We chose the name Zherg quite arbitrarily. It occurred to us as a syllable that sounded distinctive, but innocuous and unassuming enough not to unduly divert attention from the issues. As indicated by the version number, we look forward to any appropriate revisions to improve or adapt this document.
Existence is an enormous and amazing thing, and ever greater wonders and adventures surely lie ahead, particularly if we play our cards wisely. There are also tragic realities, and there's the potential for greater tragedies to befall our earthly enterprise, particularly if we choose poorly.
Given these circumstances, and given our desire to continuously improve life whatever the circumstances, we have an inclination to find new ways, coexisting with the ever-present tendency to retain existing ways.
Some of the ways proposed in this document may at first seem uncomfortably novel or odd. We ask that you consider them seriously, think them through. We believe you'll find they make good sense. Major changes tend to take some getting used to, but we aim to help form a plan that's universally acceptable and beneficial.
It may feel too soon to implement these things, as if it may take us a few more years, or decades, or centuries to become ready for them. Cultural change does take time, but its pace can vary significantly with changes in technology, connectedness, and many subtle factors. Our sustenance and continued progress seem to depend, to significant degrees, on our consciously reassessing the basic values and methods by which we order our activities. In our current assessment, it will behoove us on this planet to have this conversation and make these changes.
Maybe taking on so many novelties at once seems like too much. Could we take on some of them before others? Yes, but in fact each of these proposals reflects ideas and practices that have been around for many years without being adopted in very full, explicit ways on large scales. Whatever value this document may contribute seems likely to come largely from simply the gathering together of these various elements. The issues all seem highly interconnected. Combining them like this can help them gain a traction that has eluded them separately.
We offer this in a bid to put a set of helpful, wide-ranging plans and ideas into a convenient form. We perceive that implementation of such plans and ideas will create more optimal conditions for future breakthroughs in technologies, etc., while in the meantime improving living conditions in many ways and alleviating many problems. Implementation will of course take some amount of time and effort - another reason for us to move forward now with the process of discussing this and solidifying consensus.
So, the feeling that it's too soon to implement these ideas is to be expected, given the large scope of the changes they encompass, but we ultimately find this objection unwarranted. We expect there may also be reservations in the opposite direction - concerns that it's too late, that opportunities for massively positive outcomes have already been closed off, or that such ideas as these would have been implemented already if it were possible. We see no reason to adopt such fatalisms. We may certainly regret not doing this years or decades ago; we can imagine that if we had, many opportunities we ended up missing could have born fruit; much pain could have been averted. But now, let us start from where we are, and try to make the best world we can.
We're fascinated by the idea of beings - extraterrestrial, extradimensional, etc - who might communicate or interact with us, perhaps in ways very different from how we earthlings communicate and interact with each other. If we entertain this idea, then these beings, though they may not be constrained by the familiar limitations that go with living on Earth, may have their own limitations, their own specific structures, their own journeys in which they're engaged.
Now, let's consider the special case of a being or beings vastly more capable than we are, in terms of their ability to affect our earthly affairs, such that they would be able to communicate with us in clear, unambiguous ways (meaning we could all agree about what they're saying), and such that they would be able to intervene in the world and solve our material challenges for us. We don't seem to observe these things happening, suggesting that beings who are vastly more capable than we are, and who are concerned with us, either a) don't exist, or b) expect and want us to proceed as if they may not exist. In either case, the task falls to us to figure out what to do, how to live. Truly devoting ourselves to the will of any actual deity, in other words, seems to entail devoting ourselves to refining our own will, and refining our knowledge and our capacities. Maybe we'll believe or strongly suspect that the deities exist, but we can accept that they're leaving it to us to figure a lot out. We recognize that if they're helping us and communicating with us, they're doing so in numerous, diverse ways, and haven't given us all the cheat codes or an all-purpose instruction manual for life. We participate in the writing of our codes and manuals, using our ever-changing and -expanding senses, knowledge, capacities.
We may, at some point in this incarnation or in this civilization, gain access to capabilities vastly greater than our current ones, if we can establish trajectories conducive to developing these capabilities. This will mean collaboratively advancing our minds, bodies, cultures, sciences, and technologies.
