The Weekly Dream: A Different Set of Rules
“A man gots to have a code”
-Omar, The Wire
“If you don’t have any parameters, you got nothing”
-Armand Asante, Gotti
Question of the Week: What things make up your code?
Whether you realize it or not, we all live by various codes of behavior or conduct; guidelines and rules that instruct us as to how to live or how to approach various situations. In fact, life in civilized society demands it. They are rules in action and there are consequences for violating the code. The Sicilian mafia code was called Omerta, which meant that the people did not cooperate with the police about Mafia activities. Individuals who violated the code often found themselves in uncomfortable predicaments. There is a code to the streets, which we call Street Smarts or Common Sense, which governs dealings in the real world. Politics have a code. Like layers of an onion, the various codes we are subjected to intersect, so that we live a disciplined life. They tell us when something is right and wrong. Our own personal code takes the form of our conscience. But have you ever really given thought as to what comprises your code?
To tell the truth, besides wanting to leave something for posterity, The Weekly Dream was partly an outgrowth of an innate desire to articulate the rules I live by. Growing up, my code was formed by my spiritual beliefs, my family tradition, books, and experience. By sharing my thoughts and perspective, I hoped to perfect the Code by eliciting insight from the outside.
The Nature of Codes
Rules apply in various situations and circumstances. However, what gives codes life is the fact that they are lived. What good is having a code if you do not apply it in the appropriate situation? Now the consequences of not keeping your code may not be life and death, but it may show a lack of character or integrity. Confucius said that when a person knows what is right, but does not do it, it is weakness. There is no hope for that person. People who do not have a code are capable of anything, they are worse than animals. At least animals have consistency in behavior.
As adults, more and more we are required to police ourselves and make sure we are living lives consistent with our internal law. For instance, if you profess to be Christian, then you must study our code book and seek to order your life accordingly. Because codes are a lifestyle.
Stick to the Script
Rules can change, but we are seeking something deeper-principles. Principles apply in every situation. They are constants, like the Ten Commandments. It is a rock that grounds your code. I challenge everyone to write out their codes: Rules and Principles. What set of rules do you play by? What do you believe? When you do something inconsistent to that, how do you feel?
For instance, I seek to live a life where truth and peace is manifested, consistent with the mandates of my spirituality. Therefore, I try to avoid lying, deception, unnecessary and unproductive conflict. I try to be generous and walk in love-even towards my enemies. These are lofty goals, but that is where my code demands I go. I might miss it sometimes, but having that code lets me know what I can and cannot do.
Articulating the code will ensure that you maintain your integrity on the stairway to success.