Do No Harm — Mindful Engagement for a World in Crisis (3rd Edition 2021)
To take good care of ourselves and our world is a universal obligation
of fundamental importance. Courageous and thoughtful, Wendy
Wood, PhD and Thaïs Mazur, PhD have written a guide for responding
purposefully and with compassion to the challenges the world faces
at home and abroad. They share the stories of people who exemplify
the essence of what it means to live and work in ways that do no
harm, without domination and divisiveness. Whether you are a
social activist, educator, healthcare worker, community advocate, or
someone who is wanting to ‘just do something’, engaging mindfully
can become a source and foundation for bringing actions into the
world that support the change we are hoping to initiate and realize.
The world is a perilous and complicated place, and the sheer magnitude of human suffering and environmental destruction is incomprehensible. While many of us dream of a kinder, more just, and safer world, we may also feel burdened by powerlessness and despair. How we respond in such times takes deliberate, conscious awareness. It requires us to show up as our best possible selves. But how are we to do this? If we sit back and hope that things will improve, that will most likely never happen. We need the skills, ability, and willingness to work together towards a freer and better civil society. We must lead from both our hearts and our minds. We must learn how to act in ways that do not harm, from a place of balanced determination and with equal regard for all people-from a place of equanimity. This book is designed to help you do just that. The qualities, the stories and the practices within this book, provide the insight, skills, and tools needed to embrace our shared humanity, build resilience, transform conflict, and create meaningful change. This is a guide book that will give you the opportunity to understand and practice the principles and qualities of Mindful Engagement, as well as an opportunity to read stories of people whose lives and work represent these qualities.
The voices you will hear within this book include:
- A mediator whose work has redefined the field of mediation, conflict resolution, and peace building throughout the world;
- A Roman Catholic nun whose activism around issues of human rights, along with her public presence, has influenced national political and social decisions and policies;
- An indigenous grandmother and activist working tirelessly to save the birthing grounds of the caribou in Alaska from oil drilling;
- A woman who, along with her husband, creates a healing center for mothers and children living in Fukushima and suffering from radiation exposure;
- A pediatric psychiatrist and early childhood trauma expert who has reshaped our understanding and approach to working with children exposed to violence and neglect;
- A social worker who founded a job-training, earth stewardship program for former inmates and at-risk youth;
- A mother who loses her son in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and subsequently co-founds an organization united to turn grief into actions for peace.
The people in these stories exemplify the essence of what it means to work in ways that do no harm. Their shared wisdom is a way finding-a way through. After years of experience, contemplation, successes, and failures, these people have embraced certain qualities they express as essential in their work and their daily lives-the qualities of Mindful Engagement. These core qualities that each person possesses, practices, embodies, and applies-authenticity, deep listening, wise speech, mindfulness, compassion, love and joy-are part of a wheel, an intersection of pain and beauty, where one informs the other.
Whether you are a social activist, educator, healthcare worker, community advocate, or someone who is wanting to ‘just do something’ to alter the course of the challenges we face as a society, engaging mindfully can become a source and foundation for bringing actions into the world that do not harm. Mindful engagement is a practice, and like all practices, the more we live it, the more we can fully embrace, embody, and share it with others. If we are to act for the common good while navigating ordinary, as well as difficult and perilous situations, then we must do so responsibly, with good intentions, confidence, purpose, and kindness. Our mindful presence, focused attention, and motivations will support the change we are hop- ing to initiate and realize.
Praise for Do No Harm
Through the stories of seventeen individuals we are given the gift of experience and wisdom demonstrating the power of mindful engagement and altruism to change not only our own lives but the lives of those around us. This book is an explosion of grace and enlightenment. —James R. Doty, MD, Director of CCARE, Stanford University
With both sensitivity and boldness, Dr. Wendy Wood and Dr. Thaïs Mazur examine the nature and quality of collective social and environmental responsibility. The reader is called upon to search deeply within about how his or her own experiences might be shaped by these qualities of meaningful engagement and altruism, thus asking the profound question: What is required to truly Do No Harm? —Integral Publishers
If you care about the world, then this is a must read! —Joan Jiko Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center
Do No Harm is the perfect medicine for what ails the world today. In this book, Wendy and Thaïs elegantly articulate the elusive balance between the responsibility of sovereign individuals and the cooperative potential of collective awareness. And it’s a great read, including beautiful stories and practical advice. —Duncan Autrey, Host of Fractal Friends Podcast, Democracy Politics and Conflict Engagement Initiative
Into our troubled world, where differences more readily give rise to conflict than to mutual reverence, comes this gem of a book. Read it only if you are open to becoming a more enlightened human being. —Marilyn Lacey, Founder and Executive Director of Mercy Beyond Borders
The stories offer many insights and questions we all need to consider as we try to live our lives to help work for justice and peace and environmental sanity. —David Hartsough, Peaceworkers
Wood and Mazur showcase repeatedly in this book, sometimes people’s best efforts and most humane causes can actually produce new struggles and cause harm. Hardly anyone who causes conflict in the world does so knowingly and often does so with the best of intentions. This book attempts, and largely succeeds, in not only examining the global need for collective and progressive improvement but in also managing to provide the reader with the tools needed to improve the circle of humanity that revolves around them. Told in a series of detailed and in-depth interviews, this book not only encourages participation, it also provides so many powerful insights to move the reader towards a more mindful approach to life. Brilliant, richly told, and openly hopeful, this is a book that any world weary person can take comfort in. —Manhattan Book Review
The range of contributors in this book is gratifying: a neuroscientist who works with and for traumatized children, a ‘guerilla midwife’ whose work it is to assist in delivering babies in environmental disaster zones and war zones, mediators and wisdom teachers. The importance of language, and particularly stories, is a common theme. Terms like compassion, mindfulness, and humility occur throughout, and Do No Harm offers inspiration for all those who respond to those key values. In that sense it can complement nonviolence and nonviolent action, and is a welcome addition. —Michael Nagler The Metta Center for Nonviolence, Founder and President
Consolidating thousands of years of human techniques for supporting others and fostering change, while doing no harm, is no easy task. Wood and Mazur have done it with great skill in the book Do No Harm. If you work with and support people in conflict, drop everything, get this book and read it cover to cover. This “how to” book has nothing to do with lists or charts or secret methodologies. It goes much deeper as it lands you right smack dab in the middle of understanding your own deepest ways of interacting so you don’t unintentionally make things worse. Front and center on my shelf of books for mak ing change, and resolving organizational conflicts is Wood and Mazur’s Do No Harm. This work is a solid touchstone for those of us who work to support positive culture, engagement, and good interpersonal relationships, and don’t want to make things worse through our involvement. —Mark Batson Baril, Founder of San Francisco USA based Resologics
In the midst of all that is going on in the world and as we struggle to make our way through difficult situations, this book gives us some good insights into how to respond when faced with challenges and to show up the best way we can. —Richard Grayson, Veterans for Peace