This document defines a standard of social interaction, and may also be termed a "social contract". Standards are primarily for communicating ideals; and while they indicate acceptable behaviors, they should not be considered to be rules or laws. Interpretation of the standards should always be tempered with good will and common sense.
The average person conducts day-to-day activities with as much or more influence on decisions coming from the unconscious as the conscious mind. By living according to standards, control of one's behavior is brought more fully under the dominion of the conscious mind. One obvious indication of this would be a reduced frequency of occasions where actions made under stress (or out of "habit") are regretted later.
Standards also provide a means whereby potential compatibility of persons can be assessed early in the formation of a relationship. It is probably in the context of developing a relationship with a person or community that you are reading this document. Carefully note any area where you feel you are not in complete agreement with a principle, value, or methodology being described. By identifying the contrasting ideas, you can clarify your own position.
To enhance the experience of life as a joyful process, one must endeavor to cultivate an attitude of optimism. One must always be aware of the positive aspects of any situation, regardless of the presence or severity of negative ones.
Many of the greatest joys of life come through interrelating with others, and as joy is the natural state, its experience is reached by consciously encountering and controlling negative (but common) behaviors which inhibit it.
Keys to joyful relations are of conviviality and good manners. One must endeavor to maintain a cheerful disposition and sociable attitude. This includes no angry outbursts, threats, harassments or violent behavior of any kind.
Extreme negative feelings such as alienation, bitterness, hatefulness, wrath, resentment, outrage, or prejudice require immediate and serious personal work and would not be silently tolerated from one's closer associates.
All persons must strive for an overall psychological equilibrium through maintaining a sense of humor, non-touchiness and absence of grimness even in serious situations. Overreacting emotionally, tendency to panic or carrying around a sense of morbidity would indicate a need for readjustment.
To maintain this balance, all persons must strive to create a supportive environment in which individuals develop an unhurried manner and eliminate nervous propensities, and avoid either going into psychological withdrawal or ungraciously "dumping" one's emotional effluence on others.
Taking etiquette, courtesy and good manners seriously, one must always try to behave in a sensitive, considerate, and refined fashion. Examples would include keeping one's word, returning calls, being a good host or guest, and not becoming over-intoxicated or otherwise obnoxious at social occasions.
A cooperative spirit is to be maintained wherever possible. Any disengagement initiated by any party from a previous involvement must be honored gracefully, without ill will or crude behavior. (This is known as "graceful distancing".)
An aware person is dedicated to consistently working on themselves for the following reasons: Everyone has her/his own weak points and neuroses to work on and there is no such thing as reaching a state of perfection that precludes opportunity or capability for improvement. Self-improvement requires on-going conscious effort and attention. Finally, change is an inescapable aspect of life; but only with conscious effort can such change act to one's benefit.
A person must cultivate objective self-awareness to view themselves accurately and observe areas for improvement. Some techniques for attaining objective awareness of one's self are: making lists of one's good and bad points, memory regenerative exercises, videotherapy, autobiographical story telling and use of caricatures. One should practice discernment and definition of their own special interest areas, as a means of becoming more centered, productive and social.
One must consciously evaluate possible lifestyle choices and select that which is most compatible with the individual identity. If a person cannot verbally support their own choices, with conviction, they should be looking for ways to change the situation to arrive at a centered position mentally, socially and vocationally. (This is known as "lifestyle resolution".)
Aware persons identify themselves as scholars, seeking to develop and utilize their intellectual faculties to the fullest possibility. One should cultivate a fondness for learning, and participate where possible in the development of a supportive learning environment.
Serious self improvement must include pursuit of leadership qualities, in order to allow each individual to take an equal position in the management of community affairs. Proper organization of any community will provide adequate opportunity for shared leadership. Similarly, anyone should be able to speak about their beliefs or involvements to an audience. This would include audio or video recordings and broadcasts as well as in person. Also, any discussion of a belief or idea should be done without a preconceived desire to convert others to one's own point of view.
All persons will utilize a number of techniques and processes to facilitate their growth, and should endeavor to be aware of new developments in these areas. A positive value should be placed on discovering and evaluating new techniques. Since individual responses vary from one approach to another, use of different approaches by other individuals is to be tolerated and supported. Special emphasis should be placed on participatory growth experiences with other like-minded individuals.
One must cultivate the ability to recognize and honor their emotions without allowing them to override their intellect in controlling their actions. Reactionary emotions such as insult or humiliation are seen as a disturbance of one's own psychic equilibrium, and are to be contained by taking an alternative perception of the information being put forth.
One must cultivate a positive attitude towards enabling technologies. This would manifest in a willingness to utilize any safe and efficient means of transportation, or communicate via radio or computer. A positive value would be placed on acquiring any skills necessary to operate the appropriate components of these technologies.
