Here’s the Beyond Rules approach to life: You can do whatever you want, as long as it makes someone else’s life a little better. Kurt Vonnegut said it best: “There’s only one rule I know of: goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
One simple fact: The world is what we make it.
One simple choice: Why trade in arms – when there is chocolate?
One simple rule: Be kind. (Goddamn it!)
One simple plan: Today, a little better than yesterday. Here’s a how-to:
1) First of all, start to think for yourself.
Let’s assume for now that it’s okay if you believe in your teacher and your boss, your mum and your prophets, your media outlets and your politicians, and, of course, your favorite bloggers. But you’ve also gotta think for yourself, or we won’t get anywhere.
2) Trust your judgment.
Most things are good just as they are. Still, there are some things that are going wrong – in society at large, and maybe also in your personal life. Take notice of these things. Don’t ignore them anymore. Look at them carefully. Don’t doubt your judgment: Just because something is considered “normal,” it doesn’t mean you cannot change it.
As a human being, you have certain rights, and all you have to do is to exercise them: It’s okay for you to change the definition of “normal,” just as it’s okay for you to change the rules you are playing by. Hey, it’s even okay for you to leave the stadium altogether and invent a whole different ball game.
3) Don’t overthink, act!
Start doing fewer things that suck and more things that help.
4) Figure it out as you go.
The easiest trick to induce massive change? Bootstrapping! No need to figure everything out right from the start, no need to be flawless: You don’t have to be perfect, nor do you have to be a shining example in everything you do, nor do you have to do everything better than everybody else.
Just start with one thing, even if it’s apparently a small thing. It’s a gazillion times better to make a small change for good than no change at all.
- Stop working for an arms producer and get a job in a chocolate factory. (Or convince your boss that he’d better develop rockets to go to space than to bomb Iran.)
- Fly one time less per year, or bike one day a week instead of taking the car. (Carbon-offsetting is a nice option, too. On the other hand, consciously and voluntarily limiting yourself can be beneficial in so many ways that I highly recommend giving it a try.)
- Walk around smiling, or walk with flowers, and compliment others on what they are doing right instead of merely criticizing what they are doing wrong. (You are reading the secret information hidden in brackets! That’s great! You totally rock!)
- Cook one single dinner that doesn’t contain any preprocessed ingredients. Just one. (If it’s tasty, you are allowed to cook another one later. Not sure how to get started? Here’s a recipe for you!)
Remember: You don’t need to know all the details. You don’t need to paint the big picture. Just start by doing a little better than yesterday!
5) Invite one friend to do the same.
Invite her to think for herself, look around and look inside herself, trust her judgment, and do one thing better, kinder, more lovingly than before.
When I write invite I literally mean, “invite.” Don’t do it as an aside. It’s an important thing after all, so why not celebrate it as such?
Here’s an idea: Invite your friend for dinner at a restaurant you have never been to. Get some champagne or some beer or some good old tap water. Give ridiculously huge tips to the waiter, get flowers from the street vendor, and be friendly to everybody you meet. Then, propose your friend to do the same.
This is how a kinder world happens.
6) Create a movement.
A movement can take many forms. One I like is the Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ): A space that eludes formal structures of control and that often exists in the shadows. Not in a sinister sense, of course! TAZs as I prefer them are places of merry community, and they can be built by anybody. Actually, you have probably been at one during some time of your life:
- A TAZ is the tree house where the kids hide with their friends during endless summers.
- It’s the unheralded party behind closed doors that continues well after sunrise.
- It’s outdoor music festivals, guerrilla knitting, pirate cinema evenings; it’s topless dancing at a serious dinner party, traveling straight-edge through the opium dens of the Golden Triangle, wild-camping in the woods or in your neighbor’s garden; it’s painting a graffiti saying “Is this all that you want?” on the walls of jails and car dealerships, poetry slams in city council meetings, free hugs in front of your local police station.
TAZs are non-hierarchical, co-operative and non-dogmatic, and they are as full of love and friendliness as you want them to be.
7) Rinse and repeat.
Whatever you do, don’t listen to me or your friends or the naysayers you might meet on your way. Just do a bit more of what’s right, and a bit less of what’s wrong.
|Fabian is a writer, thinker, artist, activist and idler, who is traveling the world at his own pace. If you’re up for a friendly rebellion, join him in living beyond rules.|
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