Code of Conduct

A Guide To Being Better

Copyright © 2017 by Wil C. Fry. All Rights Reserved.

Updated 2017.10.16

The best acronym I’ve come up with so far

1. Be Kind

(There’s never a reason to be unkind.)

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2. Be Informed

(Your brain is mostly empty. Fill it.)

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3. Train

(Everything improves with practice)

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Explanation For Recent Changes

I completely updated this page in mid-2017, superseding the 2013/2015 version, 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, then 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 Batman, especially the part where Batman is a superior warrior in physical encounters. He wants to fight, and 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.”

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