Monday, July 21, 2014

Do No Harm: In Remembrance of Chuck, "CC" Keiser

Who was CC Keiser? For those who knew him, he was someone with much to share. But after a battle with cancer, he requested there be no memorial service when he died. He was cremated, but his family gathered at CC's step Father's grave and, after each said a few words of remembrance, three Chinese lanterns were lit and set afloat.

   Chuck Keiser, or CC as he was known, was the co-author of an essay that started a grass roots movement. He was from Pennsylvania, a guy in the neighborhood, like you or like me. A guy who started a movement.  It was a quiet movement. An unobtrusive movement. An organic movement. A movement you may know nothing about. It was a movement he did nothing to promote. 

   The movement he authored, with his California internet friend Clyde Grossman, is called Do No Harm. I caught wind of it when I picked up a free bumper sticker at a yoga studio I was visiting for the first time. It was a round disk shaped sticker with the word “Harm” on it, and the circle was outlined in red, with a red line running diagonally through it. It meant “no harm”. Underneath was a website: .  When I went to the website, I found this essay; the essay that started it all:

“We seem to be living in a world that is getting less hospitable every day. Look closely at any endeavor our species has engaged in and it appears we are unaware of the harm we do, we ignore the harm we do, we intentionally do harm for our own gain, or sadly in some cases we do harm for our own pleasure and enjoyment.

Has no one taught us to do no harm?

If we haven't been taught to do no harm, we see no harm in doing harm. We cause harm and shrug it off. We cause harm and laugh about it. We cause harm and brag about it.

Sadder still, our children bear witness to our actions and never learn to do no harm themselves. Above all else we must teach our children, by example and instruction, this basic moral principle of life.

We must begin to make better choices and treat each other, the other creatures who share this planet with us, and this planet we call home with greater respect and compassion.

We believe that the first and most basic moral law is, "Do no harm." Because we can feel pain and suffering, we can imagine the pain and suffering of others, and we can act accordingly to minimize the harm we cause.

What does "do no harm" mean? Ultimately it means to give thoughtful consideration to our actions. “Do no harm” simply means to consider how our actions may affect the world we all share, to be compassionate in our dealings with all creatures, and not to thoughtlessly despoil our planet.

Doctors are asked to “first do no harm,” why not lawyers, businessmen, religious leaders and politicians? Why not us? Why not now?

It sounds like a simple idea because it is a simple idea, but it may be effective over the long run. Will “do no harm” solve all the problems in our world? Perhaps not, but this is an effort to decrease the suffering in the world and to increase the kindness.

We hope that “do no harm” becomes that little voice that guides our actions.

And we hope you will join us and spread the message "Do no harm."

Show everyone you care and use “Do no harm” to sign-off in your correspondence in place of "Best Wishes", "Yours" or "Regards."

If you have a web site, be proud of your support and add the words “Do No Harm” to the top of your home page where everyone will see it.

Be bold and creative in thinking of ways to expose as many as possible to the “Do No Harm” message, but please, do no harm in doing so.

It is not necessary to mention the source of the message. This is certainly a case where the message is far more important than the messengers. All we ask is that you practice do no harm and take every opportunity to share the words "do no harm" with others.

If you wish to include this essay or link to the “Do No Harm” web page, please do; or if you wish to change the wording or write your own, that's equally OK with us. If we are to change our world for the better, we simply must share the “Do No Harm” message with family and friends, with neighbors and our community.

You can add a comment , or if you wish, send us your own thoughts or reflections and we will add them to this web site.

Sometimes, all you really need to do is ask:

Please . . .  do no harm!

c.c.keiser & clyde grossman “

   This essay made sense to me. I expect it makes sense to everyone. Everyone, that is, who has suffered at the hands or words or actions of another, which is everyone. Everyone who’s seen harm done. Which is everyone. Everyone who’s done harm, which is everyone. How many of us have seen harm done or sensed it, and done nothing to end it? Or done nothing to prevent it?  How many have remorse for harming, not by doing something, but by doing nothing? What keeps us from doing something? Saying something?

   The Do No Harm website, was launched by the two Internet friends in June of 2006. In December of 2006, Anita Creamer, of the Sacramento Bee wrote a story on the movement. She called it a Bold Step Toward the Gentle Side. She told of CC and Clyde’s friendship and how CC had written the essay and shared it with Clyde, Clyde edited it and they began the website.

Anita wrote,

“It’s a gentle, non-judgmental reminder, that whatever we do ripples out into the world around us affecting other people.”

   As simple as that is, there are those who show concern. Those who wonder whose agenda you are pushing. But that wasn’t CC’s intention.

   It seems the message is a reminder only, and as the authors intended, it’s up to the individual to interpret it in the way their life dictated, and that this might happen by personal reflection.

   The bumper stickers, and eventually wristlets and buttons serve perhaps only to perk up our ears; to entice us only to go online and see what it’s all about. The rest is up to us. Once you know it, you can’t un-know it.

