I have one principle in life. It is patterned after a statement included in the teachings of my hero, Hillel the Elder. His statement goes: “Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” After saying it, he added that the rest of any teachings is mere commentary, which we should go and study. Naturally, it must be simplified into a short statement so as to fit into our modern lives, since Hillel lived about two thousand years ago. So I did simplify it, and here it is: “Do Not Hurt.” I try to follow it as much as I can, and to my knowledge, I never hurt anyone or anything voluntarily. I am sure I do it by accident sometimes, but it is not intended and one can only do one’s best.
When the old year was softly replaced by the new, I was already home. It was a cold night, very peaceful, the cats were sleeping in their warm places after their midnight snack, and I was making a cup of tea. I reflected that I had a very pleasant, busy, and happy holiday season, and that even though I was really tired, I was also unusually relaxed, and my tendency to rush and do everything at once obsessively, was for once gone. I could think clearly.
So in a lazy sort of way, over my very nice Earl Grey tea with just a bit of almond milk (as it should be prepared) I examined my principle of not hurting and how it fitted into my current existence. To my disgust, I realized that I was hurting someone after all. I was pushing this someone to the limits, denying her rest and relaxation, forcing her to do many things she does not like to do instead of concentrating on the things she loved, and the truth is, for no real reason. This someone is me, as you probably realize, and I tried to decide whether I had the right to do so.
In some cases, yes, it is entirely legitimate to hurt myself. If being kind to myself is based on hurting others, I should take their needs into consideration before doing anything at all because I don’t have the right to hurt anyone just to further my own happiness. But if no others are involved, I think it is just as reprehensible to hurt oneself as it is to hurt someone else. This must stop.
I am stopping it right now. I don’t need to make a New Year Resolution to do so. I just have to continue to follow the principle I have followed for so many years. Do Not Hurt. Thank you again, Hillel the Elder.