Rules to Live By. Maybe.

I have been reading the Orphan X series by Gregg Hurwitz about a child who was taken from an orphanage at a young age and trained to be an assassin. The person who trained the orphan who would become “The Nowhere Man” also trained him to retain his humanity as much as possible, and gave him a series of commandments to live by.

I was intrigued by the rules the orphan was taught because most of them seemed to be things that we all should know. (The eighth commandment for most of us would be to never kill anyone, not just a kid, but I suppose if one is an assassin, the distinction is necessary.)

The First Commandment: Assume nothing.
The Second Commandment: How you do anything is how you do everything.
The Third Commandment: Master your surroundings.
The Fourth Commandment: Never make it personal.
The Fifth Commandment: If you don’t know what to do, do nothing.
The Sixth Commandment: Question orders.
The Seventh Commandment: One mission at a time.
The Eighth Commandment: Never kill a kid.
The Ninth Commandment: Always play offense.
The Tenth Commandment: Never let an innocent die.

Honorary mention – Don’t fall in love with plan A.

And from a different series by a different author: Don’t believe everything you think you know.

A couple of these “commandments” really make me think, especially the second one. Is it true how you do anything is how you do everything? If so, it makes sense to pay attention to how you do the simplest thing to make sure when it comes to something important, you act the way you need to act.

And though the final rule about not believing everything you think you know isn’t something Orphan X was taught, but was a precept taught to new cops in another series, it fits with the rest, and it, too, makes me think. We do tend to believe what we think we know, and that is true today more than ever since that’s basically all we can do — from all the various “facts” at our disposal, we choose which ones to believe, though some of those “facts” have to be false since not all of them can be true.

Whether these are rules for us normal, real live humans (rather than characters in a book) to live by, they are intriguing, to say the least.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

2 Responses to “Rules to Live By. Maybe.”

  1. Estragon Says:

    I was going to “yeah-but” some of the “commandments”, for example #5; doing nothing is still a choice. Making it the default choice doesn’t mean it’s any more likely to be the right choice than any of the alternatives involving some sort of action. #2 is really suspect. Most of what we do is either automatic or by rote. A small fraction of our activity is a subject of conscious thought, and an even smaller fraction is a subject of real deliberation. It’s those small fractions that really define us though. We might feel like doing ‘X’, but we reflect and decide ‘Y’ might be a better course. Instinctive reactions aren’t necessarily the right ones.

    It occurs to me though, that all the commandments boil down to some sort of absolute. In my experience, very little in life is absolute. In a way, I envy those who can see things in black or white, but I see ambiguity and uncertainty in most things. Might work fine for fictional assassins, but maybe not so much for the rest of us.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      As always, you make good points and make me think. You’re certainly right about very little in life being absolute. I think lists like this are interesting in that they try to make life seem like an absolute, or at least give a person a way around the non-absolutes. If one is an assassin, that it.

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