just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

How Deep Is Our Commitment to Not Cause Harm? That’s Where Peace Lies

Published on 17/05/19
by randy

We have a mother robin nesting just outside our front door.  As she nurtures her babies, she comes to a deeper sense of trust.  She can smell our desire to ‘not harm’ her nest.  Now, after a couple weeks, we can make a large commotion nearby and she’ll confidently stay in her nest.    Dr. Martin Luther King once said that our enemy can smell our contempt for them, even when their words communicate a sense of agreement.  When we lose that commitment to ‘not harm’ we miss an opportunity to build trust.  So how can we apply this to our politics today?

We’ve moved to bigger circles of belonging as global commerce, technology and climate change have shown us the necessity to communicate with all our fellow humans.  Our failure to gain their trust through our commitment to ‘not harm’ results in an escalation of their fears and consequent violence.  When we fail to place collateral damage from war as a top priority in our attempts to participate in a less violent world, we escalate the violence.  When our fellow humans lose trust in America’s foreign policy we increase the danger to ourselves.  Similarly, when they can smell our sincere desire for the welfare of their citizens, our commitment to not harm them through air and water pollution, to protect all humans through concerns to not harm animal and plant life, to protect the ozone layer, and to pledge a zero tolerance for collateral damages caused from military intervention, we’ll make a huge move to the trust the mother robin has come to show us.

Our current Draconian approaches to foreign policies only serve to diminish the trust others have in America.  Simply put, war doesn’t work anymore (as if it ever has).  Once it became impossible to identify the enemy, once we slackened our commitment to ‘not harm’, once we let the fighting cancer of harm infiltrate our own executive, legislature and judicial branches, we lost the trust of the people.  Is there a remedy?  How do we begin to build a bridge to trust?

I suggest we all begin our day with a new Pledge of Allegiance.  Can we hold to a commitment to at least start the day or meeting or class with the pledge, “We all here aim to not cause harm.  We will seal this commitment to respect one another with a few minutes of silence, where we all breath in the same air, say ‘Yes’ to the stewardship of one another and planet, and ‘Thank you’ to that which is bigger than us for the opportunity to participate in this wonderful gift of life.”  We will then break this silence with the humble statement of, “I affirm that I don’t know everything.  I affirm that I don’t have ALL the information.  I affirm that my thinking is only a map from my experience that partially reflects the territory.  My willingness to listen to your map affirms my willingness to build trust, just as my refusal to listen affirms my lack of willingness to build trust, to set ‘no harm’ as a primary moral obligation.

Just as any game requires players to agree on rules of play, this rule of play would go a long way for building trust amongst our fellow humans.  Our failure to commit to intentions of ‘no harm’ fed through fear and greed often leaves us with actions and thoughts the animals are confused by.  It’s careless behavior in a time where everything is showing to be more and more fragile.

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