In addition to the emotional and intellectual, self-improvement must include the condition of the physical body. A positive value is placed on improving physical condition, particularly in maintaining appropriate weight for height, developing and maintaining significant physical strength, and training for particular physical skills and capabilities (such as personal defense). Regular use of addictive substances or abuse of any substances is to be eliminated.
Whenever possible, group interaction will be utilized to assist in personal emotional development, as objective analysis is usually more easily acquired by feedback from others. Empathy should first be established among the working group, after which confrontative methods can be incorporated into the process to accelerate development and emphasize the individual's power to change. Strength Confrontation should be used when a person is not using or being blind to resources and strengths available to them for solving their problems. Participants must evaluate their motives for confronting, insuring a commitment to processing and deeper involvement.
Rationality is the key to all true understanding. Critical analysis and evaluation are essential prerequisites to the acceptance of any proposal, idea, or theory. Strong feelings, mystical intuition, blind faith, or unreasonable statements are unacceptable as proof of truth. Becoming attached to irrational or unrealistic ideas solely for the sake of being unusual is also unacceptable.
Whenever the truth is not obvious or known, it is always maintained that there is one and only one objective reality. Contradictions in premises indicate a faulty or incomplete understanding and analysis towards the elimination of contradictions will yield a complete and correct understanding.
Within the context of community, all persons are expected to keep others posted as to their latest thoughts, feelings, activities, and future plans. When two or more people reach an agreement and one has changed their mind or plans for any reason, that one must discuss the new position with others involved to either re-confirm the original agreement or arrive at a new one. Similarly, one has the responsibility of staying in touch with and understanding developments of significance to the community. Active participation of each person is to be expected in the discussion of significant issues.
"Gropes" or intuitive guesses as to someone's underlying motivations or psychology and are viewed as a helpful technique and not to be taken as an affront or insult.
Clear honest communication and avoidance of misunderstanding is the goal of every person, to be achieved through the practice of precision and clarity and the elimination of inattention or faulty assumptions in interpersonal exchanges. Rational dialogue allows for the use of animated, dynamic and colorful language within a literal context. Being explicit about personal matters is desirable as long as what is said comes from good will. Each person is responsible for the consequences of their statements and actions.
Standing up for one's sense of honest communications with candor is seen as positive regardless of what any other individuals may think or feel. Honest representation of one's self including admitting to an infraction when someone else is being confronted on it, is expected of all persons.
Telling untruths, "forgetting" to tell the truth, or fostering secret opinions and malicious gossip (duplicity) are unacceptable behaviors. Distorting, altering or ignoring one's own beliefs in an attempt to please or appease others is unacceptable. Trying to give an impression which does not reflect one's true state of mind or behavior (known as "impression management") is not acceptable. Saying things in jest which are really meant seriously, or the inability to be serious about issues which warrant seriousness (flippancy) is not acceptable.
Listening is part of honoring truth, and persons are expected to retain what they hear that is of significance, and to ask questions when they don't understand what is being said. One should be open to repeating ideas in conversation, or having them be repeated, as repetition is viewed as a useful technique for learning.
The belief in and acceptance of a single "Universal Ethic", applicable to all persons and situations, is essential to the creation and maintenance of a true liberty. A basic working definition of the ethic contains these three concepts:
The portion of the Ethic described here applies to rational adults. The mentally impaired or immature also have similar rights, but simple consent is not sufficient to insure them. Further elaboration on the Ethic as applied to such persons is outside the scope of this document.
Liberty is maintained in a community or society by the practice of participatory democracy. Decisions are made in different ways depending on the seriousness of the issue. Ideally, the most preferable decision making method is employed first, and others are gradually tried if difficulty is encountered in reaching a decision. Prior to actual decision making, issues are talked out at length depending upon their significance. Participants are expected to express their true feelings during such discussions. Voting is handled on the basis of every person having one vote. Voting is considered a pleasure; losing a vote is expected to be taken graciously, in the cooperative spirit of the democratic process.
The acceptable methods are described below in the order of preference:
Basic personal choices can be made in a "quantum" mode, as distinguished from a vague or qualitative viewpoint. Establishing a "yes/no" position on an issue allows for definitive progress where an attitude of "sort of" can be an inhibitor of progress. Such a decision can always be reversed with new input, but remains clear until the need to reevaluate arises.
All areas of personal choice fall into one of two categories: matters of Ethic, and matters of opinion. Just as in matters of Ethic there is one and only one correct viewpoint, in matters of opinion there are no "correct" viewpoints. When the opinions of others are not in agreement with one's own, they are still to be given proper respect and consideration.
