Sunday, June 7, 2015

Book Review: Most Good, Least Harm by Zoe Weil

This is a gently powerful book worth reading if you crave a life of thoughtful choices for yourself and the planet.  The staff at the Detroit Zoological Society recommended it to me; it is one of the guidebooks behind their marvelous Humane Education program. It has been a very important read for me. [They also recommend Weil's The Power and Promise of Humane Education which I'll review next.]

Whether you worry about environmental sustainability, animal welfare, a civil society, or personal peace, this book has something for you. The author, Weill, says this “is not a how-to book…instead a call to define for yourself your deepest values, and to live accordingly…followed by practical information and guidelines that will help you achieve this goal….”

I hope you will consider reading it yourself, bringing it to your book group, or suggesting it as a group read to your green team or staff.  It is helpful with struggles such as “how do I know what’s right”, “I’m tired of being the only one doing this”, and “does one person this really make a difference?”

My favorite lines:

  •  Vaclav Havel, 1993: “There is only one way to strive for decency, reason, responsibility, sincerity, civility and tolerance [I add “honesty”], and that is decently, reasonably, responsibly, sincerely, civilly, and tolerantly” [and honestly.]
  • “…it’s still not possible to cause no harm at all. Yet each of us – you and I and everyone who is privileged enough to actually make consumer, political, career, recreation and lifestyle choices – is responsible for the effect of our choices….”
  • “For many of us, the image of an activist is an angry, sign-toting, slogan-changing protester…but there are many different ways to be an activist – that is someone active on behalf of others, a change maker.

People notice other people: what they do, and don’t say or do. You’re being noticed. When you do your best, you’re making a difference – a very important one. Thank you.

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