Time for a little philosophical rambling.
I was feeling down last night. In general, I’m quite content with my life and the people in it. It wasn’t anything like that bothering me. It was more a general malaise, a sort of disturbance at the state of the world. Of how people treat each other. There is so much acrimony going on, especially here in America.
So I was feeling sad, and my thoughts and dreams reflected this. At some point during the night, my mind brought up this thought:
All human beings everywhere, have an implicit contract with all other human beings, to treat them with respect.
That’s pretty simple, really. No one is exempt. We need this contract in order to have a civilization. It’s what enables us to leave our children with strangers everyday, so those people can teach them to read and write. It lets us come together with others we may not know, in order to accomplish a task. It eases our lives in countless ways.
If we could not count on everyone around us to treat us with respect, we could not leave our homes. And everyplace in the world where people are afraid, whether it’s West Oakland or Afghanistan, they are afraid because other people are not keeping the contract.
I believe this contract has always existed. I suppose in earlier times, before easy travel and the world-wide-web, it was understandable if we mostly applied the contract to those of our tribe. But that’s a luxury we no longer have. It becomes more obvious everyday, that the whole world of humans is the tribe.
No one is exempt. Not even hermits living in caves. Or Libertarians.
We begin teaching this to our children at moment of birth, when we hold that child and meet its needs for food, warmth, and love. We continue to teach it in all their interactions with other humans, from parents and siblings, to teachers and friends.
Treat all humans with respect.
So what does respect mean? Don’t people have to earn it? Isn’t it reserved for people who do great things or have lots of money, or maybe, the biggest gun?
In the dictionary, there are several definitions for the word, but I think this fits our contract best:
To treat with consideration or courteous regard.
That’s it. Simple. Basically just the Golden Rule in another form. Most of the time, if we’ve broken a law, that action is a result of breaking the contract. We write billions of words into bills and laws and legal documents, but it all comes down to one simple contract.
Start everyday with contract in mind, and see where it takes you.