Then Show Me Something Better: Embracing Harm Reduction as a Guiding Principle


One of the most common responses I’ve heard from Jehovah’s Witnesses, including my own father, when faced with the debunking of their beliefs is something along the lines of, “Well, it may not be perfect, but it’s still the best available.” This sentiment is often expressed after acknowledging the imperfections within the organization, but still holding on to the belief that it is the best option out there. In this blog post, we will explore how we can address this feeling by embracing harm reduction as a guiding principle, and how it can help us break down walls and overcome obstacles in our lives.

During my time in pioneer school at the Watchtower Educational Center in Patterson, New York, I remember our instructor emphasizing the importance of finding the principle behind the rules, claiming that understanding these principles could lead to personal freedom. One such principle that stood out was preventing harm. While it may not always be possible to completely avoid harm, adopting harm reduction as a guiding principle can provide a valuable framework for decision-making in various aspects of life.

Harm Reduction: A Guiding Principle

  1. Personal choices: Adopting harm reduction as a guiding principle can help individuals make more conscious and thoughtful choices in their personal lives. This could involve considering the potential consequences of their actions on themselves and others, and seeking to minimize any negative impact.
  2. Relationships: In our relationships with others, embracing harm reduction can promote empathy, understanding, and compassion. By prioritizing the well-being of others and striving to reduce any potential harm, we can build stronger, more supportive connections with those around us.
  3. Community involvement: When engaging with our communities, whether through volunteering or advocacy work, the principle of harm reduction can help guide our efforts to create meaningful change. By focusing on reducing harm for marginalized or vulnerable populations, we can work towards building a more inclusive and equitable society.
  4. Environmental stewardship: Harm reduction can also be applied to our relationship with the environment. By considering the impact of our actions on the planet and striving to reduce our ecological footprint, we can contribute to a more sustainable future for ourselves and generations to come.

The Freedom in Understanding Principles

Understanding and applying the principle of harm reduction in various aspects of our lives can indeed bring about a sense of freedom. By focusing on the underlying principles behind rules and regulations, we can move beyond dogmatic thinking and embrace a more flexible and adaptable approach to life. This shift in mindset can lead to personal growth, stronger relationships, and a more profound sense of purpose.


Embracing harm reduction as a guiding principle allows us to navigate the complexities of life with greater clarity and purpose. By focusing on reducing harm and prioritizing the well-being of ourselves, others, and the environment, we can foster personal growth and contribute to the betterment of the world around us. By seeking to understand the principles behind the rules, we can break free from dogmatic thinking and experience the freedom that comes from living a more conscious and intentional life. In doing so, we can show ourselves and others that there is indeed something better out there.

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