Digital rights activist, farmer, and occasional ‘Grateful Dead’ lyricist John Perry Barlow died earlier this year aged 70. When he was 30, Barlow wrote a list of 25 Principles of Adult Behaviour. The duck hunters among us may take umbrage at number 11, but there’s an argument to be made for each of these.
Imagine if everyone was open to ‘expanding their sense of the possible’, or your family embraced number 10 (never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong), how would things be different? Or would they remain the same?
Barlow’s list is arguably an expanded version of The Golden Rule (do unto others…). Read on, and ruminate on which ones you’d like to adopt, would appreciate others taking on board, or should be left off the list altogether.
John Perry Barlow’s Principles of Adult Behaviour
1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, never blame. Say nothing behind another’s back you’d be unwilling to say, in exactly the same tone and language, to his face.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you yourself can deliver.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Do not endanger it frivolously. And never endanger the life of another.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt).
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Never let your errors pass without admission.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.