First, do no harm.
Not doing harm is the first precept or training principle in Buddhism. Not harming is also part of the Hippocratic oath that was part of my training as a doctor.
But what does it really mean to not harm? For me personally, it means being ethical and truthful to those around me. It means not eating meat. It means trying to live a simple life.
Nowadays my work is more about the health of populations rather than clinical work with individuals. And here not harming is much broader. Harming is continuing a system that destroys the planet we live on and is our basis for life. Harming is continuing the traffic that creates the pollution that gives young children asthma and kills people in my city. Our continuing addiction to fossil fuels and consumption in general is harmful. And not telling the truth about the possible catastrophic consequences of climate change is harmful too.
That’s why I joined XR. I don’t like causing inconvenience or blocking roads or even standing out. In fact, I have spent lots of effort on blending in as best as I can, first as a working-class person at college and uni and then as a foreigner in the UK. But after years of making personal changes and campaigning in less obstructive ways, I feel non-violent civil disobedience is the only option left.
Last rebellion there was one day after the protest had effectively been banned where we were marching and I really felt intimidated by the amount of police. Police standing on the side of the road, police on horses, police in helicopters. I must have looked terrified when a fellow rebel saw my tears and was kind. That helped me to go on. I felt fear but I also felt intensely connected to my values and this community of like-minded people. For me its really important not just that I protest but also how, and I am glad to have found a way with XR (and XR Buddhists) to stand for what I believe in and hopefully make a change – avoid harm.
Katja is a member of XR Buddhists
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