   Myself, that’s what I did. I also chose to be a distributor of the stickers and wristlets, too. All the benefactor asked, was a contribution towards the cost of shipping. And the benefactor? I’m not sure who that is. I think what happens, is folks just step up and assign themselves roles.

   In February of 2007, Renee A. James wrote an article for the Morning Call reflecting on the trend of kindness for the sake of kindness. Her story was called Free Hugs Do No Harm. She tells of the Free Hug movement, which began in Sydney Australia, and like the Do No Harm Movement, it met with some question. Kindness for the sake of kindness? Non-harming for a better world? CC was on to something.

   Getting back to CC - the reason for this story. What kind of guy was he? He was private. Maybe even shy. He describes himself, in a post he wrote for the website Dudeism, as what the Myers-Brigs personality inventory calls The Counselor. ‘Heavy,’ he says, ‘on the introvert.’ 

In his own words, he says,

I am not a Buddhist…I am not a teacher…I am not a leader and I am not comfortable in the spotlight. All I want is to do is help…help create a kinder, more compassionate world to live in. That is primarily why I wrote the first draft of the Do No Harm essay that Clyde Grossman turned into a bonafide Movement with a web site and everything….in fact in matters such as these I do not believe there are any true teachers…some may serve as guides, but no one can really “teach” how to become aware of your own existence…how to control and create your own universe. How to truly be at peace with yourself and the universe you create. No one can teach you that but yourself.
All anyone else can do is try and give someone else a helping hand up…and say…here…look what I found.”

   In 2010, In my own desire to share what I found, I began a Do No Harm Facebook page.  I contacted Clyde and asked him if it would be appropriate. True to the Do No Harm essay, he didn’t give me any parameters, nor did he want to have a role. But we kept in touch periodically. I didn’t know CC was also on Facebook, but he was. And I didn’t know he had died, until Clyde let me know. His niece made this post to the Do No Harm page:

“Sadly, yesterday his battle with cancer ended. He was a brilliant man who preferred to live a simple life and keep to himself. I know the impact he has had on my life and many other; There will be no services, no donations, nor flowers. I kindly ask for everyone to please continue on with his vision for a better place. Continue to Do No Harm and please keep spreading the word.”

   Sadly, I  know no more. Although his story “Flippin’ Pennies” appears on the Dudeist website, “A Lifestyle Magazine for the Deeply Casual,” His name doesn’t appear on the About Us page as a contributor, and as I look a little further, I don’t see much else. In order to Do No Harm, I’ll not look any further. As his niece noted, he liked to keep to himself. Everything I’ve gathered here has already been written, and his own words sum him up better than I could, having known him not:

 All I want is to do is help…help create a kinder, more compassionate world to live in.” I guess that’s why he wrote the essay.

   On the one hand, I wish I could have met him, but on the other, he wasn't a picket sign sort of guy. The way he preferred it is the way it played out. It's like that  zen-like saying about water; although it's ever so much softer than rock, its persistent flow can wear away at the hardest of rock.

Please. Do No Harm

Meet Rachelle Mee-Chapman, Your Magpie Girl

Meet Rachelle Mee-Chapman: Rachelle offers soul care for creative souls. 
Soul care? What might that be? 

Well it’s a number of things and perhaps not the same thing for each soul she treats. It’s not like she’s a doctor, but she kind of is. She’s got a few potent prescriptions she offers to those who may not fit the mold they once did, or those who may feel lost. There’s even a prescription for those who know exactly who they are. It’s the celebration prescription. Take three daily, or as many as needed. And it’s ok to share them with those who they haven’t been prescribed for. Her prescriptions are sneaky like that. I know, I’ve been slipped a few in my morning email, and in my evening web crawls.

So who is this Rachelle Mee-Chapman? She’s a minister. Well, she was a minister. For 15 years—having practiced the religion for thirty. Somehow, at the end of that 15 year mark, she decided otherwise.  In her time of contemplation, she happened upon nesting Magpies that were not silent. She took a page from their book, and started her own quest to fly, to find as she says, her tribe.

An artist herself, she followed her passions for all things “sparkly” and her website, Magpie Girl which was all about crafts, soon morphed into a support system for the formerly “churched”, for those who were “relig-ish”, artists, and those on the fringe. But you don’t really have to be any of those. You just might be an open-minded curious type or one who had an inkling deep inside that they were alright as they were, but maybe needed it gently coaxed to the surface where it could be celebrated; those who needed their beaks filed a little bit, so they could  crack open their shells. Perhaps they are yogis, perhaps they’re nature lovers, or commercial Artists or artists of living. Perhaps they’re buttoned up dentists. 

Rachelle is the mother of two young daughters and with her husband, they Co-parent of one “full fledged adult.” She has  two “very silly' dogs. In order to get to know her a little more, to delve a little deeper into who this Magpie girl from  Seattle Washington is, I asked her a few questions, and she graciously obliged me with a few answers. Here are a few more facets, of the many faceted, Rachelle Mee-Chapman:

1.As the intention of your website has changed from Arts and Crafts and all
things Sparkly, to something seemingly different, what remains the common
thread as your focus is now people.

