In setting out to identify what could use adjusting in the world, I quickly realized I first needed to establish a baseline. After all, how can we possibly know which way to adjust things without first determining what “in perfect adjustment” would look like?

We essentially need a tuning fork for how to approach life. We have a commonly understood concept that comes pretty close to providing this - the basic notion of values.

I tend to think that values are best enunciated as succinctly as possible. There’s a reason Christ’s “Golden Rule” or Thomas Jefferson’s “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” have persisted for centuries.

The draft of a hierarchy of values I’ve arrived at isn’t quite so terse, but it’s still pretty brief. Essentially the idea I arrived it is that I value life, freedom, the sacred and compassion and roughly in that order. Naturally, there’s an ocean of potential discussion about possible exceptions to this order and instances when these values come in conflict with each other.

As a tool to navigate these conflicts, which have driven centuries of suffering, I offer this draft of a more detailed hierarchy of values:

  • Understanding that while life may be paramount, our strategies to preserve it should be almost as concerned with preserving freedom.
    • The preservation of things that are scarce, sacred and/or fragile, especially life and the systems that support it.
      • Striving to preserve life and maximal freedom without compromising compassion, empathy and generosity.
        • Pursuing a shift towards maximizing compassion, empathy and generosity without degrading freedom, life or the sacred.

    Is this in line with your own values? Where am I off? Let’s discuss.