Ringing True: The Numbers
“The Numbers” is the name of the text of the religion featured in the book Ringing True. Responding to a world driven by self-interest and realizing that current religions are dead ends in terms of creating human unity, Justin Raines and Shelby Mirabeau create a non-prescriptive religion that later comes to be called Ringing True.
Our world is on a path of self-destruction and the primary cause is the single-minded pursuit of self-interest on the part of billions of individuals at the expense of the human community. One might say that this is the modern version of the struggle between good and evil.
Over the centuries, people have attempted to define good and evil by means of religious texts and legal precepts. These efforts have failed. The concepts have become so muddled that no one understands them anymore. The good use evil to advance their causes; the evil cloak their activities under a facade of goodness. A new approach is necessary.
We define good as what occurs when an individual balances three basic responsibilities in daily life: responsibility to oneself, responsibility to others and responsibility to the human community. The result of good is the nourishment of the human spirit and the validation of human life. We define evil as actions that reflect an imbalance of responsibility to self, responsibility to others and responsibility to the human community. The result of evil is damage to the human spirit and harm to human life.
Good or evil are chosen. Choices have consequences. We are all responsible for our choices and the consequences. This is the nature of life.
Some believe in a higher power, or God; some do not; others are on the fence. It is sad that the human race has engaged in endless war and unnecessary strife because one group believes their God is the only God and that nonbelievers should be converted, punished, or even exterminated.
Any belief in a higher power that creates an imbalance of responsibility is fundamentally evil. The belief in God is a personal truth, not a universal truth, and neither believers nor nonbelievers should claim superiority in the matter. All human beings are flawed, so the notion of perfect certainty is absurd. Learn to live with it.
Most of the world’s religions have become corrupt, for various reasons. In a tribute to the human spirit, some people have managed to rise above the corruption and find good in various faiths. We are supportive of any religious belief that validates responsible living. We are not supportive of any religion that validates evil in any form, and any religion that permits killing in its name is to be avoided by all responsible people.
Some religions advance the notion that love for all humanity is the key to paradise on earth. While we accept the power of love as real, right now we would be happy if human beings would just stop killing each other.
The fear of death has been a misguided motivation throughout human history and has created much evil. It’s all pretty silly, really. Why fear something you know is going to happen sooner or later, anyway?
Some fear the afterlife. We do not know if there will be an afterlife and do not find it a compelling reason for fear. Why not wait until you get there?
We would encourage people everywhere to replace fear of death with the desire to experience life and its wonderful possibilities and allow the afterlife to take care of itself.
Throughout human history, individuals or groups, motivated by imbalanced self-interest, have sought and achieved power over other people. False and arbitrary notions of superiority based on notions such as ancestry, culture, gender, color, race, age or wealth have created tremendous evil. Arbitrary exclusion of this kind creates resentment and breeds deeper divisions that seem to defy resolution.
People are different, not better or worse, and every human being has a fundamental right to manifest their individuality, as long as they do not harm others in the process. This cannot happen if certain groups oppress or exclude people based on arbitrary distinctions grounded in the insecurity of the oppressing group.
We believe it is fundamentally evil for any person or group to exercise power over another without freely-given assent. Power should never be achieved through the consequence of threat, manipulation or fear. These precepts apply to all human relationships and endeavors.
Many religions observe a Sabbath: a day for reflection on the broader meaning of existence and freedom from work. Having a fixed day for reflection is no longer practical in the modern world, given the diversity of body clocks, cultural norms and business schedules.
Human beings need time for reflection and rest if they are to lead balanced lives. We encourage every person to set aside a time each week for this purpose, according to his or her own preferences.
Communication is the means by which we choose or fail to choose to accept our responsibilities to others and to our community. Most human communication leaves much to be desired.
While there are many forms of communication, its highest purpose is to help others make choices that are true to the three responsibilities. Communication that attempts to mislead, misguide or manipulate others is fundamentally evil.
