Monday, March 9, 2009

Do No Harm!

These are the words at the core of the concept of the hypocritic oath. These words and concept caused me to reflect of late but before I share my thoughts let me share the full oath:

For some reason with Buddy’s death this oath kept rattling in my head because this was not just an oath to him but how he lived his life in general.


I swear by Apollo, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath.

To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art.

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.

For some reason with Buddy’s death this oath kept rattling in my head because this was not just an oath to him but how he lived his life in general.


Lately I have been struggling with the issue of what is right. Seems like a cut and dry topic but it is anything but because it is actually a very subjective question based on one’s personal values. What may seem right to you may seem illegal or dare I say immoral to me. Your tradition may say it ia ok to lie and exploit to never give your word, to be vague and non committal and to tell people what they want to hear to further your own agenda and yet these things to me are wrong and the actions cause harm. 

Imagine this if you will – a ceremonial right of passage to adulthood where everyone is required to take an oath that is a part of a ceremony to induct them into adulthood. Imagine a cotillion or jabberwocky but for both sexes and regardless of social economic income. Imagine a children in front of their peers and parents taking a oath, a promise or commitment to live as a responsible adult.   

Consider this

Characteristics of Healthy Adult-Child Relationships

by Jane Bluestein, Ph.D.

Healthy, functional relationships between adults and children (including teacher-student relationships) are characterized by the following. Increasing the presence of these characteristics in your relationships is a great way to improve commitment, communications, cooperation and consideration, and reduce stress and conflict as well!


The ability to recognize and, whenever possible, accommodate the child’s need for unconditional love and acceptance, safety, belonging, success, limits, fun, recognition and control (power), without allowing anyone else’s needs to be violated. Anticipating; doing before (there is a problem); letting the child know limits or conditions ahead of time. Alternative to reactivity.


The ability to get one's needs met without violating anyone else, particularly with regard to empowering a child without disempowering oneself. The ability to resolve and prevent conflict by sharing power within an authority relationship. The ability to offer choices within limits to encourage cooperation instead of obedience and people-pleasing. Alternative to win-lose (powering or permissiveness).

Success Orientation

The ability to help a child succeed by giving clear directions, setting boundaries, offering opportunities to choose and negotiate, requesting age-appropriate behaviors and responses, accommodating curricular and learning style needs, giving opportunities to self-manage and staying in present time (teaching according to a child’s current needs, not anticipated demands of other teachers or grade levels in the future). Alternative to unrealistic expectations, misunderstandings, instruction or environments poorly matched to child’s needs, and "set ups" for failure, passivity or rebelliousness.


The ability to differentiate the child's worth from his or her behavior. The ability to focus on what the child is doing right and building on strengths. The ability to create a reward-oriented environment in which consequences are positive outcomes and incentives received or experienced as a result of cooperation. The ability to communicate positively (using promises instead of threats, or reward instead of punishment, for example). The ability to maintain a sense of humor. Alternative to negativity and punitive orientation.

Eliminating Double Standards

The ability to interact and communicate with a child in ways that would be acceptable to an adult. The willingness to maintain consistency between one's own behaviors and those expected of the child. The ability to respond to a child’s behavior in similar ways as would be inspired by the same behavior if it were demonstrated by an adult. The willingness to accept the fact that childs require meaningful, positive outcomes for their efforts, just as adults do.


The ability to connect what you want with what the child wants in positive ways. The ability to motivate and reinforce cooperative behavior with outcomes other than adult approval or avoidance of negative adult reactions (shaming, criticism, abandonment). The willingness to withhold positive consequences until the child has held up his end of the bargain. The ability to immediately intervene breaches in conditions or limits of a boundary, avoiding warnings, delayed consequences, punishment, or praise.


The ability to respond to a child’s problems or feelings with acceptance, support and validation. The willingness to provide outlets for a child’s feelings that will allow the child to externalize the feelings (get them out) without hurting himself or others. The ability to help the child seek solutions to problems without enabling, fixing, dismissing or judging the child's problems or feelings. The ability to resist adopting a child’s feelings or take responsibility for the solutions to his problems, either directly solving the problems or giving advice or solutions (“shoulds”).


The ability to maintain congruence between personal values and behavior. The ability to hear and respond according to inner guidance and personal values. The ability to act within personal value system despite potential or actual criticism from others. The willingness to make decisions based on what is best for a particular child or group of children, rather than simply, automatically following tradition. The ability to withstand judgment, criticism and ridicule if necessary, without becoming defensive, apologetic or reactive. The willingness to maintain documentation to support decisions, when necessary.


The ability to take responsibility for feelings, without attempting to make others responsible. The ability to express feelings in non-hurtful ways. The ability to depersonalize and resolve conflict. The ability to work with the child's teachers (or other adults in the child's life) without projecting blame or demanding that they take responsibility for solving problems you may be having with a your child. The ability to resist blaming your child for lapses in your own behavior or language.


The ability to identify personal needs and feelings, set boundaries, take time for self, self-validate and get help when necessary. The ability to distinguish between self-care and selfishness. The ability to feel deserving of self-caring behaviors and decisions. The ability to use personal mistakes and failures as opportunities for new goals, strategies or growth. The ability to utilize support resources while maintaining responsibility for solving one's own problems. The ability to self-forgive. 

While I am playing here is a thought for a possible oath as a right of passage to adulthood. 

I promise by in front of my peers, family, before my ancestors and all those I respect and hold dear  to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath.

To consider dear to me, as my parents, those who taught me; to live in common with them and, if necessary, to share my goods with them; To look upon their children as my own, to teach them by my example.

I will  never do harm to anyone and will work to always preserve the purity of my life and those I interact with.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of those in living there, keeping myself far from all intentional wrong doing.

I will work to keep all things shred with me in confidence that do not violate this oath  of doing no harm secret and will not divulge personal or business confidential information for my personal gain .

If I keep this oath faithfully, I may I enjoy my life, finding both personal and professional fulfillment because I should be respected by all people of merit at all times. Further I am aware if I  violate my oath it may leave to my personal and/or professional demise or downfall.

Imagine if you will ever child having to take such an oath and signing it to be mounted on their walls and carried in a card form in their wallet or purse – what kind of country do you think this would be?

What are your thoughts?

Eminem - Role Model

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