That Hippocrates might have been onto something with the whole, ‘doing no harm’ in his oath. That was such a gem, I can pretend he didn’t go on ramble about, “his” this, “him” that, brothers, sons and men, men, men.
No room for women in the bathhouse eh, Hippo?
When each day seems to bring a new headline about bullying, be it cyber, in school or even in NFL locker rooms, doing no harm sounds like a salve. While I know that extreme cases like those exist – shout out to the 80’s and the pack of roving mean girls who preyed on me like rabid coyotes – it is the quiet, more passive harm that has me waxing Greek Philosopher.
I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time lately pondering, even dealing with, the rippling effects of the harm we do to one another. Be it the small sting that comes from being excluded, to the deeper bruising caused by discarding the entirety of a person’s spirit.
Living in a world of words, managing to make living from them, I am keenly aware of the power they have.
To be told you are beautiful – at that exact moment when you feel anything but – by the one person whom you so desperately want… does there exist here any drug that can take you higher?
Hearing your child whisper, “I love you,” with their eyes closed, as they drift off to sleep… if your heart doesn’t break from the purest joy ever felt by a human, you need to check your species.
Then there are the words that harm.
“I’m sorry. You’re great. There is someone perfect for you, it’s just not me,” …decades later typing that still made my chest hurt.
“I can’t right now. I’m on a deadline. I promise I’ll make it up to you,” …sounds pretty harmless, until you say it over-and-over and never make it up to them.
“I promise you,” …ah, this one is a tough one. It can go either way, can’t it? The scars left behind by broken promises rarely completely fade away.
Perhaps it has something to do with being on the down slope of forty, but these days I feel as though I need an oath of my own. A mantra that serves as a reminder to be mindful, avoid doing harm. One that also empowers, taking back the control and refusing to allow others to do harm to me.. or to you for that mater. We can call this the ‘Hippocratic Oath of the 40 Something Woman’
Let’s keep it a simple philosophy, very UN-Greek.