On My Moral Code

Sept 6, 2008

This document is about my moral code, a few simple principles that have guided me for almost 40 years and allowed me to live a rich, deeply satisfying life. 

My moral code – early 20s – early 40s

In my early 20s coming out of service in the US army I decided to set some goals for my life.  They were to be rich and famous and to get lots of pussy.  These became my reference points in life for a number of years.

By my mid 30s I was doing quite well with respect to these goals.  I had a PhD from Harvard and a well paying job.  I traveled frequently to Europe and throughout the US, had a nice house and lived well.   By standards in most of the world, I was rich.  I was well known professionally, had published many papers and books and often spoke in front of audiences of hundreds or even thousands.  I became a full professor and dean of a graduate school in a major university without having to climb the academic ladder.  So, I was famous in a certain sphere.  I was one of the highest paid faculty members on campus. At the same time I was enjoying incredible sex with my lusty second wife, and had had sex with many women.  In my later 30s a girlfriend moved in with me, my second wife and our children and I was having great sex two, three or more times a day with more than one woman.  I had lots of good pussy.  

Around that time some things were also starting to unravel in my life and I was unhappy about several things: I did not see enough of my children with my first wife and I felt terrible about having been driven by sex enough to leave her.  She was and continues to be a very good woman. My second marriage was chronically unhappy even through years of monogamy before the girlfriend moved in.  And my second wife understandably became unhappy and restless with the live-in girlfriend situation.  There was much strife at home.  While the university job was a hoot and offered me endless opportunities for lifestyle exploration it seemed to be a professional dead end. 

My moral code – early 40s – today (age almost 79)

Much drama and change in my life occurred in the following years, but that history is not the subject of this writing.  Suffice it to say that by my middle 40s I had grown a lot – through long bouts of psychotherapy, much exposure to human-potential movement workshops, T-groups, encounter groups, church membership, couples groups, EST and, most importantly, the experiences of life itself. 

Around that time I formulated a new set of basic intentions for my life, a new moral code that has increasingly guided me since.  I lay out the principles of that moral code here and then briefly characterize the results of applying them.

Contribution to others is my basic mission.  This mission informs all others; it is what my life is about.  Contribution first implies love for others, all others in fact.  It is the action part of love; it means not only loving others but also expressing that love, giving it being in the world.  Contribution alone generates the other elements of my personal code.  Contribution for me is a context requiring many forms of expression, some of which are instantaneous responses to emerging situations, others involving long term relationships, others yet involving creating and sharing new ideas, art and writings like this one.  A few examples of contribution are:

-         Walking across the city street when you see someone sitting on a curb who could be troubled or in trouble; seeing if there is anything in the instant you can do to help.

-         Being conscious of what you say at a convivial dinner meeting.  Asking yourself “Will this statement contribute to someone or will it possibly hurt?”

-         Taking every opportunity to acknowledge others for their contributions and for who they are,

-         Connecting meaningfully with strangers even for an instant in the post office or supermarket checkout line,

-         Constantly being conscious of who I am, my purposes and intentions and the impact of what I am doing with respect to them,

-         Sharing myself and my philosophy wherever there is receptivity to doing that.

-         Creating ideas, art and writings that reflect my philosophies; sharing them wherever possible, and

-         Simply being with one who is troubled.

Health for me and others is an important corollary principle, not only a prerequisite for my effectiveness at contribution but one of the greatest gifts I can give,  Remember, Jesus was foremost a healer.  He gave health to others.  Health means paying attention to questions like: How do I stay healthy?  How can I help keep the members of my family healthy?  How can I contribute to the health of others?   My new career is the science and practice of longevity in a condition of health.  I have been preparing for that career for 14 years now, and it is currently a central thrust for my contribution.

Learning, constant learning, is another corollary  principle, a commitment to being with what is to get to what is desired.

