Occasionally, I sit down and ask myself what I believe. Here are my ten for this season.
- I don’t believe in a lot of rules, not for me, not for my wife, not for my children, not for my grandchildren, not for my friends, not for my employees. Want people to break rules? Make rules.
- Work is salvation. Realizing I would grow old over time, I organized my life so I would always have meaningful work to perform. Early on, I made sure that no one could retire me. I created my own companies. I made it so I would be forced to work every single day of my life. Right now I’m phasing into being a full time writer. I made sure I would be paid to write. That way I would employ maximum discipline.
I’m a believer in meeting deadlines. Over the last 35 years I’ve published over two hundred articles and four books. Over the next ten years, I will write at least five more books, and five hundred more articles. If I keep that schedule I’ll die of too much work. That’s acceptable, so long as I continue to get better at writing and writing truthfully.
- I think it is vitally important to be smart. There are two ways to be smart: one way is to be born smart. I have a son-in- law who was born smart. From the very beginning he tested very high on IQ tests. The second way to be smart is to work at becoming smart. I think my wife is that kind of person. She is constantly looking for better ways to improve everyday living. I can’t think of anything she hasn’t experimented with to make my life easier. For example she’s constantly buying new pillows to see which is more comfortable when I sleep. To my disbelief I sleep more soundly when one pillow is very firm and the other is very soft. My head rests in the crease between the hard and soft pillows.
- It is vitally important to embrace science and philosophy. You come closer to understanding the world by embracing these two disciplines than by doing anything else. Those who consciously debunk science in favor of religion are wrong headed. There is no rational reason I can discern which makes the world better by embracing religion and rejecting science. With the environmental challenges we face today I would put science first. The heart of religion is a drive to preserve tribal loyalty. I need the rituals and historical benefits of culture that tribal and family identity give me. I owe most of my contentment in life to the intimate connection I’ve had with my family, church, and community. But I need the knowledge and rationality that science and philosophy brings much more at this point in history. This is especially the case if I am to have any chance at overcoming the obstacles that surely confront us this century. I don’t want the planet to turn into an oven. If we don’t manage the temperature my grandchildren’s generation will be called the popcorn generation.
- To accomplish anything of significance in life one must be honest. Because we are social creatures with brains we create personal narratives about ourselves. We tell the world who we are by telling them stories about ourselves. Many, if not most times, these narratives are both overly inflated and filled with layers of personal defenses. These are created because we want to be seen as successful in life, and to be accepted by our social groups for those successes. Better to throw down pretense. For example, I have a son who simply doesn’t like me. For a long time I wouldn’t admit that. I wanted to be seen as a successful father. Well, he just doesn’t like me. And I did my best fathering with him. He made up a story where one time I spanked him with a belt on his bare bottom. Not true. When he tells stories like that, I don’t like him either. But, would I like to patch things up? Sure.
- It’s necessary to develop a healthy amount of skepticism. Remember that teenage girl who disappeared in Aruba while on her high school graduation trip? Remember the mother sticking with the story that the Dutch boy killed her. I was absolutely certain he was innocent. Come to find out he ended up killing another girl. I was wrong. I should have had a healthier dose of skepticism. It’s impossible to get things right all the time, it’s even hard to get things right a majority of the time. Let the facts play out.
- I must continue to embrace risk. I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t have to get out of bed in the morning. If there wasn’t something that stirred me, I probably wouldn’t. That’s why I will continue to invest in new ventures. My money must always be working to bring about maximum return. If I don’t someone else should have the money who is willing to take the necessary risk. Right now, I have two projects I’m going to be investing in: one, a pictorial history of Irish graveyards from 1580-1680 and two, a pictorial history of American graveyards from 1680-1865. Weird isn’t it? Subconsciously I could be house hunting.
- I believe in disrupting old habits. I’ve been eating cheerios for over sixty years. It’s time to break that habit and introduce diversity into my breakfast. To do that, I now fill my breakfast bowl with one half raisin brand and one half cheerios. I add one small package of Splenda with 1% milk. When I’m not looking my wife substitutes in 2% milk. She thinks I need more fat in my diet. I’ve been spending most of my life cutting down on fat. Now she wants me to have more fat in my diet. That can’t be. But According to Time Magazine’s cover article, now I’m suppose to eat butter. You wait long enough and you return to where you started out.
- Life can be absurd. We fight over something none of us has ever seen.
- Coaches have the right to cut players who refuse to conform to the system that has been implemented. So too does the Mormon Church’s leadership have the right to discipline members who refuse to follow its rules. Players can appeal. So can members. If formal appeal doesn’t work, they now appeal to the Internet community. The latest encounter involving Kate Kelly, John Dehlin and the church has been a fully open discussion and disgorgement of most all the information relevant to the conflict. I continue to be impressed with how the Internet democratizes events that heretofore have been covered by secrecy.