I have been thinking about the world and our place in it. I have been thinking about who we are and who we want to be. I have been considering what is most important. Who is it we look up to most? Who do we respect? Who do we miss most? Who changes our lives in the most significant way? Of course, there is no simple answer to this. I think the answer is that we look up to those who display the qualities we like about ourselves and want for ourselves. I think back at all the people who have been in my life. Some have been funny, some clever, fast, strong, charismatic or confident. A lucky few had all of these. What I remember most clearly are the kind people. The most important people were always those who were kind and who felt that their kindness was nothing special. The caring ones.
After years of philosophy I just can't help trying to put this idea and those like it onto a firm logical basis. My idea for doing this is to try to define goodness by three things. Simplicity, symmetry and survival. To put this another way, we call an action good if it satisfies the following three ideas:
To be clear on what I mean by unwarranted exception I'll begin with an example. It's a demonstrable requirement that only women can give birth. It's natural and required for survival of the species that women give birth. This idea does not apply to men and it cannot. On the other hand, to say that women are not included when we should work is unwarranted because there is no biological reason here that necessitates it.
Now that the basis is set up I would like to present an example. It will sound extreme but that's part of the point. Suppose kindness is removed. By simplicity we cease doing things unless we get something for it. By symmetry no one is kind. What about survival? Try to imagine such a world. I think it would lead to death of the species. Maybe a small survival but I don't think it would last long. I realise that this is not compelling argument but it serves for a beginning. I also realise that I'm not using convincing arguments. I don't feel the need. I know what I mean.
I would like to present the converse now. Suppose everyone was kind most of the time. I'll leave logic behind for now. I think the main effect would be cooperation and peace. I think the species would excel and would better hold out to live in the world, and beyond if it is possible.
While discussing philosophy of life I would be remiss if I did not say a word about power. The main feature of power which is largely forgotten is that it can only be given. It is always a choice to give power to someone, whether conscious or not. There are four things, which are really just facets of one idea, that make us allow someone to have power over us. These are kindness, fear, malice and greed which all come from considering the consequences, good and bad for us or others. It is not possible to seize power but it is possible to influence the consequences that will cause people to give you power.
One way to get greater power is to have greater focus of the consequences of people's actions and your priorities compared to those of others. People who like you (are kind to you) or fear you will give you power. Those who are greedy will give you power when you can offer them something and those who hate you will avoid giving you power. In fact, all people are a mix of these factors, which is both good and bad. It means things are not always clear but also that people can be swayed.
Where someone has power over you, it is best to consider the consequences. It may be undesirable to give power to an evil overlord but less desirable to be shot. If it is less desirable to see other people shot then you will no longer give the overlord power. Back, again, to priorities. Choose wisely because some choices cannot be changed.
There are a great many sins out there waiting to temp you. Most of these, however, are acts of selfishness and unkindness towards another, whether that be human, animal, plant or God. As such I've already dealt with them. In my opinion, of course, the greatest personal sin is that of complacency. For clarity, complacency is where you are completely content with how things are. This is not a bad thing in itself except that it leads to trouble. The most common trouble is forgetting that everything you have requires maintaining.
In times of plenty we forget to save food. In times of peace we lose the skill to fight. Complacency is when we get so wrapped up in the good times that we forget that there were bad times and forget how to deal with them. No matter how good things are we should always remember that things might not always be so good. Be prepared for the hardships and they will be less hard.
There are a great many things we do in life. Be proud of them because you have to live with them. Be proud of your mistakes too. You learn from them and if you do and avoid making them in similar circumstances you should be proud. Especially be proud of making small mistakes in safe circumstances when you've just avoided something dangerous.
A lot of the time we chicken out. We know what the right thing to do happens to be and yet we don't do it. The right thing can be hard to do and can be personally unpleasant but it's certainly the thing to do. If things are unpleasant or uncertain, think about what the right thing to do is and think about whether doing the wrong thing is really worth it. When you look back you'll know that in stead of taking the easy way out you did what was right and you can always take a little comfort in that. Especially in situations where the is no way out without loss.