The medical profession's classic prescription for coping with such predicaments, Primum non nocere (First, do no harm), sounds better than it is. In fact, it fails to tell us precisely what we need to know: What is harm and what is help? However, two things about the challenge of helping the helpless are clear. One is that, like beauty and ugliness, help and harm often lie in the eyes of the beholder-in our case, in the often divergently directed eyes of the benefactor and his beneficiary. The other is that harming people in the name of helping them is one of mankind's favorite pastimes.
Thomas Stephen Szasz
It is not enough to ask, 'Will my act harm other people?' Even if the answer is No, my act may still be wrong, because of its effects on other people. I should ask, 'Will my act be one of a set of acts that will together harm other people?' The answer may be Yes. And the harm to others may be great. If this is so, I may be acting very wrongly, like the Harmless Torturers.
Heather Badcock meant no harm. She never did mean harm, but there is no doubt that people like Heather Badcock (and like my old friend Alison Wilde), are capable of doing a lot of harm because they lack - not kindness, they have kindness - but any real consideration for the way their actions may affect other people. She though always of what an action meant to her, never sparing a thought to what it might mean to somebody else.
Privacy and pollution are similar problems. Both cause harm that is invisible and pervasive. Both result from exploitation of a resource-whether it is land, water, or information. Both suffer from difficult attribution. It is not easy to identify a single pollutant or a single piece of data that caused harm. Rather, the harm often comes from an accumulation of pollutants, or an assemblage of data. And the harm of both pollution and privacy is collective. No one person bears the burden of all pollution; all of society suffers when the air is dirty and the water undrinkable. Similarly, we all suffer when we live in fear that our data will be used against us by companies trying to exploit us or police officers sweeping us into a lineup. (212-213)
There would be nothing I could do to you that would harm you more than what you're already doing to harm yourself...You are never going to amount to anything. You will always be the worthless muck people scrape from their shoes. You only get one life and you are wasting yours. That's a terrible shame. I doubt you will ever know what it is to be truly happy, to achieve anything of worth, to have genuine pride in yourself. You bring it all on yourself, and I could do no worse to you.
About the greatest virtue a friend can have, is to be able to hold her tongue; and through this, like all virtues carried to extremity, may grow into a fault, and do great harm, still, it never can do so much harm as that horrible laxity and profligacy of speech which is a the root of half the quarrels, cruelties, and injustices of the world.
Dinah Maria Murlock Craik
Any objective look at what science has to say about climate change ought to be sufficient to persuade reasonable people that the climate is changing and that humans are responsible for a substantial part of that - and that these changes are doing harm and will continue to do more harm unless we start to reduce our emissions.
If you find yourself criticizing other people, you're probably doing it out of Resistance. When we see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if we have not lived out our own. Individuals who are realized in their own lives almost never criticize others. if they speak at all, it is to offer encouragement. Watch yourself. Of all the manifestations of Resistance, most only harm ourselves. Criticism and cruelty harm others as well.
If you find yourself criticizing other people, your probably doing it out of Resistance. When we see others beginning to live their authentic selves, it drives us crazy if we have not lived out our own. Individuals who are realized in their own lives almost never criticize others. if they speak at all, it is to offer encouragement. Watch yourself. Of all the manifestations of Resistance, most only harm ourselves. Criticism and cruelty harm others as well.
The workaholics have done immense harm to the world. And the greatest harm they have done is that they have deprived life of its moments of celebration and festivity. It is because of them that there is so little festivity in the world, and every day it is becoming more and more dull and dreary and miserable.
Like other discriminatory legislation in our country's history, immigration laws define and differentiate legal status on the basis of arbitrary attributes. Immigration laws create unequal rights. People who break immigration laws don't cause harm or even potential harm (unlike, for example, drunk driving, which creates the potential for harm even if no accident occurs). Rather, people who break immigration laws do things that are perfectly legal for others, but denied to them--like crossing a border or, even more commonly, simply exist.