Variations in culture, tradition, lifestyle, and religion add a richness to interpersonal interactions. A positive value should be placed on experiencing other cultures. The ultimate evolution of society is seen as a multi-cultural rather than having just a single culture, and this can only be achieved via the practice of social tolerance by every individual.
A sense of equality is necessary for the practice of social tolerance. Observing equality does not mean that all people are treated the same, however. Individual distinctions are to be recognized and honored, without being considered a basis for inferiority or superiority. This applies to immutable aspects of identity (such as gender, age, or race) as well as personal choices.
In particular, the following would be considered personal choices that do not affect the respect or status to be accorded to the individual: any religious practice (provided the tenets of the religion are compatible with the Universal Ethic), sexual orientation (heterosexual, bisexual, etc.), lifestyle choice (monogamy, polyfidelity, polytrothism, etc.), marital status (single, divorced, married, etc.), parenthood (or lack of same), cultural or social background, ethnic orientation, affiliation with any organization (provided it observes the Ethic), or economic status (provided the requirements of personal responsibility are observed).
One should cultivate an awareness of social and physical conditions on both a local and global level. When possible, one should seek to contribute towards the solution of problems existing in any of these areas. More importantly, each person should seek to shape their lifestyle to be compatible with the needs of the community and planet; thus not adding to existing problems or creating new ones.
The following provide some examples of responsible actions. Global overpopulation can be observed by limiting procreation to one child (or less) per parent, and satisfying the emotional desires for parenting by shared parenting arrangements. Pollution of the environment can be helped by being aware of waste production, recycling where possible, using minimal waste alternative resources where available, and abstaining from unnecessary waste producing actions. Destruction of natural resources may be countered by boycotts of products produced by the destructive industries and possibly political action. Boycotts can also be employed against products tested unnecessarily on animals, or products produced by damaging animal habitats.
Every adult person is responsible for their own economic support, either directly via employment or entrepreneurship, or indirectly via a labor equivalent within a community structure.
A person must insure that their dwelling provides adequate security and private space for their needs. Personal space must be maintained with sufficient tidiness and cleanliness so that a guest would not suffer via vermin or disease.
If a person's living situation includes any shared or public space, such space would be honored by not leaving personal possessions within it indefinitely. Shared spaces or resources should always be returned as nearly as possible to their original state after use, for example: dishes would be cleaned, workspace would be cleared, and lights would be extinguished.
An individual is responsible for maintaining a level of personal cleanliness and hygiene so as not to be offensive to others one would interact with.
In addition to the personal benefits, every individual should monitor their health status by regular checkups to avoid exposing one's intimate contacts to the possibility of disease.
Addictions or dependencies are to be recognized, acknowledged, and then treated by an appropriate therapy. Utilization of professional assistance as necessary would be seen as a positive tool, and should in no way diminish one's self image.
Every person should be consciously working on developing on-going relationships with others around special interest areas, and in seeking quality and depth in all personal relationships. Every relationship has a value based solely on how well it serves those involved. Comparison of relationships as a means of evaluation is avoided as it does not honor the intrinsic value of each relationship.
In any relationship of proven value, one must be prepared to put forth honest effort towards working out any problems that arise. Simply escaping from an otherwise high quality relationship is unacceptable as it denotes shallowness of character and lack of respect for the value of a relationship. On the other hand, if a disengagment is responsibly initiated in good faith by any person in a relationship, it must be respected and handled gracefully by the others involved.
Once a relationship has been established and is familiar, one must not take it for granted but instead continue to work on the connection. All relationships are defined and modeled in terms of how and where they fit on a scale of intimacy level. The objective of this model is to allow all individuals to build relationships in the most psychologically conducive manner, with the absence of negative intrigues which stem from being inappropriately close or distant. New relationships are to be explored to the highest level of intimacy that is comfortable to all involved. Conversely, individuals in a relationship that becomes too intense or uncomfortable would gracefully distance to a less intense level of involvement.
One should always form relationships based on agreements and standards, and any form of coercion or non-reciprocity is unacceptable behavior. Making agreements in the form of a written or oral contract prior to beginning an activity or relationship helps to clarify the mutual consent and eliminate misunderstandings on how much time, friendship, attention or affection a person is consenting to share or explore in the relationship or project. Agreements then need to be modified to reflect any subsequent changes in participants' consent. No relationships are unconditional, and any changes in agreement or breaches of standards will have an effect.
In every type of relationship, mutual consent is a precondition. Human beings are not treated as objects to be possessed or manipulated. Requesting someone to do something is never to be intended or interpreted as a demand, where a negative response might be grounds for an adverse reaction from the requester. An individual must be clear in saying "No" and never agree to do something they don't really want to do.