I am a maker of lists. Shopping lists, to-do lists, topic lists for this blog. I often have three lists going at a time for various projects, short-term and long-range. I find lists help me to get things accomplished in an organized and timely way.
Living my personal values entails having a list of those values embedded in my mind. How else would they be available for application in daily circumstances? Without a developed list of values, I think I would be making up my values as I go along. That isn't practice. That is living by reaction or opportunism.
There is a vast difference between dogma and a working list of values. Dogma is rigid, prescribed often by hierarchical authority. Its relevance is superimposed on the individual life. A working list of humanist values entails skepticism, education and constant revision. How can these values be honed without any idea of what they are in my own mind? The weight of developing my list of humanist values lies within me.
Values which are prescribed and static have little relevance to the worldly lives of human beings. I must deal with real situations and emotions every moment of every day. Most of the Ten Commandments state the obvious for anyone with a conscience. But how do I make the obvious good of the human experience my own through asserting my own developed values in my life? For example, how do I maintain my value of nonviolence in a violent world, plagued by aggression and war?
My lists are a dynamic tool for making my way down my life's path. I cross things out. I add notes in the margins. I crumple them up and start over again when they are no longer relevant. My paper lists mirror my mental process of evaluation, education and change. My humanist practice is simply a work in perpetual progress with expected setbacks and restarts.