Like other discriminatory legislation in our country's history, immigration laws define and differentiate legal status on the basis of arbitrary attributes. Immigration laws create unequal rights. People who break immigration laws don't cause harm or even potential harm (unlike, for example, drunk driving, which creates the potential for harm even if no accident occurs). Rather, people who break immigration laws do things that are perfectly legal for others, but denied to them-like crossing a border or, even more commonly, simply exist.
Forgiveness does not mean that we have to continue to relate to those who have done us harm. In some cases the best practice may be to end our connection, to never speak to or be with a harmful person again. Sometimes in the process of forgiveness a person who hurts or betrayed us may wish to make amends, but even this does not require us to put ourselves in the way of further harm.
Why must I cling to the customs and practices of a particular country forever, just because I happened to be born there? What does it matter if its distinctiveness is lost? Need we be so attached to it? What's the harm if everyone on earth shares the same thoughts and feelings, if they stand under a single banner of laws and regulations? What if we can't be recognized as Indians any more? Where's the harm in that? No one can object if we declare ourselves to be citizens of the world. Is that any less glorious?
Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay
Many have gone through life merely accumulating the instruments of life. Consider individuals, survey men in general: there is none whose life does not look forward to the morrow. 'What harm is there in this?' you ask. Infinite harm; for such persons do not live, but are preparing to live. They postpone everything.
The Three Laws of Robotics: 1: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; 2: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; 3: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law; The Zeroth Law: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
Ocean acidification looks suspiciously like a back-up plan by the environmental pressure groups in case the climate fails to warm: another try at condemning fossil fuels. [...] Even if the world warms as much as the consensus expects, the net harm still looks small alongside the real harm now being done by preventable causes; and if it does warm this much, it will be because more people are rich enough to afford to do something about it.
And if you asked them, "Who created the heavens and the earth?" they would say, "Allah." Say, "Have you seen those you pray to instead of Allah? If Allah willed any harm for me, can they lift His harm? And if He willed a blessing for me, can they hold back His mercy?" Say, "Allah suffices for me. On Him the reliant rely."
There is no nation on the continent of Europe that is less able to do harm to England, and there isno nation on the continent of Europe to whom we are less able to do harm, than Russia.We are so separate that it seems impossible that the two nations, by the use of reason or common sense at all, could possibly be brought into conflict with each other.
I still believe that, in the long run, the aggregate of the decisions of individual businessmen, exercising individual judgment in a free economy, even if often mistaken, is likely to do less harm than the centralized decisions of a Government; and certainly the harm is likely to be counteracted faster. As I said earlier in this debate, our economic medicine may be painful but it is fast and powerful because it can act freely.
John James Cowperthwaite
Seas of blood have been shed for the sake of patriotism. One would expect the harm and irrationality of patriotism to be self-evident to everyone. But the surprising fact is that cultured and learned people not only do not notice the harm and stupidity of patriotism, they resist every unveiling of it with the greatest obstinacy and passion (with no rational grounds), and continue to praise it as beneficent and elevating.
The development doctrines are doing much harm on both sides of the Atlantic, especially among intelligent mechanics, and a class of young men engaged in the subordinate departments of trade and the law. And the harm thus considerable in amount must be necessarily more than considerable in degree. For it invariably happens, that when persons in these walks become materialists, they become turbulent subjects and bad men.
It is now over. This has never been a case of trying to get free. I didn't ever want freedom. Frankly, I wanted death for myself. This was a case to tell the world that I did what I did, but not for reasons of hate. I hated no one. I knew I was sick or evil or both. Now I believe I was sick. The doctors have told me about my sickness, and now I have some peace. I know how much harm I have caused... Thank God there will be no more harm that I can do. I believe that only the Lord Jesus Christ can save me from my sins... I ask for no consideration.
