Why We Act, Why We Fuck Up

Primum non nocere

“If you aren’t speaking out, you are part of the problem.”

“If you aren’t in the streets, you are part of the problem.”

All variations of “If you don’t agree with me and act the way I’d like you to act, then you are part of the (i.e. my) problem.”

All variations of gatekeeping.

While some assert that inaction is itself a type of violence, there are plenty of cases where action is more harmful than inaction. It is often wise not to take action at the height of fear, anger, or resentment, when we are most capable of trading our humanity for a feeling of safety, a thirst for justice.

Sometimes we just don’t know the answer, and that’s okay.

As part of the Hippocratic oath, doctors pledge to “not be ashamed to say ‘I know not.’”

At the heart of the Hippocratic oath is the principle, primum non nocere: first, do no harm.

In times when we are called to act boldly, action itself is not the virtue. As doctors recognize, sometimes the best treatment they can provide in the moment is to listen, to comfort, and do their best to learn. Primum non nocere.