Harry Carter's Basic Rules For Life: Volume I

Many times I wonder who taught me what I know today. I am happy with what I have learned, but dismayed that there is still so much that I need to learn.


Many times I wonder who taught me what I know today. I am happy with what I have learned, but dismayed that there is still so much that I need to learn. Like many of my fire service buddies, I believe life to be one continuous journey in pursuit of knowledge. I also believe that friends are important. Evidence to the contrary, I do not think that nice guys (and gals) have to finish last.

It is my belief that my lot in life involves sharing my core beliefs with you. I prefer to do it in a way that allows for my experience and that of my associates to shine forth. I have long believed that there should be some sort of mechanism for sharing the tacit knowledge that we gain through the living of life. Far too often these insightful little gems remain bottled up in the head of the person who thought them up.

I have grown old in the service waiting for someone else to start the ball of tacit knowledge transmission rolling in the world. Times up. Let me start a new trend in the world today. Let me share some thoughts on how one?s life should be lived.

Since none of us can divorce ourselves from our lives and our working careers, it is critical to make the knowledge we have gained through the living of life widely available. One of the things I have learned in this life is that there are no absolutes. Nothing and everything are meaningless concepts. No one and everyone are far too broad to be of any value.

However, there is a wide range of flexible guideposts that provide a sensible approach to handling life?s little dramas, comedies, and tragedies. It is my intention to create a list of rules to help you live your life. I can recall times in my life where I would encounter a situation where there seemed to be a lack of rules to govern the situation I was facing. I dearly wished that someone had created a list of rules for the roadblock I was facing.

Let me share some of my background in rule creation, just to let you know that I have a bit experience in this area. I am a parent. It has been my job over the past 24 years to attempt to create the boundaries wherein my children could grow as adults and enter the workforces as honest, upright, and productive people.

All of you who have children of your own know how hard this task is. As H. Jackson Brown, Jr. (1991) so succinctly stated, ??it is not the responsibility of parents to pave the road for their children, but to provide a road map.? I would like to report the results as so far so good. Some rules worked and some did not. New rules were created for unique situations. Old rules were modified or discarded as the circumstances warranted. So it will be with my rules for life.

I used this same approach in my text, Firefighting Principles and Practices - The Eight Step Method, from Fire Protection Publications. I created a series of firefighting rules. I called them:

  • Carter?s hoseline hints
  • Carter?s engine company hints
  • Carter?s truck company tips

In order to increase their impact and make them more easily recalled in a time of crisis, I kept them simple. My favorite is BIG FIRE = BIG WATER ? Little fire = little water. Another one of my favorites is be sure you have a source with enough water for your needs. Yet another that has great application in everyday life is, never pass a fire. Thoughts like that allow you to fix a simple, guiding operational principle in your mind. When the time comes, the right thought will pop right into your mind.

This is what I wish to do in this week?s commentary. I want to give you a simple list of rules for living a good and decent life. Like all credible researchers, I shall attempt to list the genesis of my thought whenever possible.

The first rule on my list is one of Biblical proportions that I have invoked on many, many occasions. It is the rule that has come to be known as the Golden Rule. The Book of Matthew lays it out far better than I ever could. ?Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.?

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