There are many techniques that people have found to be effective at helping us live more happily, healthily, and prosperously. And practicing these techniques can increase our chances of establishing more interesting, joyful long-term trajectories. We’re equipped with very complex, sophisticated biological equipment - intricate, subtle, living instruments, whose performance depends significantly on the tuning, training, and practicing that we do with them, and on how we feed and maintain them. Our bodies and minds are capable of sublime experiences and feats. We’ve had many self-defeating tendencies, but we’ve learned a lot about how to be more effective in generating positive outcomes. We’ve learned about the importance of determination, or resolve, or grit, and also about the functions of letting go of agendas, being flexible, opening to the unknown and to raw experience. We appreciate the value of moving and dancing and stretching, and also the value of calmness, relaxation, and deep inner experiences that can come when the body is still. Art, music, humor, fellowship with others, time to oneself, intellectual explorations, physical challenges, and vital absorbing creative interests - these can all help produce greater well-being. And we'll keep generating new life-enhancing wisdom, codes, and techniques for as long as we're around.
There are reasons to think it could be helpful to discuss ways to set or express our most basic values, our largest purposes or goals. Such a general value system, or ethical or moral code, won't by itself provide solutions to every conundrum and dilemma and challenge. But it could assist us in the process of finding and implementing solutions. It could help us clarify and optimize our plans and actions, individually and in coordination with each other. It could help us change many counterproductive habits and tendencies that are embedded, explicitly and implicitly, in our languages, systems, traditions, habits.
In order to accomplish these ends, we'll want our code to make as strong or meaningful a statement as possible, while remaining as generally applicable as possible.
We propose this ethic: We value everyone's interests (or well-being). In other words, we value everyone.
Adopting this ethic doesn't imply that we'll know to what extent everyone's interests or well-being are at stake in a given situation, or that we'll know with any confidence which course of action will best serve everyone. No general value system, or general ethical philosophy, will provide solutions to all unknowns. But we can apply this ethic to whatever extent we can, with whatever information we have.
Adopting this ethic doesn't imply that we'll be able to totally eliminate pain or suffering, or that all beings will be able to realize their fullest potential. But with this ethic as a shared basic principle, we can cooperate more efficiently to move toward these goals.
Adversarial games, in which one's efforts are pitted against others', can serve as handy and engaging ways of exercising certain faculties. The challenges of contending against the intentions of others can help us learn about ourselves, about others, about emotions, etc. These can be fine reasons to participate in instances of friendly competition with no real stakes. Beyond these instances, in the larger social scheme, let us align and harmonize our intentions and efforts. Let us work and organize cooperatively to sustain and enrich our lives.
May each of us make, or renew, a resolution to practice respect, compassion, and consideration toward all beings - including those we're closest to. As our knowledge and technologies advance, we can become more and more able to care about, and care for, more and more beings.
In the important, consequential matters of our world, in the activities by which we organize ourselves and provide for our well-being, we advocate ceasing to compete and contend against each other.
The large extent to which competition and contention have factored into our activities means that we can free up enormous energies that we’ve been directing toward securing advantages relative to each other. A massive movement toward cooperation, away from contention, is sure to come as an enormous emotional relief and delight, as we’re no longer impelled to gain favor within unpleasant or byzantine systems and can more freely chart our courses toward ever greater harmony and happiness. We can share much cultural, scientific and technological information that we’ve kept hidden and restricted, allowing education and technological/developmental progress to proceed far more efficiently.
But the large extent to which competition and contention have factored into our activities also means that our competitive systems have become so entrenched that it’s been very difficult for anyone to completely opt out of them. We can practice compassion and cooperation, and make the best of our circumstances, but we seem bound to remain constrained by these systems until we make a coordinated effort on a planetary scale to form a new consensus for a new way. This document is an attempt to offer a positive vision for such a consensus.
We encourage everyone to be proactive, to take the initiative, to lead, in any domains where one finds oneself inspired to do so. We value constructive leadership and will freely follow and help. Everyone will freely decide how to participate. We will respect each other’s integrity and autonomy.
If we value and appreciate everyone, and endeavor to continuously generate happiness and prosperity, then we can agree to dispense with the routine custom of helping others on the condition of, or in exchange for, some specific help rendered in return. We'll trade whatever blessings we can in any interaction, in a spirit of friendship, kinship, and common cause, blessings flowing not to compensate for each other, but as reflections of the preciousness of all parts of our living world. All for one, and one for all, can supplant tit for tat.
We'll want to keep track of much of what we do, and keep track of the movements of many objects - not in order to keep score, but simply because knowing what's happening will help us continuously improve our processes.
There are profoundly positive possibilities in areas where we've only availed ourselves of the opportunities to a very limited extent, as yet. As a major example of this, significant gains in health and well-being can be expected from more widespread knowledge about, and access to, many medicinal plants and compounds. Marijuana, MDMA, and psychedelics are among those that can help induce fantastically healing and informative effects and experiences. Let's support the cultivation and synthesis of these plants and compounds, and let's help facilitate optimal conditions for their intelligent, responsible, and sacramental use.
Please feel free to copy and share far and wide and to let us know if you’d make any changes or additions to the text.
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