in Other Voices , 299 references
Once again I cast off the lines, start the engines, motor on out, set a spread and.... here come the fish courtesy of Ishmael! -- Ed
Tickerguy and I both recently wrote about how important principles are.
Anyone who lives to an honor code is a potential ally. Or a reasonable enemy, the kind you are almost sad to defeat. Once one of you wins, you're back to dealing with the usual scum.
Even if someone holds different values than you, their actions are predictable and consistent. These are critical for community cohesion. Not this claptrap some toxic gaslighter spewed, but being part of a well-functioning tribe.
Everyone lives their principles because they are expressed as actions. Talk is cheap, words do not matter in this case. Do not believe what somebody says, watch what he does.
When we say someone is immoral, it means we do not agree with their honor code, they absolutely have one! Two destructive principles are: telling others what they want to hear and doing anything to win (lying, murder, arson). Conmen do the former, criminals do the latter.
Once you realize values are actions and actions are values, it takes the mystery out of why career criminals behave the way they do. Their actions become predictable. It also stops the hand wringing surrounding rehabilitation versus punishment. They will act against you the instant you become inconvenient. When a criminal murders you, he is living to his “virtues”. This in no way excuses what he does, and in a just society he should be executed for the protection of others.
This partially explains why it is very hard to rehabilitate psychopaths. They see nothing wrong with their values.
If you do not like your current principles and reactions, change them! It’s the first step to becoming a person of good character and confidence. Live values you are proud of.
The rest of this guest Ticker is about values that build up you, family, friends, tribe, and society. There are many excellent virtues to incorporate into your personal honor code. Not everyone views all of them equally, nor should they! It only takes three or four to create an honor code.
What are your current ones, and what do you wish they were? What do you have to change so you no longer ask the second question?
Every virtue on this list makes you an asset to those around you. No matter what our honor code is, we often fall short. No one is perfect, and no one ever will be. Perfection is not required, only best effort.
Each one has a dark side when it’s applied in the wrong way, when virtue turns from something that helps into something that hinders. This isn’t to discourage anyone from living these, or to imply that one is greater than another. There is a very important reason, which I’ll explain at the end.
The following list is not exhaustive. Many of you are living principles not on this list. Keep it up, we need more like you!
Honesty: There is such a thing as too much honesty. When your wife asks if a dress makes her look fat, it is absolutely a trap. There is no way to get out of that gracefully. It doesn’t matter if she’s a supermodel, there’s something she doesn’t like about her body. The best answer is, “I always think you look beautiful!” It doesn’t violate honesty and scores brownie points.
Too much honesty makes you a jerk. Taken to its logical extreme, it produces some of the most soul crushing statements on the planet. An example is, “No honey, your butt and back rolls make you look fat. The dress is nice.”
Loyalty: The best example of when loyalty is bad is following a bad leader off a cliff. No one is under obligation to follow anyone who does not act in good faith, or does not have others' best interests at heart.
Courage: Not every hill is worth dying on. Some are Mount Everest and others are tiny garden anthills better stepped over. Don’t waste this rare virtue on them. Another example is rushing into a dangerous situation without thinking through the consequences when you have time. This might be a physical situation, or running your mouth to the wrong people. Choose your battles carefully. There is another phase of clown wars coming soon and courage will get a workout.
Perseverance: Perseverance gets it done. It may involve putting in longer hours than you’d like, going above and beyond a job description, or exercising very hard to accomplish a fitness goal. Self-destruction is a danger with perseverance. Don’t neglect yourself. True self-care is not self-indulgence. Getting sleep and managing burnout are self-care. Eating a pint of ice cream is self-indulgence. Recovery days during training season are not slacking, muscles build during rest. Attending to your well-being is a vital part of having the energy to push through hard times.
Compassion: This virtue is in short supply after the past three years. The Karens demonstrated a complete lack of it with their jackbooted approach to mandates, and the purebloods are exhausted. The world needs compassion now more than ever. The dark side is enabling. Compassion means helping others help themselves. Enabling makes the doer feel good at the expense of destroying another. It’s not compassionate to give someone drinking themselves to death their last bottle of booze.
Work ethic: There’s enough lazy parasites in America right now. What’s wrong with working hard? What happens when you’re working for a cock sucking, dishonest boss? They reap the benefits of your virtue at the expense of society. You might also be violating some of your other principles. Work hard for those who share your values, they deserve it.
