The 10 Princa-mandments

Most of us who opted into the the Burning Man life and live it in our daily lives by observing and respecting the 10 Principles have had that occasion where someone asked about Burning Man and why: “why won’t you shut the fuck up about it?”

More than that there is those said principles that get a gray area like nothing else, but a body of the burner community can be robust in their application of the principles. One R.C. (Regional Contact) I know called it Churchification, but an aggressive point of view versus a more laid back application run the gambit in the community as a whole.

 Orignal photo by Scott Haefner

Quite simply the 10 Principles are not the 10 Commandments. While the 10 Commandments are great for a national basic series of laws to live by, the principles are ideal for a community or communities that are part of that nation.

Talking about Burning Man

“…going to Burning Man is on my bucket list…”

– same quote from about 500 Twitter users

There is a world of difference with newbies who have a natural inclination to the Burning Man lifestyle versus the Frat Boy going out to crunch beer cans. Talking about these principles and applying them will affect these people differently potentially. Talking about ‘why‘ Burning Man is more than a week long event insights some interesting reactions.

“She told me she was planning on going to Burning Man next year in our discussion over coffee. We were meeting in a local cafe called “Cafe Flore” that has a Burning Man    Man on the roof and is owned by Burners. We were meeting because she was going to provide me a service and was interviewing me for this service… but she kept going back to ‘why‘ is Burning Man in your life beyond some festival that happens 7 days a year?

“When I tried explaining that the 10 Principles include things like radical self reliance, radical self expression, community involvement, etc… I explained these were things that were are not the 10 Commandments.  But she countered:

‘Why wouldn’t a normal person just do the right thing? Why is Burning Man in your life beyond some festival that happens 7 days a year?’

“Not everyone just does the right things and we are looking this as guidelines for a community. It’s a culture. It’s an ideal.

“I kept the story as to why it was important to me, naturally unable to speak for others, but in her frustration she shut down our conversation obviously irritated. She terminated our business and walked away implying I had lost my mind.”

– Just Scott

How many Burners experienced this reaction? It is hard at this time to find something to compare this to.

Distilling this reaction to Fear or Anger of something that a person cannot clearly ‘wrap their head around’ over simplifies the severe response. Perhaps a psychologist can offer some insight?

General Recap

The principles are what they are. 10 great guidelines that have a wide gray line on both sides. How deep they follow you beyond the trash fence is just as individual as the participant at the event. So, if you have an adverse reaction to information about the event in the life of someone else – maybe this is not for you.

“In the course of our conversation and how she kept referring to it being just a 7 day event that begins and ends and then, as she said, ‘people return to their normal lives’ I gave her a suggestion. I said, in the nicest way possible, cushioning it and told her: Maybe Burning Man is really not for you.”

– Just Scott

So, what else can you say? Feel free to add your thoughts below.

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