Foundational Values: Personal

My Chosen Purpose

  • My primary purpose is joy.
  • My secondary purpose is pursuit of knowledge.

My Chosen Faith

  • I choose faith in free will, in my ability to transcend those forces that limit me.

My Chosen Community

  • I choose faith in humanity.
  • I choose faith in the equality of individuals
  • I choose faith in human rights which exist prior to and apart from communal law.
  • I choose faith in democratic pluralism.

Joy

I choose joy as the primary purpose of my life. I specifically choose the word joy instead of other similar words such as happiness. In my usage of joy, I mean something more enduring than simple pleasure.

My Definition of Joy: An enduring sense of contentment, measured not in each moment, but as a dynamic summation of experience. The constituent parts of joy include instances of happiness, sorrow, pleasure and pain, boredom, excitement, leisure and work. Joy is the result of life well-lived, adjusted by experience to achieve a net-positive sentiment. It is an expression of my desire.

Knowledge

As joy is the pleasure of my purpose, then knowledge is analogous to the work of my purpose. It is through knowledge that I better know my self and my environment, and thereby obtain greater joy.

Knowledge of the world and of self is both discovery and creation. We exist within but are also creating our self and our environment.

Knowledge degrades as time passes and change occurs. Yesterday’s knowledge is less applicable today simply due to a change in circumstances and the acquisition of new experience, new knowledge.

Free Will

We exist in a context of forces which shape and influence us. From the physical universe and biology to the world of ideas, laws and community relationships. These forces have overwhelming influence, and many conclude that our actions are simply determined by these forces.

I respectfully acknowledge these forces, aware of their power over my life. These forces have directed me without regard to my consent.

My faith, however, is that as a creative agent of the Universe, I am able to exalt small instances of free will to great affect. If 99.99% of my existence is determined through force, I seek after and amplify that .01% of possibility.

This pursuit of free will is foundational to my understanding of joy; for only in the directional fulfillment of my desire can enduring joy be found.

Community

Our language and our stories often speak of individuals and communities as similar things. We cast them as friends or enemies, granting power to one or diminishing the power of the other. We frequently anthropomorphize communities, giving them power of thought and action, feeling and emotion.

Beyond metaphor, this is an error.

Ontologically, an individual being and a community are different classes of things. Individuals exist as autonomous beings, while communities are an abstraction of individuals. Community cannot think or feel. Community cannot act. All thought, all action is that of individuals.

Community exists as a tool to serve the needs and desires of individuals.

When I speak of my faith in humanity, I am referring to my belief in the ability of humanity to further the needs and desires of humanity. But, the term humanity should not be confused as action independent of individuals. Humanity (or community) is shorthand for 2 or more individuals.

Equality & Human Rights

A simple survey of the status of human rights suggests that we are no where near recognizing all individuals as fundamentally equal. Inequality is systemic, even in the best of communal governing structures.

Thomas Jefferson, when he penned the Declaration of Independence suggested that it is self-evident that all [persons] are created equal. I am undecided on the strength of that argument, but recognize and choose to faithfully accept the premise.

I choose to accept that human rights and equality are foundational to my understanding of individuals. That I have no more inherent right to life and its constituent parts than does another human.

This faith, which grants to others rights which I might selfishly reserve, is born out of a love that I feel for my own children, for friends. It is a recognition that my joy is inextricably linked to the joy of others. It is also a recognition that a denial of these rights to others can become a denial of these rights to me.

Democratic Pluralism

To this end, it is my faith and experience that democratic pluralism is the most productive form of communal governance, most likely to safeguard basic human rights.

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  • Robert Cruickshank
  • http://www.facebook.com/timothyk Timothy

    Robert…looks like an interesting article with some relevant ideas. I’ll read, process and respond. Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/timothyk Timothy

    Robert, nice article. I am hopeful that he’s right, that we’re entering a revolution of lifestyle choice. Abundance has brought us so many choices that I think we are struggling to understand that, as time is limited, so must our choices be limited. It’s so easy to “own” too many things, by which I mean not only physical goods, but anything that takes our time away from that which we value most.

    At the beginning of the article, he states that it’s hard to define a good life; I think it’s easier than we allow. I’ve recently been reading Sam Harris’ book “The Moral Landscape” (http://www.amazon.com/Moral-Landscape-Science-Determine-Values/dp/1439171211) where he tackles a bit of how science might help us to begin to measure such things. Additionally, there’s a section early in George Lakoff’s “Moral Politics” that begins a workable outline on this as well.

    Personally, I agree that this is the true challenge: defining our own lives independent of the consumerist mindset that we exist in, and then helping the world transition to a more sane approach to such a life.