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When your principles lead you astray

We all have principles.

A principle is defined as “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.”

How diligently we all live by our principles is a different story. And I’ve been thinking about that a whole lot the past few days.

It was spurred on when I heard from a few people that they voted neither for Hillary nor for Trump to honour their principles. They voted for the candidate they knew had no chance of winning to stand by their principles. No, the idea of voting for the lesser of evils was not a strategy they were willing to employ.

Hmmm.

What do you think of that?

I see the good intentions behind the decision – yes, to live a principled life – yet I also think it’s irresponsible not to consider the impact of your good intentions. In this case, voting for the person you knew had no chance of winning had the same impact as throwing your ballot in the garbage.

Which makes me question what it means to live and die by our principles.

I was first challenged by this idea when I read Danielle Laporte’s book, called The Firestarter Sessions. She uses the example of Galileo to illustrate another situation where principles could have gotten in the way:

“Take Galileo. It was the 1600s and the Italian physicist had rightly concluded that the sun does not circle the Earth, but rather the Earth circles around the sun. This really pissed off the Catholics in charge. Something about Psalms 104:5, “The Lord set the Earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” Things got nasty. Galileo was tried in court and found guilty of heresy.

They gave him two options. He could “abjure, cure and detest” his theory. Just simply say, “Silly me. The earth is the center of the universe, for the Bible tells me so.” Or he could be hanged. Eeny, meany, miny…no. Galileo recanted, and spent the rest of his life in house arrest, researching, writing, and building what became the foundations of modern science as we know it. Productive guy. We can be glad he threw his principles to the wolves and got on with his life.”

As Laporte says, “Principles can wreak havoc in your life.” So, what about you? Do you agree? How have your principles served you? How have they slowed you down from getting on with your life? Do share!

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