Do No Harm
We have been lured into destructive behaviors by a misguided notion I call the “myth of scarcity”. In truth, plenty abounds. All we are missing is the willingness to act in accordance with the ‘Do no harm’ principle. It may be time for a new rallying cry.
Sometimes, I dream of a world in which the worst of human behaviors don’t exist. In those moments, I envision crisp, fresh air; lush, cacophonous forests; crystal-clear lakes and rivers; teeming oceans; and snow-capped mountains, all gloriously free of industrial machinery. I dream of a world in which the machines that do exist emit nothing but light, air, or vapor — the very same things that power them; where strangers smile softly at one another openly, as if greeting an old friend; where curiosity, empathy, optimism, and ethics are the cardinal points of our behavior; where lawyers and their enforcers, politicians, and militaries don’t exist, because there is no need for such things; and where everyone speaks to truth, acting in accordance with a singular, foundational tenet governing human conduct:
“Do no harm.”
What a world that would be. If we measured everything we do — everything — by this metric, the world that we know wouldn’t exist. Energy would become infinite, and freely available to all. Food would fill everyone’s bellies and be nutritious once again, the way nature designed it to be—rather than toxically debilitating, and unrecognizable. Poverty would disappear, as would crime, most diseases, inequality, broken promises, competition and zero-sum games, because these things are all very harmful, and our new behaviors wouldn’t allow them.
Greta Thunberg wouldn’t have to lecture the world’s leaders, pointing out their duplicity for applauding her publicly then doing nothing — or yet more harm — behind her back, to fix the diseased planet they created, and which she is inheriting. With her powerful admonishment, “How DARE you,” she showed us that she is more of an adult than we are; and that adulthood itself is now something she is right to mistrust, because, well, just look at it! Look at what nearly all humans do with our actions. We destroy the planet and people, in the name of profit and…