Saturday, January 21, 2012

Harm and hurt

I don't think "hurting someone" and "harming someone" are necessarily the exact same thing. To me it seems like it is possible to "hurt" someone without harming them. And to harm someone without hurting them.

Let me explain. I have been hurt many times. I have cut myself more times than I can count. I have had scrapes and bruises. Most of these left no lasting effects. Any "harm" was temporary. I got over it (even if it wasn't a happy thing at the moment it happened). I don't think those things really harmed me in any way.

On the other hand I have been harmed by things that left no physical damage, but that I will never really heal from. For example, I was abandoned by The Love of My Life a little over 8 years ago. That harmed me, in many ways more than any physical damage I have ever suffered- including a bike wreck that did cause lasting damage.

So, although I realize that to be hurt in any way causes at least temporary harm, I guess when I think of "harm" I am thinking of something a little more permanent.

Sometimes you might even need to hurt someone in order to protect them from harm. It's not a good position to find yourself in.

Now, that doesn't mean that hurting someone or harming them is not a violation of the ZAP; in this case harm and hurt could both be wrong. It depends if they started it. And, sometimes, someone who is innocent may be hurt or harmed by something you did, and you may still have not done anything actually wrong. Accidents happen. You might have a debt to pay in that case, and by shirking your responsibility you would then be doing something wrong.

Just something to consider.



  1. "Many things -- beating with a rubber truncheon, water torture, electric shock, incessant noise, reruns of 'Space 1999' -- may cause agony as they occur yet leave no enduring injury. The state is not free to inflict suchpains without cause just so long as it is careful to leave no marks."
    - Judge Easterbrook, Williams v Boles, 841 F.2d 181 (CA7 1988)

  2. And all of those things not only hurt, but probably produce lasting harm- although I think I recovered from "Space 1999" re-runs without too much lasting damage. I think it is probably also a result of how the hurt is applied. If you are subjected to those things by people who want to hurt you on purpose, the (mental and emotional) harm is probably greater.