Commit no wrong, but good deeds do, and let thy heart be pure.” —Dhammapada
We have to consciously decide that to the best of our individual ability, and out of respect for life and all the beings, animals, and plants, we will live our lives in a way that doesn’t bring harm to others. The decisions we make must take into account our connection to the greater community. The greatest contribution we can make to our community is to have lived harmoniously. To have been in sync with life rather than perpetuating pain… We don’t want to soil [our existence] with harmful actions, words, or thoughts.” —Angel Kyodo Williams
One of the hardest things about navigating the public sphere as a person of faith is recognizing and also teaching others that sincerity of belief isn’t the prime measure of the good.
We can be sincerely and sweetly wrong. Sometimes our wrongness has deep and multi-faceted negative impacts on people. We all deserve our own journeys, and at the same time, some people’s stories can affect millions of others’.
Public policy depends on the leveraging of individual experiences like lobbying, canvassing, and voting, and the mass mobilization of hundreds of thousands of people. It matters so much that people in general and people of faith in particular harness our ability to link values and real world consequences, teach others to recognize that link, and take accessible action to improve our world.
It’s not enough, as Miki Kashtan has written, for isolated individuals to change. We don’t have the time for the drip-drip that carved the Grand Canyon! And we don’t have to wait that long either. Instead we can redesign the contexts in which individuals choose what it means to “not do harm.” Redesigning can take a lifetime or two, but it’s that mass action that really makes the change.