Finally, Do No Harm

“First, do no harm.”

When that commandment proves false, does harm —in a world of consequences and interconnections, there is no unitive through a negative injunction, only failure through failing step number one — even its aspiration evaporates. Yet, maleficence reduction has value.

What about a less G*D-like order and more human-reachable goal of going for, “First, do the least harm?

Here, too, we run up against our nature. No, not original sin or baked-in evil, our ability to take sufficient data into account. What seems so common-sensical today is, in tomorrow’s frame, quite nonsensical. Even an agreement on a modicum of justice leaves far too many outside its protection. It leaves a store of virus a place of incubation from which to arise again (not unlike the Confederate “Lost Cause” Defense).

Is there any tool left if moderate progressive good work requires a field empty or depleted of harm before it can propagate?

There is much to be said for a professional ethic such as a Hippocratic Oath that recognizes its limits. Applying such to a community unable to agree upon limits is a setup for failure. For example, we don’t even understand parental responses to a firstborn, a middle child, a last-born, or any additional gradations between.

It may well be that attempts to corral harm must necessarily come no higher than second place, and may well lay much lower. If “harm” is what sets the stage, it implies something like original sin is the correct model that must be guarded. In which case, failure to contain harm is not only the expected result but will impinge upon any other goal.

I suspect that turning such a paradigm on its head, “First, do good,” will be as unachievable, and a moderate desire to bring “all the good one can” will be measured and found wanting. Since we prefer not to live with or without such doctrinal approaches to life, we are all the more reliant upon a living, flowing mercy beyond definition and codification. Blessings on sharing such.

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