Beliefs in action
I've been doing a bit of thinking lately about my own personal values and how they drive my decisions on a day-to-day basis. I think, to some degree, this is normal when going through a big move and starting at a new job. You're faced with people who don't know much about you. It also draws into focus some of the differences between you and others. As such, I thought I would list a few things that I personally believe both in hopes that you might learn something of me and I might learn something of myself.
The natural world is important to humanity's contentment and we are stewards of the land.
This manifests itself in a reduction of consumption in general. To be constantly consuming is considered "normal" is very unnatural. I feel as though we have lost sight of the symbiosis of nature. We continually take from our resources without replenishing. This is why breeds of fish are scarce from over fishing and elephants and rhinos are being poached for their ivory and tusks. It is our responsibility as the more-sentient species to watch over what has been given to us by our ancestors such that our descendents enjoy the same beauty.
The hard way is often not much harder and generally better.
My partner and I have taken up a great deal of "old-timey" homemaking skills. It often requires more elbow grease, but has been given an apt name. We feel drawn together when we spend time accomplishing a goal with one another. Making fresh bread brings us closer together than working separate jobs to earn money to buy it at the store ever would. It turns out, doing things "the hard way" isn't all that hard after all. It takes a bit of time, but its time spent with each other. What more can you ask for?
Another benefit of doing things "the hard way" is you learn more about the natural world. Its neat to learn things like good bread is really only a handful of base ingredients (flour, yeast, milk, salt and liquid) and makes something pretty amazing.
Additionally, you learn about how many things are interconnected. In the cheese making process, you separate the curd from the whey. The curd is pressed to make cheese (we make feta) leaving copious amounts of whey left over. This whey is very nutritious and can be used in place of water when making breads, giving them a punch of extra flavor. Similarly, many household cleaners are based off of the same base ingredients. Borax, washing soap, baking soda, and vinegar. From this, we've made dish detergent, dishwasher soap, toothpaste and hope to make quite a bit more.
We should minimize suffering both in humans and animals.
As well as being stewards of the flora, we must also take care of the fauna that surrounds us. To this end, we should be mindful about our choices to eat meat. This comes from a living thing and it deserves both respect and honor. I'm not willing to say that we shouldn't eat meat (its both delicious and I believe it to be quite good for you), but I also think our meat for every meal culture is a little at odds with ancestry. Especially in regards to the next point, I struggle with what this actually translates to in practice. As it stands, we attempt to buy meats which give the animals access to conditions similar to their natural conditions. We don't always succeed, we're not particularly vigilant when we eat out, and its a constant back-and-forth with just how much more expensive these options are. We're not perfect in the least, but at least being conscious of it, I feel like we're doing better than nothing.
Additionally, I believe we should help humanity in ways that we can, be it volunteering, monetary donations or even just being kind to your fellow man. We're stuck with each other, after all, so we should get along as it will just work out better for everyone in the end. :)
Frugality is a virtue worth striving for. We should be wholly responsible for our own financial well-being.
By frugality, I don't mean cheapness. I mean paying for things relative to the value they provide to you. I also mean thinking about the impact something really has. Cars have a much bigger impact on you financially than you might otherwise think. Housing, similarly, is a bit of a mental conundrum when you think about it. On average, an extra bedroom in a house costs an additional $200/mo in rent (as compared to an house 1 bedroom smaller). People have extra bedrooms so "the family has somewhere to stay". I find it quite crazy, having done some reading on the topic, that you're paying $2400/yr just so your family has somewhere to stay for the 1 week they visit. For that much money, you could afford to put you and your family up in the same hotel and still come out on top!
It is important to think for oneself.
A great deal of media these days feels like its trying to tell us all of the different angles you can look at something. They focus on small details while simultaneously ignoring more important ones. To some degree, I think this doling out of "here is what you should think about this topic" style of media to be an aide in the sort of ignorance we have bred in America with people who doubt evolution, the Holocaust and the Moon Landing. In the tech world, you have the sort of drivel that fills the bottom of the news buckets such as which VC funded or didn't fund some startup or another 7 of the best top 7 lists in the past 7 days. Disconnecting from the constant stream of news and updates allows you to process things and gives your mind a chance to think for itself, rather than just reciting what you read on a blog 3 years ago about some topic.
Working hard is worthwhile.
Hard work is important to me. We only have a limited amount of time in which we can do good we should spend it doing something worthwhile. This means not doing things like hanging out on facebook all day when you should be working. This means pursuing personal productivity (at a level which is effective, while not fetishizing process and tools) to make me more.. well.. productive! Realizing that I'm lucky to say this, working hard also means that working somewhere where I feel as though I'm bringing happiness to myself and others.
Pursuing knowledge is key in maintaining clarity of thought and expression.
Learning new things is a cornerstone of a well-rounded person. Whether its attending a tiny house workshop, learning a new technology, or finding a cheaper way to do something you already do, seeking out these things allows you produce new and novel ideas. Developing a breadth of experience allows you to make the sorts of jumps in lateral thinking that keeps innovation flowing. Furthermore, by seeking out new knowledge, you can better explain your ideas by finding a common ground with someone else. Need to explain DNS? Its like asking for directions. Need to explain how a french drain works? Its a lot like how the environment naturally works.
Perusing a healthy lifestyle is valuable. Eating well, exercising and socializing make you a better individual.
If you know me, you know that I've gone through a bit of a physical transformation in recent years. Due to eating right (thanks goes out to Weight Watchers) and exercising, I've managed to lose over 90 pounds. To say this has been life transformational would be an understatement. Something more accurate might be to say that I've been given an additional life thanks to how much longer I should live. Losing the weight was a long slog for me and I still have more to do, but the feeling of it is fantastic. I literally jump around my apartment and climb all over our counter tops because I have so much energy that I need to release some of it. This is a far cry to the past version of myself who would eat pizza until he was sick to his stomach, then continue to eat more pizza before going directly to sleep. It honestly makes me a little uncomfortable to even think of that. Losing the weight was simple, but it was by no means easy. Weight Watchers gave me the tools and accountability (without being pushy) that I really needed. It has a sigma of being for women (and to be fair, I had boobs when I started) but its really just for people who want to stop being fat. If you're struggling with it, check out one of their meetings. Its actually a great road map of how to get into shape.
This has been cathartic getting this all down. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the subjects presented here. I think dialog about these might draw out a few more bullet points I can add.