Beneficence: The Good That You Can Do

In recent posts, I wrote of the first rule of medicine – and what ought to be a guiding principle for all of us: above all else, do no harm. Although we don’t intend to hurt others, we do so inadvertently. We must be mindful to minimize the harm.

But the reason I am a physician is to do good: beneficence – the other great principle of medical ethics.

In your personal code of ethics, what are the key principles? What are your greatest goals? What guides you in your relationships and how you choose to live each day?

Imagine what our world would be like if we all chose beneficence as a guiding principle.

Of course, most people seek to do good . . . but for themselves not others.

We can spend most of our time shopping, playing games, eating and entertaining ourselves. We may choose a course of study or work just to get ahead and make a living.

Some people even see their relationships for their own benefit. To them friends are people that do things for them or make them feel good. Others are means to their own ends.

But if we each just looked after ourselves and getting ahead is the goal of our lives, we will all lose out at the end because each of us will die some day and all that we may have gained will be lost.

If instead our guiding principle of life was to maximize the good we do for others, the benefits will spread beyond our individual lives and maybe beyond our own lifetimes. We will find gratification and fulfillment in sharing what we have, using our own talents and resources to help others in need, creating works that will benefit many, and collaborating with others to make our world safer, healthier and happier.

What is the measure of your days? How do you judge the value of each day?

Why not by the good you have done for others?

Consider this day: how much good can you do in one day?


About Davidicus Wong

I am a family physician. I write a weekly newspaper column, Healthwise for the Vancouver Courier, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News.
This entry was posted in Compassion, Happiness, Medical Ethics, Purpose, Relationships, Your Calling, Your Goals and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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