Manifesto of Good Practical Wisdom
(Extract from my paperback book, Raw Beginnings: An Omnibus)
Look around today and you find many people without a clear vision of life. They are easy to spot, whether on a commuter train, at the shopping mall, the local watering hole, or just walking down the street. Most of these people might believe with all their heart that they have a vision for themselves, but if you press them on the issue, what they really have is someone else's vision, be it a minister, politician, best friend, or whatever fashionable ideology that's making the circuit today.
In the summer of 1994, I was one of these people. But certain things happened that year in my small and safe world which forced me to wake-up and smell the coffee. I spent the next two years re-evaluating my entire life, and questioning absolutely everything I was taught and believed to be true. Some ideas were thrown out as the mental garbage they were, while others were kept but refined or adjusted. By the end of this emotionally anguished and turbulent period, I felt clean inside and walked like a new man.
I was feeling so much like a clean and refurbished human being that I decided to sit down and start writing a personal vision statement, less I forget the process I had just gone through, and not fall into a future trap of becoming a true believer all over again. Writing this statement, after many false starts, took me almost a year to complete. I always have this vision statement close by, to remind myself what I was and where I came from. Whenever I find myself troubled about some great moral issue of the day, I pull out the statement and read it over again and again.
A personal manifesto or vision to live by is not necessarily a finished product that has already been implemented in one's life. It is generally an idealistic goal to achieve, something to strive for, something to make one's daily life worth living, something to give hope, and something to base one's dreams upon. It is something that needs to be sought after on a daily basis and sometimes has to be won and re-won each and each and every moment. After this being said my personal manifesto is as follows:
My personal philosophy of life is a system of convictions and practices offering a pragmatic skepticism as a method of inquiry, evolutionary Darwinism as a cosmic world view, naturalistic morality as a life ethic, and democratic pluralism as a social polity. It is an integrative approach to living life to the fullest, leading to happiness, peace of mind, and a feeling of oneness with nature.
One of the greatest lessons I've learned in life is that a person needs a vision, something larger than themselves, or else they become like a rudderless boat on the stormy seas. If one is to live life with any sense of meaningfulness, honor, and integrity, they must not only have the courage to be, but the courage to become in spite of it all.
And so my vision is this: to live life as an unceasing meditation on a vision that is both personal and social. The personal aspect is this: devotion to the principle of universal respect, caring for what is noble, for what is beautiful, for what is gentle; to allow moments of insight to give wisdom at more mundane times.
The social aspect is this: to constantly visualize and sustain in my imagination the society that needs to be created. A society where we grow freely and in cooperation with the planet's ecosystem with reverent respect. A society where the values of democratic pluralism, separation of church & state, and the right to privacy are held in highest esteem by all. A society where people have access to the five necessities of life, which are - good healthy food & clean water, fair and just work, warm and safe housing, affordable health care, and time for an avocation.
My primary position on social action is one of total activism, an unswerving commitment to complete self and world transformation. These things I ardently believe, and the world, despite all of its horrors, leaves me unshaken.