The Advantage of Living With a Code

It happened again.

The CEO who built a $9-Billion dollar company from scratch gets fired from his own company for fraud.

A four-star general has an extramarital affair that jeopardizes official secrets and resigns in disgrace.

Men who should be the pillars of their community, role models, the men we look to for leadership, shatter the character and reputations that took them decades to build in one instant of mendacity & weakness.

Their weakness harm others. Jobs are lost. Billions of dollars in value destroyed. Trust eroded. People become cynical.


The Bushido Code 

This is what happens when men don’t live by a code.

Men need a code. Whether it’s the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, the Fierce Gentleman Manifesto, or the Bushido Code doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you, as a man, have consciously chosen your code, and do your best to live it, every single day.

In a harsher age, the code is instilled by parents or the community, because the code has survival value.

As wealth has made life easier, community has eroded, parents have disappeared from many children’s lives, and the teaching of the code has become more rare. “Do what thou wilt” becomes the whole of the law for so many children.

In this world there is sickness, hardship, suffering, darkness. The code guides us through all this. It is the light we shine in the darkness. It is the flame that beats back the shade of corruption, scarcity, and ego. It is the pillar that holds us upright when we are most tempted to collapse under the weight of expediency, the lust for glory, the craving for approval.

Rebuilding our communities will take time. Making sure each child has parents will take time. In the meantime we must make an individual commitment to think deeply about our lives and our code.

Let’s take this very common moral code — “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” How many people work in industries that directly or indirectly contravene this code? Well, there goes the whole tobacco industry and the car industry. For sure you can’t work as a weapons manufacturer.

What about if you’re a marketing manager, and you are approached by a client who works in the tobacco industry or car industry? Do you take that client? A man living by a code that included “Thou Shalt Not Kill” would turn down that client.

This isn’t to induce guilt. I’m not saying we should become rigid automatons or Jain priests, who sweep the ground in front of them lest they step on an insect and kill it.

I’m saying we should consider the implications of our code on a global scale. We should acknowledge the madness that our current engineering of world systems has caused. I fly to Paris to have an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience with my family, and boom, via air pollution, I’ve contributing to the killing of beautiful creatures I love.

That is utter madness. Why is our world designed in such a mad way? Is our current design necessary? Is it optimum? Do we have a choice?

The answer is: we didn’t mean for it to be this way. We just took whatever came to hand and used it. We didn’t know any better.

But our current design is not necessary, it is not the only design, and now that we know it is directly contributing to a massive daily kill, we have the choice to change it…if we can muster the courage to change it.

In fact, to not take that choice is morally indefensible. Changing the way our world works to reduce and eventually eliminate indiscriminate and ‘casual killing’ is the only moral choice.

Take cement. Cement outgases CO2 pollution that kills people. Cement is the primary ingredient in concrete, which is the 2nd most consumed substance on Earth, after water. Each person alive today “consumes” an average of 3 tons of concrete per year.

Basically the entire current global economic infrastructure is lethal to humans and animals. To include in our code “Thou Shalt Not Kill” is to make a commitment to work towards a non-lethal world that works for everybody, as quickly as possible. Our task is simply to make obsolete the global economy as it is conceived today.

Most people at this point would throw up their hand and say “It’s impossible to live by that code.” Or, they’ll start modifying their code so it’s more convenient: “Thou Shalt Not Kill People You Work With Every Day.” Or “Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Wife, Unless She’s Really Unhappy In Her Marriage And Comes On To You After Three Martinis.

But a convenient code is no code at all. Moral rules are not meant to be convenient, they are meant to guide us to optimum outcomes — for individuals and the community. If you only follow a moral code when it’s convenient or expedient, you might as well not have one.

That’s why we advance a code here at Fierce Gentleman. In surrendering to that which is larger and more powerful than us, we live in the power of those principles and lead upright, steadfast and moral lives.

This has nothing to do with religious affiliation, nothing to do with politics. These decisions about how we conduct our lives are moral decisions that every human must make. They are the ultimate statements of religion and politics and supersede labels and sects we may claim from ego. No man-made ego-driven political or religious sect lays claim to absolute moral integrity; it is always a question of individual behavior.

It’s past time for the return of the Moral Man. Will you join us?


Also published on Medium.

8 Comments The Advantage of Living With a Code

  1. James

    I take your points, but with a caveat: one must think of the current system in context.

    So take an example from our polluting society, factory farming for example. Pretty bad right?

    Farm equipment runs on energy (diesel). So even when we eat, we are indirectly causing carbon emissions and therefore harm. The animals are treated very poorly (and this needs to change IMO, but we’ll get to that in a bit). And the food may not be the most optimal thing from a human health standpoint.

    This same factory farming, however, is what prevents hundreds upon millions of people from starving on a daily basis and furthermore shelters them from the randomness Mother Nature (most subsistence farmers are screwed if there is ever any kind of extended drought. There’s been a drought in Cali for a while now – no problem. Just don’t water your lawn). And lastly, it provides meat to the poorest parts of society (meat used to be a luxury that only the rich could afford).

    So is factory farming “bad” or “good”? Not inherently either way (so long as you accept the fact that if we get invaded by aliens, there is little defense we can provide in terms of asking them not to enslave us).

    Humans tend to solve the most pressing needs in front of us, and then incrementally improve upon those solutions or invent better ones as time goes on.

    So back to the factory farming example: is it good? Overall, yes IMO. Can it be improved? Yup, we can stop treating the animals in barbaric ways and make it so that they are healthier, and perhaps work on improving food technology to make the process more humane and economically efficient.

    (but this might lead to a reduction of jobs in the case where machines take over tasks previously done by humans. So is this truly better? See what I did there)

    I think that the best way to live is 1) constantly be trying to improve and do better 2) be willing to challenge the assumptions you have and admit when you are wrong 3) ask yourself about the context of the situation.

    Great article as always!

    1. Drew

      Agreed on your three points James….I especially love the Alien Invasion scenario. Aliens: “We’d like to harvest you for the secretions of your glands, they are delicious to us.” Humans: “That’s barbaric!” Aliens: *point to factory farming* Humans: ……

      Thanks for commenting!

      {Edit: I wonder if animals don’t think of us as devils because we eat them. This was an eye-opening video for me:

        1. John

          I get the impression you are trying to make yourself feel better for the slaughter and indulgence of animals. It is naive to suggest that factory farming is saving lives, in fact it is quite the opposite, the grain fed to the animals that is then consumed just by America could feed the world over multiple times. The land usage, water usage and so on is doing much more harm than good(dont worry about the cali drought as youve still got beef on your plate(the largest consumer of fresg water)) and that isnt even taking into account the fact you are butchering helpless animals entirely because it tastes nice. The west can feed themselves very comfortably on a vegeterian/vegan diet yet greed and glutony over rules that. Meat and factory farming is in no way beneficial to the world. Don’t kid yourselves just to feel content about the murder of millions of animals each year.

    1. Drew

      100% correct. But we can either A) figure out how to build pylons with materials that don’t outgass pollution or C) build additional forests that drink down C02 as fast as the additional pylons outgass it. And we must do one of those things, or some combination.


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