Authenticity: When I asked people what this one meant to them, the short answer was always “being themselves.” The round-hole world always attempts to shave edges off the square pigs so they’ll fit in. Those square pegs build companies and countries. Authenticity is a rare and valuable trait. There is significant danger when somebody who doesn’t have a solid sense of self adopts it. They express it by morphing into whatever another person wants them to be or constantly changing their social media bling to The Current Thing. The most extreme cases are duped into the trans movement. They consider someone they can never be their “authentic self.” The long-term consequences are chilling.
Humility: There is enough arrogance in the world, being around people who are gracious, appreciative, and humble about their gifts is refreshing. These gentle souls will always let others shine. If you are one of them, don’t be a doormat and hide your light under a bushel basket.
Intellectual curiosity: Some people have to be the smartest person in the room. At some point, no one cares what they have to say. Knowledge is only useful when those who hear it and apply it. Wearing out an audience with endless one upmanship means they tune out good information when they need it.
Self-awareness: Self-improvement is a lifelong task. Whether it is learning a new skill, or improving some psychological aspect, self-awareness is vital to progress. The downside is too much introspection. Don’t waste years navelgazing instead of acting.
Mutual respect in relationships: Respect is crucial in any relationship. Do not waste time on those who will never reciprocate and violate your values.
Gratitude: The world is so dank right now, we are surrounded by so much doom porn, it’s easy to forget there is still plenty of good too. Taking a moment to acknowledge goodness and joy is vital for the soul. However, looking for the silver lining instead of seeing a situation for what it is mires grateful people in muck and prevents them from completing their goals.
Integrity: Integrity is adhering to a code of tribe building behavior. If you like your principles, and live them, you have integrity. The danger is living values you don’t like and destroy the very thing you attempt to create.
Truth: I am the way and the truth and the life (Jesus Christ in John 14:6). Whether someone follows Jesus, or seeks the Truth in different ways they embark on a path whose end they will never reach. One danger is purity spiraling, or getting hung up on the goal instead of the journey.
Wisdom: We never know what we don’t know. The quest for wisdom is a journey, not a destination.
Peace: Blessed are the peacemakers (Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:9). A gross miss application is siding with the loudest person in the room just so the fighting stops. When this happens, the innocent are trampled underfoot, the exact opposite of peace.
Beauty: Clown world is ugly. Walmart, Target, chain restaurants, and the ultimate basic business: Starbucks. Any town in America looks the same with its endless interchangeable beige buildings. Injecting color, vibrancy, personality, and life into the landscape is a valiant goal. The dark side of this is being superficial and surrounding yourself only with pretty people. Beauty is skin deep, but ugly personalities go to the bone.
Why did I take the time to examine each principle? Within the past year I deliberately chose three and began living them. Almost instantly, life became a living hell because drifting along was no longer an option. No more slacking off at the slightest difficulty. No more running away from problems. No more lying to anyone, most of all myself.
Why was I miserable? What went wrong? Had I chosen poorly? Was I doing it wrong? In some cases yes, which inspired today’s missive. But there was something else.
I have often been told over the years -- long before I began writing a column here -- that if I'd just change my tone more people would listen. Well, perhaps they would. But perhaps I don't care; from my point of view presenting my view of an issue as I see it is far more-important than whether you like how or what was presented.
Tickerguy’s recent post reiterated the fact that people cajoled him for decades because he lives his principles. “Change the way you say things, you’ll get more of an audience.” No, what they’re asking is for him to violate his honor code for their comfort.
Remember the living hell? Much of it was from putting in hard work to change. But almost instantly, other people expected me to violate principles for their benefit. I refused. That too was difficult the first few times it happened. It took a psychological toll.
Then those people left my life. The coof wars left me with very small social circles, living principles shrunk them further. I’m now in the process of rebuilding better relationships.
Not every day is rainbows and sunshine.
No matter how dark the day or when I questioned if it was worth it, there was always one bright spot. It turned out to be a light at the end of the tunnel instead of a train: No more waking up in the middle of the night agonizing over honor code violations. Because when it was time to make a choice, I didn’t take the easy way out, but principled action.
Maybe you have already been through this process of winnowing down old friendships and making new ones. Maybe you don’t like your principles and are ready to change them. Those who walk the difficult path ahead of us inspire and help, and we in turn to those who follow.
Exploring the downsides of virtues is important because change is always hard and it’s easy to quit when pain begins. Are you frustrated because clown world pushes back, or because you have found the dark sides of your principles? Keep fighting clown world, it’s worth it. May you meet honorable and virtuous people wherever you go.