An it harm none, a moral dilemma
I recently have had to begin facing a rather difficult question. One that at its core asked me to interprets one of the prime directives of Wicca.
“an it harm none, do as thou will”
The question boils down to this, if doing something that is needed for my own recovery & survival adversely impacts on the life of others the where do I stand with respect to the tenant expressed in the harm none rule?
Add into this that there is a moral and potentially legal component, in that the action I am contemplating is to formally report historic sexual abuse, and the who question becomes even more murky.
The obvious approach is to look at the relative harms that would be done, a very teleological approach but one that may give me some guidance.
In many cases like is it may seem easy, the person who will be harmed will be the abuser and the person benefiting the abused. In this scenario it seem easy, the abuser is getting just deserts and the abused can begin the long journey to healing. Simples!
But to add a little more realism into the question, let us assume the following:
• The abuse happened 40 or more hears ago
• The abuser has since fostered many children, apparently without incident
• The abuser is still fostering a vulnerable child
• The wider family believes the abuser to be. Good person and the abused to be somethings of a black sheep
Things now become a little more difficult.
Perhaps highest on the list is the impact that any investigation into the abuser would have on the child who is currently being fostered. That child is settled and making good progress having bonded well with the family.
If she was taken away from the foster care she would be totally devastated.
Then we have the impact on the wider family.
The sister of the abused has always been extremely close to her mother, and very much less so to her brother, this has only increased since the illness and death of their father.
Even the suggestion that her mother may have abused her son, the sisters brother, would have a very negative impact on her. The stigma of being associated with child abuse would I think be too much for her to take.
How do I balance these harms against the harm that has already been done to the abused and to his attempts to recover and build a life?
There is then the legal and moral questions.
Should the abuser be punished no matter that the cost?
Well there is a concept in UK justice that a prosecution has to be in the public interest, so it would seem that the answer is no, context can override the need for justice.
The other moral question is the protection of others, what is the risk to others if something is not done?
Well in these very particular circumstances it seems that only boys would be at risk, and the abuser only fosters girls.
So again that moral driver would seem to be at least negitionable.
So it would come down to a simple question, one that at the moment I do not have an answer to.
In the context of do no harm, does my recovery and justice out way the potential harm that may be done to others?