[M]y conception of liberty does not permit an individual citizen or a group of citizens to commit acts of depredation against nature in such a way as to harm their neighbors and especially to harm the future generations of Americans. If many years ago we had had the necessary knowledge, and especially the necessary willingness on the part of the Federal Government, we would have saved a sum, a sum of money which has cost the taxpayers of America two billion dollars.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
No sin, especially no great sin, is just a harm done to the individual who commits it. I believe myself that the future of the human race is bound up with that idea. The soul that is conscious of a grievous sin is conscious of a great harm done to the community - to someone else. That common hurt should now be forgiven.
My view [is] that what morality boils down to is, 'Don't harm, and do help.' And now the question is, 'Can creatures like chickens and cows be harmed?' And the answer is, 'Of course they can.' Consequently, I think it's immoral to harm them. And that seems to me to provide a very strong moral reason to be vegetarian, to not wear leather... it seems to me that our treatment of animals is morally appalling... and that we ought to radically revise the way we live, precisely because they feel pain, they can be hurt, and we're constantly hurting these creatures!
It is unlikely that many people will take to heart the conclusion that coming into existence is always a harm. It is even less likely that many people will stop having children. By contrast, it is quite likely that my views either will be ignored or will be dismissed. As this response will account for a great deal of suffering between now and the demise of humanity, it cannot plausibly be thought of as philanthropic. That is not to say that it is motivated by any malice towards humans, but it does result from a self-deceptive indifference to the harm of coming into existence.
Half-instructed confessors have done my soul great harm; for I could not always have such learned ones as I would have desired. They certainly did not wish to deceive me, but the fact was that they knew no better. Of something which was a venial sin, they said it was no sin, and out of a very grave mortal sin they made a venial sin. This has done me such harm, that my speaking here of so great an evil, as a warning to others, will be readily understood.
Teresa of Avila
I know you have the capability to understand right from wrong because you hate people who harm children. Well, why not despise people who harm animals? It's hypocritical! Why protect one and violate the other when neither one wants or deserves the abuse? They just wish it would end. Stop praising the innocence in children then ignoring or making fun of the innocence in animals.
Government has coddled, accepted, and ignored white collar crime for too long. It is time the nation woke up and realized that it's not the armed robbers or drug dealers who cause the most economic harm, it's the white collar criminals living in the most expensive homes who have the most impressive resumes who harm us the most. They steal our pensions, bankrupt our companies, and destroy thousands of jobs, ruining countless lives.
I find it difficult to feel responsible for the suffering of others. That's why I find war so hard to bear. It's the same with animals: I feel the less harm I do, the lighter my heart. I love a light heart. And when I know I'm causing suffering, I feel the heaviness of it. It's a physical pain. So it's self-interest that I don't want to cause harm.
If I had my way, " Dionysus said, "I would cause your molecules to erupt in flames. We'd sweep up the ashes and be done with a lot of trouble. But Chiron seems to feel this would be against my mission at this cursed camp: to keep you little brats safe from harm." "Spontaneous combustion is a form of harm, Mr. D, " Chiron put in. "Nonsense, " Dionysus said. "Boy wouldn't feel a thing. Nevertheless, I've agreed to restrain myself. I'm thinking of turning you into a dolphin instead, sending you back to your father.
If I had my way," Dionysus said, "I would cause your molecules to erupt in flames. We'd sweep up the ashes and be done with a lot of trouble. But Chiron seems to feel this would be against my mission at this cursed camp: to keep you little brats safe from harm." "Spontaneous combustion is a form of harm, Mr. D," Chiron put in. "Nonsense," Dionysus said. "Boy wouldn't feel a thing. Nevertheless, I've agreed to restrain myself. I'm thinking of turning you into a dolphin instead, sending you back to your father.
Science is the search for the truth--it is not a game in which one tries to beat his opponent, to do harm to others. We need to have the spirit of science in international affairs, to make the conduct of international affairs the effort to find the right solution, the just solution of international problems, and not an effort by each nation to get the better of other nations, to do harm to them when it is possible. I believe in morality, in justice, in humanitarianism.
