We talk on principle, but we act on interest. Walter Savage Landor
If we look at the background of all the major scams almost all of them have two features ; they all have a financial interest at the heart of it and scams are perpetrated by and large by the people who are supposed to be custodians and who are to take a principled stand on tricky matters. Currently India is gripped with the IPL related skelton’s that are tumbling out of the BCCI cupboard and the dirt is sticking to so called well known politicians, business czars and pseudo cricket lovers of many garbs. Each of them have a fig leaf cover behind which they try to hide and the common line is we are principled and have no interest in anything that is being charged to us.
This is an age old problem that finds its roots from the time of the creation of the world. Adam blamed Eve for tempting him to eat the apple; Peter swore to defend Jesus at all times only to deny him three times for fear of retribution by the Jews and so the saga continues. In the Mahabharata too we have the classic case of Dronacharya asking Ekalavya to cut of his thumb as Gurudakshina only so as to ensure that Arjun remains the best archer. The principle of asking for Gurudakshina was misused in order to act on the selfish interest of promoting ones ward. Since all the examples given refer to well known characters, we might perhaps conclude that most of these happenings only involve the powerful and the mighty and we ordinary mortals are immune to such uncouth behavior. The reality though is far from true.
We all believe in telling the truth but won’t hesitate to rationalize a lie told by us. We will swear never to bribe but when it comes to getting our work done without much effort, we will take the easy way out and again rationalize it. When we turn a blind eye to an injustice being perpetrated right before our eyes we say it is none of our business. We are quick to point fingers at a strict teacher but never easily ready to reprimand our own wards for misbehavior or insubordination. If each of us examines our conscience we would suddenly make the shocking discovery that we are as hypocritical as the people whom we are ready to lynch for misdemeanor.
Then we are faced with the dilemma of how to stick to our principles and yet protect our interest. This is to be decided purely on a case to case basis and the rule of thumb will be to ensure that your interest are not driven by greed, hate, sloth and the other vices that we are prey to. No sooner our interests are genuine (this is subjective again) then our principles automatically get aligned to it. No doubt there will be very many inconveniences and tricky situations that we will have to face but then when it is principle on which one operates the resultant trials and tribulations are part and parcel of the commitment to the principle.
Remember: “To see what is right, and not do it, is want of courage, or of principle” Confucius
- Write down at least 3 guiding principles for yourself. Do you think you can operate based on these principles without compromising?
- You are appearing for an exam and you have studied very well. Unfortunately a vital question that carries the maximum marks stumps you completely. You notice that the person in front of you seems to know the answer very well and you can easily copy from that person with a little effort. You are also afraid that if you don’t score well in this question you might be in real danger of losing out precious marks that could mar your career prospects. When faced with this dilemma how would reason out your further course of action?
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