Ethic Principles by Which I Live

Existing in our modern world of fast past technology, instant overseas
communication, and increasingly integrated modes of thought and belief systems, it is
difficult not to embrace an attitude of Universalism.  Whether universalism in and of
itself is a principle by which I live, or the source that I derive the rest of my most
important principles from is unclear. I do know, however, that nothing I live by or believe
in contradicts the idea that there is a streak of truth to all of the things that people believe
in and that relative to everyones own individual experiences and ideas is a way of life
that I can respect if not understand.

Having said that, I suppose my first and foremost principle with regards to social
interaction is tolerance. Derived from the golden rule of do unto others as you would
have them do unto you, I think it is vital that we demonstrate a general good will
towards others, and especially others who are different from us. Intolerance, on the
flipside, is often the end product of fear of the unknown.  That fear often turns into a
defensive aggression and that is where anything from vocalized distaste of others to hate
crimes come from.  More likely than not, there will be situations in our lives where we
will not be completely understood by others, and may very definitely not be part of the
mainstream.  While our temporarily being out of place might not be due to a grave
distinction of ourselves from others, we would still want to be treated with kindness,
respect, and understanding all the same.  So, likewise, if these are the things that we
expect for ourselves, than these are the things that we should grant others.  Further
reflecting on this concept, it is not the rule in and of itself, I suppose, that appeals to me,
but rather the rationale behind it if I do you no harm, you are less likely to harm me.

Moreover, the concept of tolerance falls neatly in line with the teachings of kindness,
hospitality, equality and strength in diversity that stem from the religious and political
history of Western society. Needless to say, we are all susceptible to socialization and so
the origin of my personal emphasis on tolerance is multi-faceted.

Second is a principle that stems from the first and resembles a great deal the
Wiccan concept of do what thy will and harm none.  Because I believe both on
moral principle and pragmatic self preservation that I should do no harm to others, I
uphold the idea of limiting my own freedom to that which does not disturb the freedom of
others.  An ideal instilled in by my father, I believe that everyones personal freedoms are
like bubbles, if an outside force comes into contact with that bubble (infringes on that
persons freedoms) that persons bubble of freedom will pop, thereby doing harm onto
them.  The other face to that coin is that I believe that no other thing should limit my
freedom that doesnt coincide with what I believe to be best for myself and what I want
out of life.

Although Ive held this ideal long before I came along the Wiccan teaching that
put it into a concise sentence for me, I did not adopt it simply because it was included
into my upbringing.  While it is true that the foundations of our outlooks on life is
ingrained in us during the early years of our upbringing, the older and more intellectually
developed that we get the more we end up concluding things for ourselves.  So though I
am not a Wiccan nor do I believe in any of the other major Wiccan teachings that I know
of, I have concluded that harming others is both morally and pragmatically wrong and
that I value my freedoms highly. Do what thy will and harm none, is a way of
reconciling those two concepts.

Apart from tolerance and having other peoples freedoms be the only limit to my
own freedom, I also uphold the principle of self preservation.  Though self preservation is
scripted into our very biological makeup, it has been looked down upon because of the
cowardly connotation that has been historically associated with it.  Coupled with the idea
of not harming anyone else at any expense,( including the expense of ones freedom to
preserve self and self interest), the idea of self preservation can lose its negative
connotation and take on a more pragmatic, if not positive, meaning.  In fact, a number of
generally favored moral concepts can fall under the umbrella of self preservation.  For
example, I can decide to not ever lie out of self preservation in the same vein that I can
choose to tell a lie to preserve myself.  Extending self preservation to mean more than
just physical preservation, I can choose never to lie on the basis that lies are almost
always unfounded and may cause complications for me in the future.  Likewise, I could
also lie to avoid an immediate complication.  Through my own personal experience,
however, I know that avoiding eventual complications is more important than side
stepping an immediate complication that may return andor multiple in the future.  So in
this sense, my own tendency to preserve self has caused me to abide by honesty, which is
a commonly accepted social virtue.

Also, I can choose not to steal, kill, or bribe because out of my own need to
preserve my self, I will want to avoid going to prison (or paying other consequences)
even though I may believe that it is in my immediate interest to have what someone else
has, to unlawfully get someone to do what I want them to do, or even to end someone
elses life.

Again, the idea of avoiding an immediate complication at the expense of a future and
possibly larger complication rationally allows me not to do things that are socially
frowned upon and morally unaccepted because of my need to preserve self.  I would like
to claim that this principle was acquired purely by rational endeavors, but self
preservation is such a part of human nature (the reasons why we eat, breathe, and sleep),
as well as an understood concept in society that I would have to say that this principle
was acquired primarily through nature as well as a degree of socialization and rational

Another, more self serving principle that I try my best to live by is that of
contentment.  In our world of mass consumption and ever new produce, it is difficult to
be content with what one has since we are continuously and exponentially encouraged to
go out and buy more.  But being content with ones self and life does not have to be
limited to being content with our material possessions.  In fact, being completely content
with our material possessions would hinder our tendency towards hard work and
monetary accomplishment.  While it can be argued that work can never be equal to the
dollar sign we put on it, our present culture suggests that the greater the dollar sign
attached to our contribution to society, the better.  So, when I say that I uphold the ideal
of contentment, I mean contentment with ones self.  Sure, if you know that you can
make more money doing something else that you are equally good at and hence boost
your material possessions (possibly indicating a higher standard of living), why not
However, I do believe that we should be content in the idea that we do the best that we
can do and that our best effort, is just that.

If my best effort with regards to my capability is only earning me 30,000 a year, I
should be content with the idea that Ive put my best forward.  If people were more
content, for example, with the way they looked, low self esteem wouldnt be such a major
problem amongst individuals in our country.  The issue with contentment, however, is
that people have a tendency to draw on outside sources to make them feel complete and
even happy.  If people allowed themselves to individually be content with the things in
their lives based on the idea that theyve done the best that they can and that things are at
the best that circumstances will allow, then more and more people could enjoy peace of
mind. So in the notion to grant myself peace of mind I try to be as content as possible
with the way things are going in my life.

My last principle for the scope of this paper, and possibly the most important
principle by which I live is that of regarding life in its entirety as a continuous lesson.  I
believe it was Socrates who said something to the effect of the wisest of men being he
who acknowledged that he knew nothing.  My life, as Im sure everyones is, has been an
accumulation of experiences and education from which Ive learned everything that I
know now.  In light of that learning process I have come to know that everyday contains
a new thought, emotion, or idea that I was previously ignorant to.  Not only is the human
learning process continuous because of the unlimited amount of potential knowledge
floating around in the universe, but because everything we know exists in a fluctuating
state.  What maybe true for me today, may not be true for me tomorrow.

I may think, one day, that all thieves steal out of necessity, until I meet a thief who steals
simply because he or she can and my understanding of that concept changes.  In this
manner, everything that I believe this year maybe very different from the things that I
believe five years from now.  It is an outlook that helps me keep an open mind and an
open heart when dealing with others whose experiences have shaped their consciousness
differently from mine.


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