 I can’t contribute to others unless I can be with them as they are and know what kind of assistance I can provide when.  This requires one kind of constant and restless learning.  I must listen carefully to see what is wanted and needed before I speak.  I am basically a scientist by background and have learned a key thing about knowledge and learning.  It never ends and every piece of knowledge surfaces many other pieces that must still be understood.  Back when I was a PhD student at Harvard and studied with some of the foremost minds who were into the physics of the very small and the very large, the picture of the universe hung fairly well together.  There was more to be learned but what was known fit fairly well together.  Now we know a lot more, but the picture has developed serious gaps and cracks in it.  Dark matter and dark energy are entities designed to make our physics equations for the universe come out.  We talk about them as if they are real but they have never been observed.  Do they really exist?  Is there really lots more dark matter and energy in the universe than observable matter and energy or is this just a way of papering over profound ignorance? Our observations tell us that the universe is about 16 billion years but that some of the galaxies in it are 31 billion years old.  Hmnn!  What we know we don’t know expands much faster than what we know And of course there is the infinite domain out there of what we don’t know we don’t know.  One thing this means for me is that, given any situation and everything I know about it, there is probably something further I can discover about it that can be used to make it better.

Integrity is essential for effectiveness.  Integrity is declaring one’s word and sticking to one’s word and commitments.  This applies whether ones word is to herself/himself or to others.  My experience is that without integrity there is no contribution, only chaos.  I learned this the hard way and created a lot of chaos in my life before cleaning it up.  When faced with personal decisions in recent years, I refer back to this moral code very often in my life.  I ask myself which decision is most compatible withy my moral code, with these principles?  I still don’t always get it right but my track record continues to improve.

Closely related to Integrity is responsibility – following one’s word through with actions.  Not just talking contribution but doing it.  Not just doing it sometimes but being responsible  at every opportunity that arises.

Creativity is another corollary principle worth mentioning.  What exists is not pre-ordained; it is constantly being created.  As a living agent and part of that wonderful field of being that pervades everything, the field we call God, it is my responsibility not just to accept what is but to compassionately create what isn’t yet but could be – all in the service of contribution. You might want to have a look at my essay On Being and Creation that lays out my view of what exists, what can be created, and our possibilities as human beings.

Staying on target.  In my life I have not got many things right the first time, and some times not even the second or even the third time.  Here is where integrity, learning,  responsibility and creativity come into play together.  Keeping focused on my specific intentions of contribution, what have I learned that can be applied, including lessons from failures?  How can I take responsibility for creating the kind of outcomes I want?  Personally I feel it is never too late to transform any situation for the better.

A very important aspect of keeping on target for me is having these principles constantly on the top of my mind.  I consciously refer to them dozens of times a week, and probably many more times than that on an unconscious basis.  For example:

-         My wife Melody and I were crossing Lake Winnipausakee in my ancient aluminum 35 horsepower outboard-powered boat the day before yesterday; we were just emerging from the broads. In the distance Melody noticed what was easily a $50,000 craft wallowing in the water.  Were they just stopped for the view or to take a swim?  Not my concern.  I had the fleeting thought: Even if they did have a problem with their elegant new boat, they must be rich or foolish to have brought such an expensive boat – so they deserved any problem they had with it.  Besides, my little scow was too tiny to pull that big boat anywhere.  My mission flashed in my head and it became clear I had to turn around and go back to check the situation out.  I pulled my boat up near the stalled yacht and we shouted back and forth.  Indeed a dad, mom and two small kids were stuck there; their motor did not work.  I caught up to and hailed another big boat and asked them to pull the stalled yacht to shore. They did, another act of kindness to strangers.   In a while I called the dad and confirmed that they were OK by phone.  .  He was very grateful for the help.  It was a small deed but one that probably contributed to me and Melody as much as to those assisted.  The choice was right.

A general observation is that my acts of contribution invariably do great things for me.  Acts of kindness multiply.

