Monday, June 13, 2011

Do No Harm

Bal Tashchit / Do Not Destroy:  The June 2011 issue of Albuquerque The Magazine features an all-too-brief article, A Harmless Song, about one of John Feldman's latest projects.  John, as many of you know, is the leader of the Curio Cowboys, New Mexico's premier western swing band.  As Abq The Mag notes, he practices mediation and teaches it at the University of New Mexico, where he's also assistant dean for career services.

And he's also involved with the movement to Do No Harm.  And yes, there is an international organization that encourages us all to Do No Harm.  The Do No Harm organization states:
We seem to be living in a world that is getting less hospitable every day. Look closely at any endeavor our species has engaged in and it appears we are unaware of the harm we do, we ignore the harm we do, we intentionally do harm for our own gain, or sadly in some cases we do harm for our own pleasure and enjoyment.

Has no one taught us to do no harm?

If we haven't been taught to do no harm, we see no harm in doing harm. We cause harm and shrug it off. We cause harm and laugh about it. We cause harm and brag about it.

Sadder still, our children bear witness to our actions and never learn to do no harm themselves. Above all else we must teach our children, by example and instruction, this basic moral principle of life.

We must begin to make better choices and treat each other, the other creatures who share this planet with us, and this planet we call home with greater respect and compassion.
Abq Jew views Do No Harm as another version of the Talmudic command Bal Tashchit - Do Not Destroy.  Elion Schwartz says in Jewish Heritage Online Magazine:
The Talmudic law bal tashchit ("do not destroy") is the most predominant Jewish precept cited in contemporary Jewish writings on the environment. This article gives an extensive survey of the roots and different interpretations of the precept from within the tradition.

The precept of bal tashchit has its roots in the Biblical command [Deuteronomy 20: 19-20] not to destroy fruit-bearing trees while laying a siege to a warring city. The Rabbis expanded this injunction into the general precept of bal tashchit, a ban on wanton destruction. 
Do No Harm also interprets its message very broadly, and John has been inspired by that message to write a song called - what else? - Do No Harm.  And here it is.

Abq Jew cannot help but note with extreme pleasure the strong links between bluegrass, western swing,  singer / songwriter / folk  music, and the Jewish tradition.  And the angels sing!

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