Science is the search for the truth-it is not a game in which one tries to beat his opponent, to do harm to others. We need to have the spirit of science in international affairs, to make the conduct of international affairs the effort to find the right solution, the just solution of international problems, and not an effort by each nation to get the better of other nations, to do harm to them when it is possible. I believe in morality, in justice, in humanitarianism.
I hate to go mincing through life, afraid to take a single long step for fear somebody is watching. I want to "wave my wild tail and walk by my wild lone." There wasn't a bit of real harm in my opening that window and talking to Perry. There wasn't even any harm in his trying to kiss me. He just did it to tease me. Oh, I hate conventions. As you say, hang consequences.' 'But we can't hang 'em, Pussy - that's just the trouble. They're more likely to hang us.
What, on the eternal list of priorities, precedes health? What more obvious role could government have than the defense of the life, of each citizen? We cannot stop every germ that seeks to harm us any more than we can stop every person who seeks to harm us. But we can try dammit and government's essential role in that effort facilitate it, reduce its cost, broaden its availability, improve my health and yours, seems, ultimately, self-explanatory.
what I mean by Socialism is a condition of society in which there should be neither rich nor poor, neither master nor master's man, neither idle nor overworked, neither brain slack brain workers, nor heart sick hand workers, in a word, in which all men would be living in equality of condition, and would manage their affairs unwastefully, and with the full consciousness that harm to one would mean harm to all-the realisation at last of the meaning of the word commonwealth.
My choice is what I choose to do, And if I'm causing no harm, it shouldn't bother you. Your choice is who you choose to be, And if you're causin' no harm, then you're alright with me. If you don't like my fire, then don't come around, 'cause I'm gonna burn one down. Yes, I'm gonna burn one down. Herb the gift from the earth, And what's from the earth is of the greatest worth. So before you knock it try it first, Oh, you'll see it's a blessing and not a curse.
As a Jew and a psychologist, I understand the stress that religious communities feel in connection with questioning of circumcision... I raise these questions out of deep caring and compassion, for our community generally, and our male infants in particular. We are inflicting, generally, unrecognized harm with circumcision, and the perpetuation of this harm is far greater a concern than the discomfort that comes from confronting the advisability of this practice. Many Jews who do not circumcise in North America, South America, Europe, and Israel support this view.
Literature for me... tries to heal the harm done by stories. (How much harm? Most of the atrocities of history have been created by stories, e.g., the Jews killed Jesus.) I follow Sartre that the freedom the author claims for herself must be shared with the reader. So that would mean that literature is stories that put themselves at the disposal of readers who want to heal themselves. Their healing power lies in their honesty, the freshness of their vision, the new and unexpected things they show, the increase in power and responsibility they give the reader.
We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won't do harm - yes, choose a place where you won't do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.
And they followed what the devils taught during the reign of Solomon. It was not Solomon who disbelieved, but it was the devils who disbelieved. They taught the people witchcraft and what was revealed in Babylon to the two angels Harut and Marut. They did not teach anybody until they had said, "We are a test, so do not lose faith." But they learned from them the means to cause separation between man and his wife. But they cannot harm anyone except with Allah's permission. And they learned what would harm them and not benefit them. Yet they knew that whoever deals in it will have no share in the Hereafter. Miserable is what they sold their souls for, if they only knew.
The anceints devoted a lifetime to the study of arithmetic; it required days to extract a square root or to multiply two numbers together. Is there any harm in skipping all that, in letting the school boy learn multiplication sums, and in starting his more abstract reasoning at a more advanced point. Where would be the harm in letting the boy assume the truth of many propositions of the first four books of Euclid, letting him assume their truth partly by faith, partly by trial?
Peace is not merely the absence of warfare, any more than true health is simply the absence of disease. Nor is peace simply a quiet state of equilibrium-impossible to achieve in an evolving system. Though refraining from harm is an essential first step, lasting peace is created by actively redressing harm done. Peace is a creative process of actively joining I and thou into a co-creative we. It requires authentic communication, empathic listening, and wildly creative solutions.