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My own ten commandments (more or less)

This started out as a list of ten general principles for me to live by. I wound up adding a few more. What’s so great about the number ten anyway?

  1. Seek truth — do not deceive anyone, most importantly yourself.
  2. Seek love — love means caring for, nurturing, and seeking good for people. Love yourself, love your family and friends, love all of humanity, love all creatures, love the planet.
  3. Respect the property of others. Property means their material possessions, as well as their bodies and their minds. Do not cause harm or deprive them of the use of any of these things.
  4. Tolerate all ideas but intolerance. To tolerate means to allow their expression — it does not mean that all ideas are worthy of fruition.
  5. Respect and protect the freedom of all people to live their lives in whatever manner they see fit, to the extent that their doing so does not limit the ability of others to do the same.
  6. No one has the right to take the life of another, except to protect others from the immediate threat of losing their own life.
  7. Sex is one of the most basic human forms of personal expression and no one has the right to dictate how, when, or with whom any consenting adult practices it.
  8. No adult human’s individual rights should ever be limited to less than those enjoyed by the general population, except where they are being punished/rehabilitated.
  9. Be skeptical but not cynical. A skeptic demands evidence; a cynic is never satisfied with the evidence. Seek to build, not to destroy.
  10. Understand that no one is completely good or completely evil. People should be judged on what they do, not who they are or who we perceive them to be. Judging people is not a bad thing, as long as it is done fairly.
  11. Savor the small things in life for greatest happiness!
  12. Recognize that you are the mind of the cosmos. As far as we know, humans are the only entities ever to emerge with the capability to ponder the cosmos. When you gaze at a tree, a bird, a mountain, or a galaxy, you are in a sense, self-reflecting.
  13. Don’t trust your gut. Intuition is fine for what it evolved for — making snap decisions about trivial matters (I feel like Chinese for lunch) or for when there is no time for rational reflection (“should I or should I not turn and run from this lion?”) But for life’s big decisions, nothing beats empirical data and the scientific method.
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