Principles of Adult Behavior by John Perry Barlow

John Perry Barlow

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth:
Assign responsibility, never blame.
Say nothing behind another’s back you’d be unwilling to say, in exactly the same tone and language, to his face.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you yourself can deliver.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than whom is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Do not endanger it frivolously. And never endanger the life of another.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason.
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Never let your errors pass without admission.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Forgive.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.

I don’t expect the perfect attainment of these principles. However, I post them as a standard for my conduct as an adult. Should any of my friends or colleagues catch me violating any one of them, bust me.

John Perry Barlow


The Church of Not Being Horrible

Heart drawn in hands

The Guthrie Center

Once upon a time, I was in the right place at the right time. I ended up at a large outdoor venue where Arlo Guthrie was performing, and in his patter between songs, he told a story that resonated with me deeply. He described having purchased an old church building (yes, that one) One evening, as he was tired from spending the day cleaning it out and sprucing it up, he was met one evening by a concerned couple who came knocking on his door. They were curious to hear the new use he had to put the building to, and asked him what he intended to build on the old bones of the once holy site.

“A church” he told them.

“What kind of church?” they asked, anxious to judge the quality of the faith being imported.

“A bring your own god church,” he responded. That idea struck a deep chord with me. I’ve always enjoyed building things from first principles, tearing things apart to examine their workings and better understand them. “Do It Yourself” is one of my favorite approaches, so a DIY church became, in that instant, the only kind of church I could ever join.

Arlo Guthrie sought to provide a place to bring together individuals for spiritual service, and founded the Guthrie Center, an Interfaith Church, in 1991. The Guthrie Foundation was created at the same time to fulfill Arlo’s aim to meet the ongoing needs of the community, and support cultural preservation and educational achievement. The Trinity Church where the song “The Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” began and where the movie “Alice’s Restaurant” was filmed, continues to service the local and international community.

The Foundation and the Center are dedicated to all those around the world who believe that there is one truth and infinite ways to approach it. As the world becomes smaller we must find ways to embrace the spiritual journeys of those whose traditions are different, without abandoning our own. We must also seek ways to preserve our greatest cultural heritage and find ways to support one another in difficult times. The skills needed for a healthy future are different from the ones needed to preserve the past, and both are required to live in the moment.

I can’t agree more. In times when the concepts of faith and conscience are being used to encourage divisiveness and small mindedness, I feel it is especially important to actively seek our own moral positions, and take time to consider how the insights of others can improve our perspective. Successful strategies for cooperating as a society must be built on a foundation of mutual respect and understanding, even when we expect to draw different conclusions than those we disagree with. Better understanding how we disagree can, I believe, lead us to appreciate why. The Guthrie Center hosts and accommodates all manner of faiths, allowing visitors to bring their own beliefs and leave having had them tempered by exposure to the stories told by others. I think this sort of shared appreciation is of critical importance, which is why I’m trying to bring it to scale. Stay tuned for details.

The Guthrie Center at the Old Trinity Church
The Guthrie Center at the Old Trinity Church

Here’s an article in the NY Times about the church, called The Guthrie Center. You can read more about Arlo’s endeavor on The Guthrie Center website.


Transhumanism is a class of philosophies of life that seek the continuation and acceleration of the evolution of intelligent life beyond its currently human form and human limitations by means of science and technology, guided by life-promoting principles and values.
– Max More (1990)