Explanation For Recent Changes
I completely updated this page in mid-2017, superseding the
, which had five tenets. The
change originated from conversations with my four-year-old son — when I realized I needed
this to be simpler to communicate with other people.
I removed separate tenets “be responsible”, “be moderate”, and
“be decisive”, while adding “train”.
The first was easily rolled into “be kind”, which includes responsibility toward
oneself, others, and the world at large.
The second (“moderate”) is something I’m not sure I agree with anymore,
partially because it contains multiple connotations. If the goal is to be better
I don’t think it makes sense to be moderately
better. If kindness means helping
people, then it is counterproductive to only moderately
help them — if it is in our
power to do more. The only meanings of “moderation” that I still agree with are easily
included in the “be kind” tenet.
The third (“be decisive”) is somewhat important, but only to someone who has trouble
making decisions on her own. I realized other people have no trouble making snap decisions, often
with incomplete information and often with disastrous results. So, simply encouraging someone to
be more decisive isn’t necessarily helpful. And when it is helpful, then it is included
under the umbrella of being kind.
“Train” is a new tenet. I originally wanted to add “be fit”, but changed
it to “train” for multiple reasons. (1) The acronym works better with a T-word.
(2) The verb “train” is more inclusive than mere fitness
, because it includes
practicing things other than physical movements. (3) The word “fitness” has
connotations that are unattainable for many people — for example, people with physical
disabilities or the elderly. Instead of feeling a need to add an explanatory paragraph about how
I meant “the most fitness one can attain based on one’s abilities”, it made more
sense to use a different word without those connotations. Each of us, regardless of age or
abilities, can use practice/training in various areas.
Back to my young son. Recently, he told me he wants to be Batman when he grows up — a
perfectly normal aspiration for a four-year-old. After a longer conversation, I determined that he
didn’t actually want to be Batman
, but he wanted to be like
the part where Batman is a superior warrior in physical encounters. He wants to fight
he wants to win
when he fights.
Not being a fighter myself — I have always eschewed physical violence except in self-defense
— and not being trained to fight in any way, I knew I could not train my son to be a
Batman-esque fighter. But I could start him on the right path with a few simple tenets. I told him
the first step to being a successful “warrior” (a word to which he took an immediate
liking) is learning
. This was selfish on my part; I’m currently trying to prepare his
mind for kindergarten next year. I told him that without exercising his mind and learning as much
as possible, then physical training will be of less use. And I told him the second step to being a
successful warrior is empathy — the basis of kindness. (Yes, I used words that a
four-year-old can understand.) I taught him about thinking of other people’s feelings and
needs. “What good would it be to be a strong warrior if you don’t know who you’re
protecting or saving, or why?” As an object lesson, I took him with me to buy needed supplies
for Hurricane Harvey victims, and he helped me deliver them. Then I told him the third step to
being a successful warrior is practice — training and exercise. “You will fail if
you’re not fit.”
After a few days of practicing these tenets with my son, I remembered this web page and realized
that I could shorten and simplify my own “code of conduct” using the three tenets
I was teaching my son. No, they’re not in the same order as what he’s learning, and
no I’m not using the same words. For him, it’s “Learn. Be Kind. Train.”
For me, it’s “K.I.T.”