Doing No Harm:
Taking Care of Number One Revisted

By Thomas James Darling

We all benefit from work
that is meaningful and
that does no harm.

Taking responsibility for our own well-being first need not negatively impact the ability of others to do the same. Sufficient consideration for others lessens the likelihood that oppressive or adversarial relationships will develop that can easily run counter to our own interests. Preoccupation with self-interest may cause damage or distrust that with sufficient care can be avoided. Needed movement toward fairness and equity in the home, workplace, and community can be better accomplished without habitual or rationalized reinforcement of unhealthy cultural patterns that revolve around "me first" attitudes.

In looking after our own interests we would be wise to do no harm no harm to others or to the local or global ecology. "Looking after number one" doesn't sound so logically compelling if we examine its precipitous relationship and compatibility with war, global health problems, imperiled human rights, social inequality, and environmental degradation.

From the broadest perspective, personal and social-environmental investments are not mutually exclusive but, rather, they can be seen as synergistically compatible. Surely, compassionate consideration of the larger whole can complement rather than conflict with our own real needs. Helping others can be seen as helping ourselves when we recognize mutual earth-friendly goals. Supporting each other's efforts to live fully yet do no harm enhances our individual freedom and well-being from all sides.

It is not necessary to first be selfish in order to accumulate the means to help others. Too often our projected altruistic intent is left unfulfilled as we become more entrenched in self-centered or ethics-compromising work situations. Philanthropy in-the-moment is a far surer course than postponing it to a day that may never arrive or arrive after a serious toll has been taken that requires more "healing" than the hoped for benefit can possibly deliver in a timely way.

Philanthropy that includes ourselves but proactively attends to the ongoing needs of others will require that we outgrow blind self-seeking behavior as well as questionable means to accomplish a desired end. Philanthropy both global and local can take many forms and develop on many levels of our collective consciousness. However, it must be focused by the individual and collective heart with institutional involvement but not institutional dependence or subservitude. Right livelihood as conscience and compassion directs allows us all to fulfill our unique potential more easily by doing no harm along the way.

Thomas James Darling

"As to diseases, make a habit of two things to help,
or at least do no harm." (Hippocrates, The Epidemics)

These pages were updated 26 April 2015.

Google the words accompanying links if any links are on the blink. I am not responding to email at the current time while I work on other projects.

The issues I document are not really "dated" or "old school" in that they chronicle the kinds of campus struggles that can and do still
happen today and will likely continue in the future. The technology has changed faster than the attitudes and
mentality behind our education programs, policies, and practices.

Let animals keep their skin and be thankful for your own. (Thomas James Darling)

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