Primum non nocere (First, do no harm)

There are few maxims in the western tradition that are more misunderstood than this one:

“First, do no harm”

I say misunderstood because it is often difficult for people, in their haste or excitement, to see the impact of their actions beyond the immediate thrill.

It is, of course, most prevalent in the “gotcha” politics of today, where everyone’s a hypocrite.

There are ways to make a point, beyond the most blatantly obvious.

There are ways to make a stand without making it look like a purely political device.

There are ways to bring change without needing to take full credit for it.

In politics, more than half of message is the messenger. When the messenger is more interested in self-interest than public interest, the message will turn against him.

There’s an arrogance in wanting to get credit for certain things. An arrogance and a lack of recognition of other people’s realities.

That’s where the harm, now two-fold, is committed…upon yourself, and your victim’s victim.

And through that harm, so too is lost the opportunity to make a larger point, that would have served the public good rather than your short-term self-interest.

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