The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Whatever Gets You Through The Night

We all develop a philosophy that helps us understand, or a least cope most of the time, with the highs and lows of life. Some of us simply accept a philosophy handed down by our parents, others seek out their own. Some are religious in nature (most, I suspect) while others are considered entirely secular in nature.

My own philosophy is, as you might guess, primarily secular but based on various religious concepts and ideals. Religions have certain tenets which I consider important to any civilized society and which I think are useful for personal interaction with others.

I would like to give you the four blocks that make up the foundation of my personal philosophy. I won't go into any great detail nor will I flesh out the rest of the philosophy which they support. A blog is insufficient for such things. It would take many weeks to explain and bore you all to tears.

Before I go further, I should point out that I do not always live up to my personal philosophy. Accordingly, I do not expect anyone else to do so. No one is perfect, after all. But we should all at least try to adhere to our ideals as much as possible.

The first block is that basic principle of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", for example, is a great core value. It is not only a basic tenet of Christian belief but also of most religions and philosophies. It makes sense. Its foundation is that your behavior affects the behavior of others. And, even if it does not, you have taken the "high road". But psychological studies have shown that personal behavior does affect those one interacts with. We see it in the adage of "set a good example", we know that children (eventually) emulate their parents, and we gravitate toward people who treat us as we wish to be treated. So, I try to live by this tenet. I use it as the cornerstone for my personal philosophy.

The next important block of my philosophy is honesty. This is the hardest part to adhere to. As we go through life, we quickly learn that complete honesty is not only impossible but probably undesirable. We don't always want to be told the truth and we don't always want to tell the truth. We want our feelings or others' feelings to be considered first. Therefore, those "little white lies" come in handy. However, we do desire that in matters of business that honesty be at the core of any dealings. At least on the part of those selling us products. The hard part comes in our actions as consumers. And, like everyone else, I find it difficult to live up to my ideal of personal honesty. Still, I try. I return change when it has been miscalculated in my favor. I do not lie on credit applications. I do not "fudge" on my income reporting.

The third block of my philosophy has to do with integrity. It is related to honesty and, indeed, requires it. Without honesty, integrity cannot exist. Integrity can be summed up in a simple phrase: Doing the right thing when no one is looking.

The fourth block is cynicism. This one can cause me a lot of problems, it saves me from eventual disappointment by expecting it from the onset. In a way, it prevents me from becoming too full of myself because, done right, it must also be applied to one's self.

As I said, I do not always live up to my philosophy. I recognize that I cannot but that I can strive to. I also realize that I may rationalize, or try to, those times I fail to live up to it. Being aware of those rationalizations is one step toward living up to the ideals I have set for myself.

Whatever your personal philosophy is, it should be more important to you that you strive to live up it than whether others know you do or live up to theirs.



Michael said...

I frequently think about my own principles, but then, there's always a part of me that thinks that maybe life should be lived more simply, and that so much thinking is perhaps unnecessary.


Douglas said...

Michael, that is a philosophy to embrace. Life can be simple. I just received an email from someone who passed on a column by a man named Walter Mills. The column runs under the title "At The Middle Passage". It's a regular column somewhere but I do not know where. Interestingly, though, it addressed this very subject of a simple life as a key to being happy. Most of his columns that I have read express that philosophy. I tend to agree; live as simply as you can and life will be as serene as you make it. There is a poem that was quite popular a few decades ago when the US (and, it seemed, much of the world) was going a bit insane. It is called "Desiderata". You can find it here:

Michael said...

I frequently think about my own principles, but then, there's always a part of me that thinks that maybe life should be lived more simply, and that so much thinking is perhaps unnecessary.