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


  1. I'd like to share the Link to my Brothers Flippin Pennies essay

    It's worth reading and you'll be glad you did...

    “See a Penny…pick it up…
    and if the penny is heads up…
    all the day you shall have luck.”

    In memory of my Brother, Please leave a penny or Flip a Penny and Pay it Forward.
    and please: Do No harm

    1. thank you for sharing and for keeping his mission moving, George. He made a difference.