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Do not harm
May 12th, 2015
Do not harm

   Regularly, people think that pacifism and «do not harm» messages are shallow, a bit hippie, "flower power" or naïve.
   These peaceful messages seem easy to disregard, by coming up with narratives of "not letting others abuse you" and of circumstances when one would supposedly 'need' to resort to violence…

   But such a reaction is a pathetic obsession with oneself. To automatically interpret «do not harm» as being about oneself is ridiculously self-centred.
   When discriminations are discussed, some people react saying "I don't do this",  making a wide issue suddenly limited to themselves personally (and therefore not so much about the victims in need of help!). It's a classic of e.g. the "not all men"  response or of e.g. the "I have black friends"  response.
   Similarly, some people react to "do not harm" thinking "I don't do this";  but it's not what it's about.

   It's in fact relevant, and wholesome, to reflect on how one personally impacts others, e.g. via one's consumption.
   It's easy to harm others by negligence (from the pollution generated by a big, ego-boosting, petrol-hungry car… to the working conditions in China required for the relatively low cost of particular electronic gadgets); vigilance and awareness are our best allies against negligence.
   Reflecting on one's direct impact is an important step… but it is only a first step! The next step is to think how we can favour conditions and circumstances in which other parties's impacts will become more wholesome too… Not doing what one could do in order to help might be seen as a negligence.

   This 22'08'' video from TED addresses important issues. No easy solution, but if we consider "seeing reality as it is" then we shouldn't corner ourselves in easy explanations or self-congratulations: awareness is the necessary first step for positive contributions to arise.

   « when our grandchildren ask us  "Grandma, Grandpa, where were you when two billion of the world's poorest were drowning in a lawless chaos of everyday violence?" I hope we can say that we had compassion, that we raised our voice, and as a generation, we were moved to make the violence stop. »
— Gary Haugen

#engagedBuddhism #nonviolence  
by Amelior Scout:
This talk states that billions of people remain in poor conditions because they are continuously under threat.