny of Britian and become little more than slaves and indentured servants, or take up arms against their king and the king’s law.
“People crushed by law, have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws; and those who have much to hope and nothing to lose, will always be dangerous.” -Edmund Burke
Which, then, is the greater evil: To endure the oppression of kings and tyrants, or take arms against oppression? Within the Wiccan Rede we are called to ‘harm none’. But shall we allow others to endure harm? Law is a two way street, just as we should have no intent to do harm, neither can we allow harm to be visited upon another when it is in our power to act. Does this mean we should become crusaders, looking to avenge the problems of the world? Most certainly not. Such thinking is what led to the current war in Iraq and the thousands of dead American soldiers who were sacrificed on the altar of ‘God’s duty’. But it does mean we should right what wrongs the universe places before us. So how does this relate to the concept of Intent?
“An honorable Peace is and always was my first wish! I can take no delight in the effusion of human Blood; but, if this war should continue, I wish to have the most active part in it.” -Thomas Jefferson
Even as our founding fathers fought for the right to be free men devoted to the rights of mankind, so to must we as Pagans be committed to the right of all men to seek understanding and live in peace. Gandhi led a revolution of peace in India. Martin Luther King Jr. led a revolution of equal rights in America. And our founding fathers led a revolution of freedom when they formed our nation. If our intent is war, our cause is unjust. If our intent is peace, our cause is just.
And what was accomplished by these actions? Gandhi’s actions led a new era of independence in India. His beliefs and actions inspired Martin Luther King Jr. who used them to end racial segregation in America. And if we need further proof of what a few good men, driven by their belief in a greater cause, can accomplish we need only look to the White House where, for the first time in our nation’s history, a man of a different color holds the most powerful seat in America. Thus the greatest example of intent that can be offered: Fight for what is right today, so that our children may know what is right tomorrow.
Our actions, as Pagans and human beings, shall echo through the coming generations. Do we wish that our children’s children look back upon us and see a group of individuals with nothing but words and ideas, or a group of women and men who took a stand upon their principles? Which inspires us more, flowery words, or right action? Intent requires action, it cannot exist merely as thought. Uphold life and the right to live it, therein lies true nobility.
In this regard, perhaps we should look again at the law; ‘Thou shalt not kill’. Instead of looking at the action, let us look at the intent; ‘Thou shalt not have intent to harm the life of another, or allow another’s life to be harmed’. And this, my friends and fellow Pagans, is truth made universal.
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall – think of it, always.” -Mohandas Karamchand Gandi
Causes Timothy Gibbons Supports
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion,