“A BILL OF ASSERTIVE RIGHTS

I: You have the right to judge your own behavior, thoughts, and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself.

II: You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behavior.

III: You have the right to judge if you are responsible for finding solutions to other people’s problems.

IV: You have the right to change your mind.

V: You have the right to make mistakes—and be responsible for them.

VI: You have the right to say, “I don’t know.”

VII: You have the right to be independent of the goodwill of others before coping with them.

VIII: You have the right to be illogical in making decisions.

IX: You have the right to say, “I don’t understand.”

X: You have the right to say, “I don’t care.”

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY NO, WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY”


Original author: Manuel J Smith.


...I learned these from a support group I attend, but was thinking of how some of these apply towards anyone who is in a situation where they are leaving behind religious (childish) ways, and learning, embracing a new way of life. For anyone dealing with overbearing, controlling, abusive, or pushy people who want them to conform. For anyone who feels trapped by others...

Discussion topic: pretty open here, but I guess I'm curious in general what you guys think and how some or all of these have applied to you in your own journey, towards Atheism or otherwise...

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I: You have the right to judge your own behavior, thoughts, and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself. ~Disagree. I believe you have the obligation to do so, not just the right.

II: You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behavior. ~Depends. If your behavior winds up affecting the lives of others, then you definitely need a reason. If you decide to walk on your hands up to the counter at McDonalds, then no, you don't need a reason.

III: You have the right to judge if you are responsible for finding solutions to other people’s problems. ~Agreed, provided that you first find out if you are welcome to try and help.

IV: You have the right to change your mind. ~Agreed, provided that you have evidence, no matter how insignificant, to justify the change.

V: You have the right to make mistakes—and be responsible for them. Agreed.

VI: You have the right to say, “I don’t know.” ~Agreed, and encouraged.

VII: You have the right to be independent of the goodwill of others before coping with them. ~Agreed.

VIII: You have the right to be illogical in making decisions. ~Depends. If the decision will affect the lives of others significantly, then you must use logic. Otherwise, Knock yourself out. Film it, and make the rest of us laugh.

IX: You have the right to say, “I don’t understand.” ~Agreed, And encouraged.

X: You have the right to say, “I don’t care.” ~Depends. If the topic affects the lives of others, then you MUST examine the argument. If it doesn't, then who cares.

I believe that as long as we are not alone on this planet, then we must act accordingly. Human Suffering, if avoidable, is unacceptable, and if it isn't avoidable, such as in the case of a natural disaster, then it is the duty of a conscientious human being to help as much as their ability allows. From donating a dollar, to administering first aid. We are responsible for the lives of others as much as it is within our abilities to affect. We are a social species, and if we do not do everything we can to protect and ensure the survival of our society, then we are no better than those who caused the downfall in the first place.

Nearly 7 billion people on this planet. That's far more than enough people to make sure everyone is alright and happy. Altruism isn't just an instruction from your genes, or a familial instinct. It's a method that can be used to sustain and improve the lives of everyone on the planet. The problem with it is that it can't carry freeloaders. People who spend their entire lives living off other people without giving the same amount in return. I'm not talking about the "welfare queen" which is a fucking joke. I'm talking about the wealthy people. Business men, Politicians, Holy leaders, Dictators, movie stars, etc. These people are on top because other people put them their. There is no lone wolf. Nobody does anything themselves, it is all done on the backs of others. Give them some help when you get ahead.

I wasn't responding from an anti-releigious standpoint, I was responding from a point which I believe to be as human as I can be. Humbly powerful, and powerfully humble. I believe that anything that is divisive to any group of human beings for any reason that doesn't have any real ill effects on the lives of others, is absolutely meaningless and should be torn down.

As a human being, my first instinct is to tribalism. That's natural. The next logical step in that line of thinking is deciding who's in the tribe. I've decided that the human race constitutes my tribe. And anyone who wants to keep people out of the tribe for any reason, is the one who really deserves to be kicked out of the tribe.

Let's scream at each other about Kindle versus iPad, solar versus nuclear, Republican versus Libertarian, Garth Brooks versus Sun Ra— but when your house is on fire, I'll be there to help. ~Penn Jillett.

"The problem with it is that it can't carry freeloaders."  - freeloaders.  People who take but don't give, or people who take advantage of people who aren't assertive, people who ride roughshod over the decency and politeness of others.  What do we do about these people?  We could...

  • refuse to cooperate with them 
  • reject them 
  • become assertive 
  • be the adult 
  • show some balls 
  • teach them the right way to behave - show them that enlightened self-interest is the way forward.

Change "Enlightened Self-Interest" to "Enlightened Selflessness" and I may agree with you. Like I said, nobody does anything alone. Even if you think you're all alone, you're not. You may not have anyone you know personally, but you have on average close to 500 people that do things for you throughout the week, and you are one of those 500 for at least 500 other people. Unless you live like Tom Hanks in Castaway, then you are part of a social hive, and self-interest will poison the rest of the hive.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't do things that you want, I'm saying that you should do so while taking into account everyone around you. Buying a new car? Before looking at the Ford Fuckyoumobile, why not checking out the specs on a hybrid or two. After all, you're not the only one who breathes. Eating out? Check out the portion size. Don't buy it if you aren't going to eat all of it. World hunger isn't just in Africa, it's in your home town. It's just swept under the rug so you don't have to be bothered with other people's suffering. Little things make a big difference. Also, check out some online petitions, and try to affect public policy for the better.