Be wary of any communication that seems to carry the weight of authority or certainty, as the person communicating usually has an inflated sense of self-importance and is therefore imbalanced. Skeptical humility is the proper attitude toward those trying to convince you of their views. On the other hand, if you choose to be manipulated, that is your responsibility, and don’t blame others if you become imbalanced in the process.
The history of the human race is filled with war, murder and unspeakable acts of violence, committed by individuals acting alone or under the authority of the state or other organization. These acts are a sad commentary on the human condition. Human progress will depend greatly on working to prevent and eliminate such actions from our future.
No responsible person can possibly initiate an act of violence or harm against other people. Every such act is a failure of the human race.
If you encounter a person who wishes to do harm to you or your fellow human beings, you have the right to protect yourself and your fellows, even if it means having to end the life of the evildoer. Do all you can to avoid these situations or respond nonviolently, but if push comes to shove and it’s either the evildoer or you, defend yourselves, your fellows and the human community, then reflect on the situation to learn how it could have been prevented.
Openness to learning is the key to responsible living. We have much to learn about each other, our world, ourselves. We encourage free and open education for all, with the ever-present goal of teaching children and adults how to make responsible choices. All of us have a responsibility to learn every day of our lives.
We suggest that no teaching, including this one, be presented as absolute fact, but as “theory” or something along the lines of, “this is the truth we are currently using, because it is useful.”
While the sciences have made significant contributions to human progress, the sciences have also made the destruction of the human race a real possibility. There is a good reason for this: science is created by human beings, with all their weaknesses. While we should not fear scientific and technological progress, we should avoid automatically accepting progress as a positive development. The real value of any human endeavor lies in how far it advances the human condition.
Science is but one way to view the world and not the ultimate truth. Artistic, instinctive and spiritual interpretations of reality have just as much validity and should not be discounted simply because they are not provable through scientific method. We repeat: the real value of any human endeavor lies in how far it advances the human condition.
It is fair to say that the human race has confused the meaning of work as thoroughly as it has confused the meaning of good and evil. The true nature of work has been further compromised by chaotic designations of financial value. Thus we live in a world where the people who feed us, teach us and protect us earn far less than those who entertain us, those who scheme for power and those willing to exploit innocence.
For many people living in industrialized cultures, work is often disconnected from meaning through specialization and the invisible coercion of the economic system. For many people living in agricultural societies, work is inherently tied to survival. What is ignored in both is that every human being has a unique contribution to make for themselves, for others and for the world. Work does not have to be meaningless: it can be the ultimate expression of responsibility. All forms of responsible work should be honored.
Each person will find their own meaning in their work, and the value of work should be measured not only by how far it advances the human condition but also by how much satisfaction and meaning it brings to the individual doing the work. True work nourishes the human soul.
We all have a responsibility to each other, but a special responsibility to our children, for they are the future and the measure of our efforts.
Parents and caregivers should orient their teaching toward providing truthful information and allow children to experience choices and consequences while shielding them from excessive danger. This is a difficult balancing act.
There are many kinds of families and many kinds of relationships in our diverse world. As long as the people in those families and relationships balance the three responsibilities, there should be no interference.
In addition, all people have a special responsibility to future generations to keep the planet itself a desirable place to live and conserve resources accordingly. After centuries of environmental destruction based on blind self-interest, it is time for us to take responsibility and avoid actions that poison the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land that provides our nourishment.
The people responsible for these thoughts are average people. We make no claims otherwise. We have not been sent from God or by the aliens. We are neither prophets nor saviors. This text is not sacred; it was written by human hands. We seek no power or adulation.
We are simple people trying to stop the human race from destroying itself, which we believe is inevitable if we continue on the path of irresponsible self-interest. Like many of you, we feel the same fears that fuel self-interest and we know how easy it would be to withdraw into our shells and let the world take care of itself. We have chosen to try to overcome those fears, for we believe that our only hope is to reach out to the human community and begin to build a future with you.
©2010 by Robert Morrow
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