William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

How To Live: Principles and Precepts

Life is an arbitrary and random process, and one way to keep it from being overwhelmingly arbitrary is to set up rules for yourself. You know in advance they will not apply in all situations, and eventually you will have to break all of them; but they are a stay against disorder.

It is better to use your own rules than to blindly accept those of others. If you feel that the other guy has a ticket to unscrew the inscrutable, fine. Do whatever he says. In the long run, you are going to have to face yourself in the mirror every day. Not having complete ownership of your principles is worse than being wrong. I’d prefer to be an honest doof than a perfect sell out.

A Pilgrim’s Way–R. Kipling
I do not look for holy saints to guide me on my way,
Or male and female devilkins to lead my feet astray.
If these are added, I rejoice—if not, I shall not mind,
So long as I have leave and choice to meet my fellow-kind.
For as we come and as we go (and deadly-soon go we!)
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

Thus I will honour pious men whose virtue shines so bright
(Though none are more amazed than I when I by chance do right),
And I will pity foolish men for woe their sins have bred
(Though ninety-nine per cent. of mine I brought on my own head).
And, Amorite or Eremite, or General Averagee,
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

And when they bore me overmuch, I will not shake mine ears,
Recalling many thousand such whom I have bored to tears.
And when they labour to impress, I will not doubt nor scoff;
Since I myself have done no less and—sometimes pulled it off.
Yea, as we are and we are not, and we pretend to be,
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

And when they work me random wrong, as oftentimes hath been,
I will not cherish hate too long (my hands are none too clean).
And when they do me random good I will not feign surprise.
No more than those whom I have cheered with wayside charities.
But, as we give and as we take—whate’er our takings be—
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

But when I meet with frantic folk who sinfully declare
There is no pardon for their sin, the same I will not spare
Till I have proved that Heaven and Hell which in our hearts we have
Show nothing irredeemable on either side of the grave.
For as we live and as we die—if utter Death there be—
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

Deliver me from every pride—the Middle, High, and Low—
That bars me from a brother’s side, whatever pride he show.
And purge me from all heresies of thought and speech and pen
That bid me judge him otherwise than I am judged. Amen!
That I may sing of Crowd or King or road-borne company,
That I may labour in my day, vocation and degree,
To prove the same in deed and name, and hold unshakenly
(Where’er I go, whate’er I know, whoe’er my neighbor be)
This single faith in Life and Death and to Eternity:
“The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!”

From The Simple Art of Murder–R. Chandler

But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. … He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things. He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness. The story is his adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in.

If there were enough like him, I think the world would be a very safe place to live in, and yet not too dull to be worth living in.

1. Act with honor and integrity.
2. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
3. Take responsibility for your actions.
4. The consequences of your actions will demonstrate the rightness of your actions.
5. Compassion and empathy are good, but not at the expense of effectiveness.
6. Do the job.
7. Work as if you will live for a thousand years, and as if you knew you would die tomorrow.
8. There is neither man’s work or woman’s work, there is just work.
9. The only person you need to please is yourself.
10. As long as you don’t harm others, do what you will.
11. People are not means to an end.
12. Innocent people should not be hurt unnecessarily.
13. Evil people merit elegant yet pointed retribution.
14. Lower the volume.
15. Don’t undress in public.
16. Justify your existence. That goal should be more than self-aggrandizement or merely making money.
17. Leave a place a little better than you found it.
18. Be loyal to your friends.
19. Cut slack as you would have slack cut.
20. Silence is usually the best response.

Only when love and need are one, and work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever truly done, for Heaven and the future’s sakes. —Robert Frost

A man who, at need, would gather his lances at his back and challenge a crowned head for the sake of one man wronged. —George MacDonald Fraizer

From Marko, This, and this:

From Tgace, This:

From Brigid, This:

From Kim, This:

First off, I think respect for persons ought to be absolutely central to our interactions with each other, every day and in every way. I’m with Kant on that one. People have the potential to do wonderful things — even of they haven’t delivered on that promise yet — and they have the potential to feel really bad if treated poorly by others. There’s never a good reason to go out of your way to treat someone poorly, and the extra effort it may take to treat the other people you encounter as actual human beings rather than just obstacles in your path is almost always worth it. (Sometimes the value comes in what kind of person it makes you to treat others well, but that’s still value-added.)


Let’s remember, … that respect for persons includes respect for oneself.

From Xavier, from his Navy days

A Master Chief never assumes anything. He either knows or doesn’t know. No guessing. No assumptions. No excuses.

If a Master Chief tells you to “know” something, he means that you should personally verify it. Only then can you know. If the thing in question has the potential to change, to know means you kept it under your control while you knew so it could not change. Otherwise you must re-verify, because you do not know. That is knowing.

If I assumed a weapon was loaded when it was not, or unloaded when it was, clean when it was dirty, ready to fire when it was broken, the ass chewing would be equally as severe, because I did not know.

In the Chief’s opinion, “All guns are always loaded” is an assumption, something only a recruit would say. As such, it has no place in something as serious as guns, sailing, flying, war, or any endeavor that may place lives at risk.

Be as decent as you can. Don’t believe without evidence. Treat things divine with marked respect, and don’t have anything to do with them. Do not trust humanity without collateral security, it will play you some scurvy trick. Remember that it hurts no one to be treated as an enemy entitled to respect until he prove himself a friend worthy of affection. Cultivate a taste for distasteful truths. And, finally, most important of all, endeavor to see things as they are, not as they ought to be.

Ambrose Bierce

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.

Marcus Aurelius


  1. I am stealing quite a bit of this for myself. Thank you.

    Comment by jaye — Tuesday, 27, October, 2009 @ 02:23 | Reply

  2. […] code of conduct | Leave a Comment  An excellent post from a friend of this blog over at; William The Coroner’s Forensic Files. It’s about living a life “worth believing […]

    Pingback by How To Live: Principles and Precepts « the things worth believing in — Wednesday, 18, November, 2009 @ 02:25 | Reply

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