Friday, October 26, 2007

These Things I Believe – A Personal Manifesto

Everyone has their own worldview, or weltanschauung, that defines for them their understanding of the world, and humanity's role therein. There are many issues that comprise one's views; issues that morph over time. In addition, the relative importance of those issues also evolve as forces, both internal and external, move them up or down in priority.

This is a brief summary of some of the core issues and beliefs that constitute my perspective on the world, and life here in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

  • I believe in the equality of worth of all people, irrespective of gender, race, beliefs, culture, or any of the other things that categorize and separate the members of the human race.
  • I believe in the supremacy of democratic forms of government, provided they have checks and balances in place to protect minority rights from the whims of, and oppression by, the majority.
  • I believe that while free markets drive innovation and competition, capitalism that is unfettered by regulation ultimately is as harmful as a communist system; in that the ultimate determinant of value becomes the welfare of the corporation rather than the welfare of the people.
  • I believe that some things are more efficiently and more equitably provided collectively than individually. To that end, there are certain functions that are better provided as universally available and publicly supported services. Examples include national defense, education, infrastructure for transportation and utilities, and health care. These need not be totally run by a government, but should be regulated to insure fair and universal access.
  • I believe that human problems have human solutions. People must work together to solve those issues that plague our species, and threaten its continued existence. Politics should be left out of such issues to the extent possible, so that issues are neither overblown or ignored for political gain.
  • I believe that the human mind is always free unless it cedes such liberty. No dictatorship can deny the freedom of thought and conscience that is within each of us. Therefore, it is incumbent upon each person to question authority, to demand evidence to support assertions, and to retain a healthy skepticism in regard to all issues. This is particularly true regarding issues that have no empirical evidential support.
  • I believe the greatest divisive issue now, and throughout history, is that of religion. While I fully support the freedom of conscience vis-à-vis religious beliefs of the individual, those rights end where they impact the rights of others. It is my conviction that the sooner humanity frees itself from the enslavement of religion, the sooner we will have a real opportunity for lasting peace and cooperation among all of the world's people. You don't see rationalists flying planes into buildings to get 72 virgins; nor shooting physicians at women's clinics because they oppose abortion. Any god that demands blood and killing is not one worth any consideration.
  • I believe that on the volatile issue of abortion, this is not a black or white issue. Religious fundamentalists hold that a human life exists at the moment of conception, a view not supported by either their own scriptures, or science; yet they attempt to legislate that belief on society as a whole. I also believe that abortion is all too commonly used, and far too late term, as a means of family planning. My view is that the procedure should be readily available during the time the fetus has no developed nervous system, and after that, when required for the woman's health and welfare.
  • I believe that any two people who have committed their lives to one another should be afforded the legal protections and benefits commonly attributed to marriage. Whether it is called marriage, civil union, or anything else, it infringes on the rights of no one, nor endangers their own marriage, if such recognition is extended to non-traditional or same gender couples.
  • I believe that personal behavior is just that, and not the business of government or society at large. Victimless crimes should be decriminalized, including personal use of drugs and, prostitution & other consensual sexual behavior. Of course, statutes against the impaired operation of vehicles on public rights-of-way should be enforced; as drunk or stoned drivers, pilots, and other operators can reasonably be expected to endanger the lives of others. The actual negative outcome should be against the law, not a private behavior and personal choice.
  • I believe the only sin is causing unnecessary pain, suffering, or trouble for another person. There is enough of these that occur as a consequence of living. It is unconscionable to cause more needlessly. There is no sin in offending the vanity of some possible deity. Sins are committed against other people. Blasphemy is a victimless crime.

I am sure that I will think of things to add to this list, but it is a good place to start.

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