I've been a bit absent here lately and the only excuse I can offer is that I have been busy. As I have said numerous times before, the paying job must come first. Things in that arena are starting to balance out again so, hopefully, I will have more time to pay attention to this one in a manner I would prefer.
I have noticed from my comments and emails that I am gaining readers here that I did not have before (another reason I would like to be able to pay more attention to this project) and so I thought I would take some time to give a little more insight into me and how I think. I have an entire series if posts that I have planned to do in that regard but, of course, they require time to do them properly. The posts I do on a regular basis do give a good amount of insight but they can also give an unbalanced view if one does not fully understand the context. For example, the sheer number of anti-Left or anti-liberal (whichever you prefer - I have stated my preference many times) posts I make might confuse someone who does not know better into believing that I align myself with the Right or with conservative thinking. Nothing could be further from the truth. While I can be very conservative in some areas, I am also very progressive in other areas. My personal litmus test is not conservative versus liberal but rather what works and does not work in the context of conforming to reality and living a good and free life. I am neither Republican nor Democrat and, in truth, I have no use whatsoever for either party.
To improve the readers' understanding of this writer's point of view, I have put together a list of the iron-clad rules by which I run my own life. I have jokingly referred to them as The 10 Commandments of Me but that is mostly for the artistic purpose of having a catchy headline. In truth, there is a lot of overlap in this list and I had to sit down with a pen and paper to actually think out the separate entires in the list because I do not consciously think of all of them in this way. Still, they are all rules that are very important to me and that I put a great deal of effort into never breaking.
Due to my desire to not put you, the reader, through book-length entries in any one post, I will give only a short description of each rule here. I will expand on these rules as I feel the need (and have the time) in later posts. Of course, and as always, if there is any confusion, just leave a comment stating so and that will certainly point me in a direction of where clarification is necessary.
And now, the list.
1. Mind Your Own Business
I cannot state emphatically enough how intentional it is that I list this rule first. I firmly believe that most of my problems with politics and society at large would vanish if more people lived by this ideal. You have no business trying to control someone else's life if what they are doing or not doing cannot cause harm to you or yours. It just doesn't make sense. This isn't to say that you should require only direct affects before you become involved, but logical extensions should be necessary. If someone in Mississippi were stalking and assaulting bloggers it would have no direct affect on me because I am not in Mississippi, but I can certainly (and logically) decide that not speaking against such behavior would set a precedent that could have disastrous results for me. Yes, such a nuanced understanding of this rule requires some complex thought, but isn't complex thought supposed to be one of those things that defines being human?
2. Be Responsible
Most people will only see the negative statement of the first rule - stay out if it doesn't involve you - but there is a positive statement as well: if it does involve you, you have a moral obligation to do something about it. Know your responsibilities and fulfill them. Of course, if more people lived by this rule, they wouldn't have time to break the first one.
3. Do What Must Be Done
Most people don't like going to work, but we prefer it to the alternative of being homeless and starving. If something has to be done, then do it. Don't equivocate; don't sit around waiting for someone else to do it; and certainly don't pontificate on the right or wrong of it. If it actually must be done then it must be right to do it. Of course, this requires that complex thought again in order to truly define "must" but, welcome to being human.
4. Do Not Fake Reality
You will never accomplish any of the complex thoughts required by these rules if you make a habit of pretending that reality is something other than what it is. Reality will not conform to your whims or desires. It will go on being reality and steamroller right over your best (or worst) intentions if you try to behave otherwise.
5. Words Have Meaning
I have used this phrase often enough that I thought it would be counterproductive to reword the phrase to make it a command. The command is implied in the statement. If words have meaning then you must know what they mean and mean what you say. The purpose of language is to reveal and clarify, not to obfuscate and distort. If you use words in a false or misleading manner then you are either faking reality or trying to get someone else to fake reality. The end result is the same either way: things get worse instead of better because reality wins every time.
6. Learn From Mistakes
No one is perfect. This is a true statement but it is also the most over-used excuse in the human bag of tricks. You are going to make mistakes but if you keep making the same mistake over and over again, it is no longer a mistake. It then becomes intentional behavior and quite possibly a sign of insanity (repeating the same behavior expecting different results is a clinical definition of insanity). Learn from your mistakes and try to not make the same mistake twice. That is how you get better.
7. Do Not Reward Failure
I am stating this one in the negative because most of us grasp the positive. We understand that it is a good thing to hand out gold stars to those who do well. What we do not seem to understand, however, is that handing out gold stars to those who do poorly just encourages them to not correct their mistakes. There is a place for both positive and negative reinforcement and we would do well to remember that.
8. Make No Demands You Have Not Earned
We have become an entitlement society. We vilify the person who demands what he has earned and pity the person who demands what has not been earned. How does this make sense?
9. Treat Others As They Deserve
I'm not quite nice enough to use the tired old "treat others as you want to be treated". I believe that the old adage is a great starting point, but it is not always a great ending point. I try my best to do my best and want (even expect) to be treated accordingly. If, however, I treat every person I meet as though he or she is doing the same then I am, in fact, often rewarding failure. There are far too many people out there who do not make the effort and do not deserve to be treated as though they were. If you want to be treated well, though, it is usually a good idea to err on the side of treating well. Remember that you do not know everything and it is often easier to correct a positive mistake than to correct a negative mistake.
10. Live Your Life!!
You might notice that this is the only rule I bothered to punctuate. It is your life to live, not your neighbor's, not your father's, not the city council's, etc. If you are not living your life then what are you accomplishing? The rest of this list becomes pretty useless without this final statement.
I realize that many of these descriptions are pretty vague but I hope I have at least gotten the basic point across. And, as I said at the beginning, I am certainly willing to clarify where necessary. This list isn't perfect by any means, but it gives you an idea of what is important to me and that gives you an idea of where I am coming from when I write what I write. The point of language is to reveal and clarify, so I occasionally step out of my normal commenting structure in an attempt to do just that. Expect more clarifications as we move forward.