[Rachelle Mee-Chapman]

“When I was transitioning out of the pastorate, I started a personal blog
called Magpie Girl. My tagline was "distracted by sparkly things." I sold
vintage, I made zines and strung rosaries, and I told stories about the
process of stepping out of institutionalized faith while still being a very
spiritual person. I sank into art and beauty, and that helped me find my

I often say, "When faith failed me, art saved me." That's the connecting
thread from pastoring to sparkly things to life coaching in the area of
creative spirituality. The whole time I was seeking connection to the
divine. Art became the conduit for that, and following a trail of "sparkly
things" lead me to the work I do now.

Now the Magpie Girl blog has turned into a website for my coaching practice
with e-courses, an online community, and events. And soon be transitioning
again from Magpie Girl: Care for Creative Souls to Rachelle Mee-Chapman:
Care for Creative Souls (*your magpie girl.) “

2. What has surprised you the most about the flock that has emerged as
you've created this space for these creative souls to fly?

[Rachelle Mee-Chapman]

“When I opened the virtual doors to Flock, I thought we'd have to do a lot of
work together unpacking anger and hurt over things that happened in our past
church-based lives. And while I'm happy to support people in the grieving
and deconstructive process, I found that the women who came to Flock were
much more ready to move *forward* than I had expected. Also, they aren't all
"formerly churched." Some are still in the institution, and some don't have
any formal religious background. So it's much healthier, more proactive, and
diverse than I had initially expected. “

3. I have a wall hanging I created that says "Everyone wants to Paint. Be
ONE." Then in a little frame within it, I have collaged, "What's your
Medium?" Do you agree that everyone wants to "paint", and can you give me your take on why so many are hesitant to exercise their creativity?

[Rachelle Mee-Chapman]

“I haven't met a person yet who doesn't want to create. Even my very "I'm not
creative" husband creates craft cocktails and gets so much joy out of the
process of fiddling, refining, and presenting his art!
( My personal mythology includes the
passage, "In the beginning, God created..." So in my understanding we are
birthed out of creative energy, and that impulse to create continues within
in us.

People become hesitant to be creative largely because of commercialism and
perfectionism. We think the only reason to create something is to sell it.
And we think that the only reason to be creative is if you want to become a
great master of your craft. But creativity is something we do naturally as
children, without fear -- until we are exposed to these ideas through TV,
school, etc. Learning to see creativity as being purposeful just because it
brings joy, helps us express our self, or is intriguing to us, helps us make
the shift from creativity as profession to creativity as life.”

4. Who are you most inspired by?

[Rachelle Mee-Chapman]

“Vincent Van Gogh. I have a huge coffee-table book of his letters and
paintings. He was a minister starting out, and after a crisis of faith and
vocation found his way to art. I go through season where I'll read his
letters in the morning. I even have a little moleskin journal where I write
letters to my "Dear Vincent..." I even entertained the idea of writing a
book called "Letters to Vincent." But so far it's a personal practice and
I'm happy to keep it that way.”

5. In the Movie "Monument Men" a team Is assembled to save all of the great
works of art that Hitler would either have stolen or destroyed. Some died in
the quest. Do you feel that it's important to know anything about classical
art to create art of importance? Or is the personal experience of Now
knowledge enough?

[Rachelle Mee-Chapman]

“I do think that knowledge of different art forms expands your vocabulary. It
doesn't have to be classical art, but the more exposure one has to art and
artists, the richer your own work becomes. For instance, reality TV is
pretty low brow -- but Project Runway and So You Think You Can Dance have
been so meaningful to me! They've taught me so much about perfectionism and
the myth that we have to "be the best" and the tyranny of "only one can be
the winner." And watching the artists work and hearing how they came to
their art form is always very inspiring. SYTYCD in particular has immensely
expanded my dance vocabulary, and now I can enjoy so many different kinds of
dance in live performances. I couldn't have learned those lessons or gained
that language without being exposed art history and a variety of different
kinds of artists.

That being said, I do love art from the impressionist and post-impressionist
eras, and I'm learning more about abstract and modern art. I just went to a
Miro exhibit with a friend who is a sculptor and gained so much appreciation
for the complex and daring process. It helped me understand sculptures I've
seen in the past -- like the Rodin museum in Paris. And I appreciate the
modern public art pieces that are scattered around my city so much more now.
Much of my writing is peppered with examples and metaphors that came to me
in museums. I'm always scribbling in the blank edges of the exhibit

So That’s a small taste of Rachelle Mee-Chapman. If you’d like to know more, or feel what care for the creative soul feels like stop by Magpie girl, and see if your wings are there. They might be. Or you just might have them tucked halfway under your shirt, and need a little help unfolding them. Go see.