A bold step toward the gentle side
By Anita Creamer - Bee Columnist
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December
Clyde Grossman put the bumper sticker on his car, his wife noticed that he began driving more considerately.
Well, of course.
It would set a really sorry example for him to honk and rage his way down the
highway with "Do No Harm" prominently displayed on his car's back bumper.
"I know. I know," says Grossman, 59, a video game industry agent and
former Bay Area computer programmer who now lives in the Little Pocket.
And so a grass-roots social movement slowly takes shape.
There's no established association at work behind the Do No Harm bumper sticker and Web site, www.donoharm.us. There's no nonprofit group, no religion, no philosophical consortium.
There's only Grossman and a Pennsylvania
man named Chuck Keiser. They're Internet pen pals, if you want to think of it that way: They struck up an e-mail correspondence
some time back after getting to know each other through Internet discussions.
Then Keiser e-mailed Grossman the draft of an essay outlining his thoughts on
how the world would be a better place if we all learned to tread a bit more lightly and consider the impact of our actions
"I was so taken by the
simple phrase he used, 'Do no harm,' " says Grossman. "I can get philosophical about it, but it's so
simple. It carries a message a child can understand."
So he edited and refined Keiser's essay, and he decided a few more people needed to think about doing no
Their site, containing Keiser's
essay and Grossman's reflections, has received about 8,000 hits since being launched in June.
It's a gentle, nonjudgmental reminder that whatever we do ripples out into
the world around us, affecting other people.
"Everyone sees 'Do No Harm' and understands it differently," says Grossman. "Not only
are we comfortable with that, we want people to reflect on that and live it in a way that's comfortable to them. We're
not trying to impose some sort of guidelines.
"People know what pain and suffering are, directly and personally. We're saying, 'You're a
human being, so you can imagine someone else's pain and suffering, too.'
"The next step's simple, to think about your actions in a way that minimizes
the suffering you bring into the world."
Needless to say, some people just don't get it.
Grossman discovered that after he printed up the bumper stickers and began trying to hand them out.
"It's not like I stop people on the
street," he says. "But every once in a while, somebody catches my eye, and I might offer the bumper sticker to them.
Or in a parking lot, somebody might remark about the bumper sticker."
At first, he says, people tend to be hesitant, concerned that he's affiliated
with a particular religious group or promoting a political agenda of some sort.
This, even though in terms of religion, the message is fairly universal -- and
in terms of politics, it's in extremely short supply.
"We're not asking for money or for people to sign anything," he says. "There's no list
of dos and don'ts. And we don't pressure people.
"The saddest thing to me is that some people are afraid of taking a stand even on something as non-threatening
as 'Do No Harm.' "
possible they like doing harm.
it's possible they're just too distracted by the world around them to focus on a statement that's so quiet and
subtle, so straightforward and undemanding and humble.
Or maybe they think it's a trick, this idea of living mindfully and compassionately.
"We're just asking people to pause and
consider their actions," says Grossman. "And to consider the effect their actions will have on the world."
That's all. But that's a lot.
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