-         Deciding when I should return to home in Wayland from my cottage in New Hampshire, an important factor was having lunch Wednesday with my son Vincent.  This was balanced against doing further repairs and maintenance on the place so it can be enjoyed by others.  So I am leaving tomorrow so I can do both.

-         Receiving much acknowledgment from members of the Bear Island Church congregation who heard a 5-minute condensed version of this content yesterday, I decided to write this article so I could share it with others.

-         I am at a dinner party where I find the dinner conversation boring and not terribly meaningful.  Am I willing to take responsibility to switch the topic to one more meaningful, one that can potentially empower people present?  Even when it means breaking an unstated norm of avoiding the personal?  What is the best way to do this and have success, transform the occasion to benefit everyone?

-         I had a dear friend whose life was quite in shambles in multiple dimensions only four years ago.  I made a deliberate choice to be with that friend with a strong intention that he get his act together – and follow through in every interaction with him.  Part of this was role modeling, another part intellectual and the main part just being with him, sharing who I am and benefiting from who he is.  My intentions were realized incredibly.  I can’t say more to preserve confidentiality of the friend and of course can’t take any credit for this.  He deserves and gets it all.  Yet this history is deeply satisfying for me.  I am doing this with another dear friend now.

-         I have done the same with all other members of my family over the years.  It has mostly worked though the outcomes of a few situations are still in play.  With my family members I am constantly conscious of my mission and intentions for contribution.

Of course, over the years I have created numerous subsidiary intentions pursuant to my basic ones.  For example, specific things I would like to see realized for certain people such as clearing up a certain disease or resolving a particular problem.  Very many of these specific intentions have been realized and others are still working.  Very few if any have been outright failures.

Outcomes of my mission and basic intentions

They work for me and work extremely well.  I have raised 8 children and enjoy a large extended family.  That family includes my 3 previous wives and my children with them as well as my present wife and our son.  We are all basically happy and healthy.  That girlfriend who moved in with me and my family 38 years ago became my third wife and we had a son together.  I married another girlfriend (my current wife) with whom I also had a son.  We have enjoyed a happy monogamous marriage for over 30 years now.  We purchased a large suburban home 24 years ago and my wife and our son and I occupied one floor, my third wife and my son with her on another floor.  The idea was that both sons could grow up as close brothers with their dad present in the house. And that we could share time as an extended family as well as in separate families.  It worked and now at 30 and 28 the two sons are close friends. Except for the sons, we still live in the same house. There is no rancor left among us and most vestiges of past bad feelings have vanished.  I enjoy wonderful and supportive friendships, including with my wife, ex-wives and sons.  All of us that around go to my first wife’s house for Christmas dinner and come to my house for Thanksgiving dinner. 

You can look at my On Being and Creation paper to get a snapshot of the apparent miracles that have transpired in my life.  I feel as happy, productive and intellectually capable as ever. Now I am off creating a new career, being a synthesizer and communicator related to the sciences of longevity.  To learn more about this you can read a paper I have just completed called Antiaging Firewalls.

What about my original rich, famous, and lots of pussy intentions?  They are still there but now in the background.  And they have been somewhat refined.  Now I prefer to say I want to be economically comfortable enough to realize my intentions, I want to be acknowledged for my contributions, and I want to enjoy true intimacy including a passionate sexual relationship with my wife.

These principles work for me.

Finally, I need to be clear that having these explicit principles do not give me any moral superiority.  Many people I know were born and raised in such a blessed way that they naturally follow these and similar principles without any need to state or think about them.  Others arrive at similar principles from religious or philosophical basics.  It is just that for me, I had to learn many of these principles the hard way and it is important that I keep them in my conscious mind to make sure I practice them.

Copyright 2008 by Vincent E Giuliano, all rights reserved

This document is based on and provides an extension to comments I made to the congregation of the Bear Island Church ( Lake Winnipausakee in New Hampshire) as part of a layiety service on August 31, 2008.

Back to my writings home page