The Survival Pledge: Peace Through Responsibility
Updated: Sep 2, 2021
George C. Marshall, of the Marshall Plan, once observed, “If man does find the solution for world peace it will be the most revolutionary reversal of his record we have ever known.”
How we behave can be influenced by what we believe. What we believe is based not only on our experience, but on what we have been taught. In order to achieve peace and survival, our species needs guides to behavior that are beneficial to every party involved. We need a global symbiosis that stems from healthy and safe interactions between two or more individuals. To survive, we must focus on ourselves and learn to carefully examine any projections we create upon others. Only by taking this ultimate responsibility can we avoid evil and survive.
To this end, I offer what I call The Survival Pledge: an eight-point plan to refocus each of us on taking responsibility for our own thoughts and behaviors in ways that benefit ourselves and each other:
1. I exist. In all probability, at some point, I will cease to exist.
2. There is no universally agreed upon meaning to my existence. If there is a meaning, I cannot be certain of what it is. I will take full responsibility for the consequences of choosing to assign a meaning to my own existence. I will never assign nor compel others to assign a meaning to their own existence.
3. As I do not wish to be harmed in any way by others, I will support the general idea of not harming others in any way, in the hope that my own risk will be lessened.
4. If I wish to continue to exist as long as possible, I will help others to exist as long as possible in the hope that my own existence might also be prolonged.
5. I will take full responsibility for any actions I take that threaten to shorten my existence or lead to my unhappiness.
6. I will not confuse “rights” or legislated privileges with wishes and desires that may well impinge upon another person’s freedom.
7. I will allow myself hope but not confuse this with faith.
8. I will become as comfortable as possible with uncertainty.
Individuals need guides to behavior, but we need guides that have roots in validity and goals that are consciously consistent with that of the individual. Studies in evolutionary biology and psychology struggle to define what behaviors have taken us to where we are now. Are these the strategies that will continue to work best for Homo sapiens, or can we and should we consciously chart a different path? Our world needs stories and fables and guides to behavior that are beneficial to every party involved; subsequent posts in this blog will explore each of these steps in greater detail.