Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Randy's kinda sorta manifesto

Hmmm. This was my idea, so I'll give it a go.

I believe in love, compassion, and empathy, especially with regard to my immediate family. I have learned much from our sometimes joyful, sometimes painful experiences of the past several years, but nothing more than that I deeply love my wife and children. I am fortunate, I suppose, that compassion and empathy seem to be part of my nature. Strangely, however, love was an emotion that pretty much had to be learned. I think I feared it, quite honestly.

I believe that we are all interconnected to some extent, a phenomenon that helps me to think in terms of compassion and empathy. I'm not sure exactly how this interconnectedness works--beyond my circle of family and friends, this connection may be more spiritual than material--but I sense that it is real.

I believe in spirituality, whether or not it is tied to any particular faith tradition. For me personally, spirituality is an experiential and experimental phenomenon; however, I respect those who find their way in more traditional structures. I believe that we are born with everything we need spiritually already implanted within us--whether by God or nature--and that the challenge is to discover that and develop it.

I believe that freedom of speech and expression of ideas is the most important principle in our political discourse. That is not to say that all ideas are valid or equal--I certainly believe in shouting down, disproving, and discrediting ideas I find offensive or wrong. I tend to have knee-jerk reactions to any restrictions on speech (other than reasonable restrictions on time, place, and manner), even outside of the political sphere. Having said all that, I'm perfectly willing to be bound by the restrictions on my own speech that go along with my job, but that is a matter of choice.

I believe in equality. This comes in part from my religious upbringing. I really believed that we are all equal in the eyes of God, and that He is no respecter of persons. Moreover, I've always been something of a "small-d democrat," at least on a philosophical level. I still get pissed whenever the highway is closed for a presidential visit--why can't he drive in the damn traffic like everybody else? In practice, of course, it seems that some people are more equal than others, as Orwell wrote, but it sure is nice to at least believe otherwise.

I believe in reason, scholarship, science, and the scientific method. This should go without saying, but with antiscientific, ahistorical worldviews seeing something of a resurgence, I thought I'd throw it in. I do not believe that science and scholarship are necessarily at odds with sprituality and religion, though they may occasionally suggest reinterpretation of cherished beliefs.

I probably believe some other stuff too, but these are some of my biggies.

4 comments:

doug said...

I also believe in some kind of mystical interconnectedness but for the life of me don't know how to describe it or account for it.

I am on a Sam Harris kick after having listened to his podcasts from Point of Inquiry and viewing two video lectures. I am waiting on his book "End of Faith" and continue to look for anything by him on the net. This is my way of saying that I share your “belief in reason, scholarship, science, and the scientific method…[given the] antiscientific, ahistorical worldviews seeing something of a resurgence”

Ann said...

I like the things you believe in. I think it's especially good that given your profession, you are a free speech kind of guy.

Learning to love is a beautiful idea.

Kristian said...

That is great. Everybody should write one of those.

Steven said...

Boy, your thoughts on spirituality and the interconnectedness of all things really clicks with me. I feel the same way. In my twenties, I was very into new age philosphy. I read tons of books on spirituality and people's experiences. I had many experiences of my own that seemed to "testify" to me that no religion had it right nor did any lack value but that I did not need to subscribe to any religion in order to be saved.

So why did I dive headlong into religion in my 30s and early 40s?? Thank God, I'm back to being "spiritual" and "connected" and feeling much more at peace.