At least do no harm

There is so much sadness and pain in the world, it’s completely overwhelming!
Broken families, accidents, wars, neglected children and youth, tornado damage, corporate disloyalty, hurt feelings, painful illnesses, minimum wage, bombings, and deaths of a pet.
The list goes on.
We each have our own losses and pain to cope with. And none of us ever dare belittle the pain of another human being.
How can the loss of a pet be compared to the loss of a spouse for instance, you say. That all depends!
Years ago, when my husband began teaching in a midwestern U.S. college, we met a highly-respected retired English professor–Honora Becker. As a young faculty wife, I became friends with Honora because of our mutual love for dogs.
At the time, we had a cocker spaniel–a very small dog. But Honora had an even smaller pet–more lap-sized, which she loved dearly.
It’s so long ago that I have forgotten the name of Honora’s darling dog. But I remember the dog!
One day, I heard the sad news that Honora’s beloved pet had been hit by a car and died. I immediately went to her upstairs apartment in college housing. I knocked at the door and she said, “Come in.”
Her first words were, “He’s gone!”
As we cried and talked together, she poignantly said, “No one understands.”
I assured her that I understood. But did I? I had a husband, two children, my mother, and my little cocker spaniel.
Honora’s mother had been long gone and she had never married. Her extended family was the other faculty and former students who loved her dearly. And her immediate family was her little dog.
She was right. No one understood. After the event, I never heard anyone mention Honora’s unbearable loss. After all, it was only a dog!
Some losses and pain are accidental. Some are unavoidable. Some are deliberate and unnecessary. But all need healing—and that’s where you come in.
Since antiquity, philosophers, poets, physicians, and sages have spoken on this issue. Listen to what they have to say.
As for your inevitable personal pain, “Life is thickly sown with thorns,” said French philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778). “And I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them.
“The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.”
It’s important that we cope well with our personal pain in order to focus on the anguish and sorrow of others.
Sixth-century Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu spoke to that issue: “The more you help others, the more you benefit yourself. The more you give to others, the more you get yourself.”
Lao Tzu also said, “The Way of Heaven does one good but never does one harm.”
The “no harm” idea has been repeated through the centuries, beginning with physician Hippocrates (460 BC-377 BC). “Make a habit of two things: to help; or at least to do no harm.”
The same wisdom was repeated 2,500 years later by the present-day Dalai Lama.
“If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”
So make a habit of doing these two things. Help with the healing when you can, and at least do no harm.
Write Marie Snider at