A model to help live and let live

May 29, 2013 by Joshua
in Exercises, Freedom, Models, Nonjudgment, Tips

[This post is part of a series on “Mental models and beliefs: an exercise to identify yours.” If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]

One of the things I love most about where I live, the West Village, is its diversity. And not just in the things people most talk about, like skin color, where they’re from, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and a few others. As the neighborhood continues to gentrify that diversity seems to decrease. I feel like here people support or at least tolerate what others do as long as you aren’t hurting anyone. That diversity seems intact.

I like that mutual support.

A model to live and let live: If everyone involved is adult, I support them doing what they agree to.

To me, if everyone involved in an activity is an adult and everyone agrees, that’s all I need to know. What they keep private is their business and doesn’t affect me. I respect their privacy. Many behaviors I would never do myself I have no problem supporting others doing if everyone involved is an adult who agrees to do it. Why should I mind?

I support what adults doing what they agree to.

If they try to force values and behavior on me and I don’t agree, or anyone else who doesn’t agree or isn’t adult, well then that’s not only involving only consenting adults so I may resist. I don’t see that happening much in my neighborhood. That happens more in legislative bodies and groups that lobby them.

Come to think of it, supporting consenting adults is a strategy. It’s pretty close to the Golden Rule of treating others as you want them to treat you. I’m surprised how difficult a time some people have following a strategy so universally espoused.

Since strategies come from models, I should distill the model leading to this strategy from the strategy (you can probably see me thinking as I write). When you believe the model that leads to the strategy, you don’t try to do the strategy, you just do it because it feels like that natural way to live your life best by how you perceive your environment.

On thinking about it, the model that leads to the strategy of supporting what adults agree to is that I don’t believe I know better than another adult how they should live their life. To that I’ll add that if someone keeps something private it’s not my business. So there’s today’s model:

I don’t believe I know better than another adult how they should live their life and if someone keeps something private it’s not my business.

From there follows the strategy of supporting adults doing what they agree to. I can only suppose that people who impose their values and beliefs on others do believe they know better how others should live, even when it doesn’t affect them. I’ve felt that way before. It made me feel right, even righteous and superior, inside, but it made me feel terrible in interactions with people I disagreed with and led me to provoke a lot of arguments. For that matter, I think it reduced my ability to influence the people I wanted to influence.

Come to think of it, adopting this belief has improved my life more than most others. It feels like one of my major components of my concept of maturity. But I haven’t thought that idea through, nor fully considered how I would rank the contributions to my life of different beliefs.

When I use this belief

I use this belief when I learn of people doing things I wouldn’t do myself. I ask myself if everyone involved is an adult and agrees. If so, I move on to other things.

What this belief replaces

This belief replaces interfering with other consenting adults minding their business with not interfering. It replaces telling other people what to do and confrontation with living your life as best you can.

Where this belief leads

This belief leads to understanding, mutual support, peaceful coexistence, diversity, and living and letting live.

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