Do No Harm? Bring Love into the World?

Some of us, striving for ways to solve problems such as the ecological problems in Haiti, look for root causes. And there’s almost always something humans did – people we could blame, if we like.

One way of looking at the world is to say that people should avoid doing harm to others. A quite different way is to ask people to create as much love around them as they can.

I don’t think the “do no harm” philosophy is a bad one, but I think in many ways what we humans want out of our lives is not just to avoid hurting people, but to have deep and caring relationships with people.

As we consider how to accomplish things in Haiti or in the United States, taking “do no harm” as our motto has the potential to degenerate into blame and political bickering over who’s doing harm and who’s not. It has the potential to become a conversation wherein one side says “this is what’s wrong with you” and the other side becomes defensive and responds with the same attitude.

There are a great many of us who have great hopes for Haiti and willing to put our energy behind those hopes. As we do this, I’d like us to think always about how we can accomplish the very most, how we can create friendship and love and concrete gains through our work, and to avoid feeding conflict by focusing on who we can blame, who we dislike, who we can pick a fight with. We’ll always be capable of picking a fight, but at the same time, we’ll always be capable of feeding hunger without feeding hate.