Life hasn’t always been easy. Having grown up with multiple learning disabilities and socialization problems (read An Autistic’s Personal Perspective) I had to struggle through school and college, getting a job, and establishing myself in society. My only saving grace was that I was stubbornly persistent in pushing the envelope of my abilities throughout life. I have short-term memory deficiencies consequently very poor math skills as well as dyslexia thus poor reading skills yet managed to struggle through college as an Electrical Engineering major and get a master’s degree without financial support. I got a good job in a good company and ended up getting a number of patents. In spite of being autistic I managed to become an environmental activist in several organizations and help local candidates run for regional offices. I often feel like a salmon swimming up the long and tumultuous rapids of life but persistence and pushing the envelope have paid off.
So I have much empathy for those who have to struggle through life even if under different circumstances. Life might easily have taken a turn for the worst had seemingly random events turned out differently. I feel compassion and empathy towards others especially those less fortunate than I (read The Good Samaritan). This is at the very core of my beliefs. Do to others as you would do to yourself is a Christian/Judaic/Muslim value that rings true to me. But I do have trouble expressing these values because of my inhibitions to interact with the lives of others. But I try very hard.
Establishing relationships is very difficult for me. I understand how important relationships are as we are social animals. But I have not been very successful at it though in my old age I am getting a little better. Because I cannot tell how people are responding to my conversations I can sound quite bluntly frank which is often a relationship killer. I am always on the guard. But I am acutely aware of the great importance of relationships and don’t take them for granted. Relationships are things you need to initiate and invest the time and effort to sustain. It is something I am working very hard at. But it is unnatural and outside my comfort zone.
So my values should no surprise to the very few people who knows me well. I list some of them in the first paragraph of this blog’s Home page. I also gain inspiration from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, first sentence of the second paragraph which I often reference in posts on human rights and social justice:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Fundamentally I believe this Universe to be rational, based upon interconnected building blocks held together by the glue of a common law of nature. This is why science continues to thrive. I believe that we humans are part of this rational universe and are thus governed by these rational laws. Thus I am a Rationalist. Things have to make sense to be valid. That is why I am not a spiritual person (also read Autism and the Lack of Spirituality). Truth on the other hand often requires a leap of faith which I am not very good at making. But I do acknowledge that there exists truths beyond my understanding. I have a great affinity towards science which also requires a certain degree of faith because there is so much I don’t understand, but I have implicit faith in the methodology of science and pear reviews and understand its current limitations.
Because we are a social animal we are genetically dispositioned to interact and communicate. Communications is so fundamental to how we conduct daily lives that in recent years it has been artificially enhanced by technology with various form of social networking. In order to facilitate communications we must respect one another in spite of our differences. I struggle with this but know how essential this is. I am a strong proponent of freedom of expression as long as it is peaceful and within certain social norms of decency even if it goes against my core beliefs. I make no claims of omniscient so who am I to judge the absolute truth of anyone’s expression other than its reasonableness. It is important to be exposed to all points of views unhindered.
As a social animal we must learn to coexist in peace and respect. Peaceful coexistence seems so foreign to us. Today there is news of violence in Egypt. Tomorrow it will be somewhere else. People hate each other so much that they kill in the name of this or that. Most victims of violence are everyday people such as you and me, many simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It seem irrational to me to do violence upon another. Our thirst for Osama bin Laden’s blood resulted in many battles and the ending of thousands of lives until he was killed 10 years later yet the killing continues. This is irrational and insane. For this reason I am a pacifist. I believe in doing no harm to another. I am against any war or killing that does not involve directly protecting our homeland or ourselves. If we totally left the Arab countries alone they would have nothing to gain by antagonizing us. A single life is too precious to take in a wink of an eye or twitch of a trigger. In the eyes of any creator the life of the President is no more precious than any insignificant individual killed in Iraq or Pakistan or anywhere else.
Just as we should have respect for one another to enhance communications and relationships we should also respect and appreciate the planet on which we are guests. We were not here when the world was created and likely we will not be here when it ends. So we must treasure and nurture the many benefits the world had bestowed upon us as our host. We should not pillage its natural resources or upset and abuse the natural sustainable balance of nature. Thus I am an environmentalist. Unfortunately modern man seems bent upon abusing nature’s resources for his pleasure.
To summaries my core values I: have compassion and empathy towards others; believe in the fundamental rights of all to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; am a Rationalist; respect others in spite of differences; believe in freedom of expression; am a pacifist who believe in doing no harm; and am an environmentalist who respects and appreciates the planet on which we are guests. Like most my actions do not always reflect my core values. But I hold these values to be my golden standers for life and living.