I can't stand it when people sigh and say there's nothing you can do about it. You can. You don't even have to change your lifestyle significantly to make a difference. It's millions of people doing little things. Like water molecules carving out a canyon. Yeah, it may take a while, but there's really nothing that can stop it provided that it's given enough time.

@H3xx - I agree with what you say but I'd change it back to "enlightened self-interest".  After all - the question is "what's in it for me?" and that's OK.  Since we're all interconnected, it tends to go well if we're all happy.  Connectedness is probably the supreme happiness.  This is because we're a social species.  It's not a zero-sum game by any means. 

@Belle - philosophical discussions about ethics usually seem to be very impersonal.  I prefer the poem by Benjamin Zephaniah, "Miss World"  -

beauty is about how you greet
de everyday people dat you meet

In my experience, it works well on the micro level as well as the macro. I act as selflessly as I reasonably can, without hurting myself in the process. That's the whole point. Use the excess that you don't need for other people. If you're at rock bottom, barely scraping enough together for your expenses, then I don't expect you to make any donations. I do expect you to stop and help someone if they drop their belongings. I do expect you to return a lost wallet. I don't expect you to give up the last of your food for a homeless person. But I would admire you if you did, and do what I can to help.

You never know, they might turn out to be a lucky elf or something. 

Never underestimate the power of reputation.  If we behave well, other people get to hear about it, especially if you live in a small town.  Also, it's nice to get a cheery wave and hello from someone every time they see you. 

Xl: You a right to say ' I am not interested!' and not be charged for 'it'.

Xll: You have a right to ask questions, disrespect trolls, and demand evidence for claims!

Xlll: If the sign or your door says 'do not disturb', this gives you the right to lose your 'dogs of war!'

XlV: If someone says 'stop talking!', you have the right to say, 'you first!'.

I've been thinking about the healthy functioning of the ego and how it works when we have a healthy attitude towards other people. 

This is probably the number 1 problem area for human beings - how we relate to others.  Some people do it very well, many of us are fairly screwed up about it, and some people are a walking nightmare when it comes to relating to other people. 

Basically it's a minefield and it's important we get it right, from the point of view of our own happiness and morality.  We need to have a healthy sense of self, self-confidence and a healthy resilience in standing up to the storms which buffet us around whenever we deal with another person.  There are many people who act out their vulnerabilities in this area by punishing others as a defense - usually subconsciously.  (see also - neuroses).  There's also loneliness and desperation, and, oh, a whole rainbow of dysfunction. 

This "Bill of Assertive Rights" looks like a blueprint for healthy functioning as regards having the strength to stand up to all the difficulties we face in either direction - both from and to ourselves. 

I love it that I know I can say I am an atheist and don't have to justify or defend it.  Nobody has to be pleased with it.  I have defended it, such as when Facebook Lady told me that atheists don't exist.  The gist of my response was, "Yes, we do.  I am real and I don't believe in a deity.  So there you go."  Okay, so it took me many many hours of corresponding over several weeks but that is basically what I said, unapologetically, unwaveringly, and (for the most part), respectfully. 

It has been a long journey to get to this point.  There was a time when I was afraid of offending others just by being an atheist.  I have actually had people tell me that I should not say I am an atheist because it is offensive.  That is SO not my problem.  Saying I am an atheist says nothing about anybody else.  There are times when saying it would be offensive, I can imagine, such as suddenly shouting it out at a funeral, but I have not said it at those times.  I have said it when people have asked me or when others were stating their beliefs.  I have a right to state my non-belief in a deity.  I am so glad I know it.  I think it is good for believers to hear, and I know it is good for me to say.

This is a good set (with H3xx's adjustments) for someone recovering and needing to look at themselves in the mirror. However, almost the whole list falls apart if you have responsibilities beyond yourself. 

Imagine if Barack Obama used many of these, especially VIII, IX and X. He does not have these rights in any real sense, because a huge burden rests upon his shoulders. Same is true of the head of a household. If your grandparents are in your care, you have elected to give up the right to X and say"I don't care". 

Legal responsibilities come into play, ethical considerations, the list essentially ignores the social contract we have with all other humans (intentionally, probably).

Now, in the sense of someone who has been damaged by the social contract, and needs to recover their sense of self amongst the chaos of a life out of balance, this might be a good temporary support statement. When mom has a nervous breakdown, she needs to not be mom for a while and just look after herself. If she has young ones, the consequences of following this list long term could be devastating to her and her charges.

"VIII: You have the right to be illogical in making decisions —as long as you are responsible for your decisions."

This is the only change I would make.

 

@H3xx – excellent observations about them.

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