Today’s quote comes from English novelist and playwright John Galsworthy (14 August 1867 – 31 January 1933), who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1932. In one volume of his “Forsyte Saga” series of novels, In Chancery, he included this:
I don’t know much about morality and that, but there is this: It’s always worth while before you do anything to consider whether it’s going to hurt another person more than is absolutely necessary.
That reminds me of a Heinlein quote from “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long,” as well as the “Silver Rule.” Where the Golden Rule is positive — “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you” — the Silver Rule (as I understand it) is similar but negative: “Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.”
Sometimes we don’t intend to hurt others but we fail to foresee all the consequences of our actions. Sometimes causing a little bit of hurt seems necessary, as when a surgeon cuts a patient in order to remove diseased tissue. However, if we anticipate that the consequences of our actions will include hurting someone, then Galsworthy’s approach seems to me like a nice principle to apply. We might refrain, or so something different, if we think we may hurt them more than necessary.
Perhaps we can all give it a try, at least for this week.by