Of Principles and Morals
Corona says “Manalo, matalo, ang mahalaga rito ay maipakilala ko ang sarili ko. Let it not be said that I did not defend my principles. I am still fortunate because I have the opportunity na panindigan ang aking prinsipyo, not all are given this opportunity.”
The “true and fair view” can be what you make of it, depending on your principles.
What is a principle?
A principle is ‘a fundamental, primary, or general truth, on which other truths depend.’ Thus a principle is an abstraction which subsumes a great number of concretes. It is only by means of principles that one can set one’s long-range goals and evaluate the concrete alternatives of any given moment. It is only principles that enable a man to plan his future and to achieve it.
More than thirty years ago, American philosopher Ayn Rand, wrote that when principles (i.e., one’s conceptual faculties) are abandoned, we diminish our ability to project the future as individuals, and we diminish our ability to communicate as a group.
“Only fundamental principles, rationally validated, clearly understood and voluntarily accepted, can create a desirable kind of unity among men.”
“Consider: in any conflict between two men (or groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent who wins.”
What does it take to hold on to principles? How difficult is to be man of integrity in today’s world?
Any ethical question has a context. That context includes not only the immediate situation, but the principles involved. Here’s the thing that both the “situational ethics” crowd and the absolutists get wrong: Principles are always absolute, actions and people never are.
A principle is always an absolute. It is not right or wrong, it is a fact in the widest possible context. Full-context facts apply to all situations. If you have what you think is a principle, but it varies depending on the circumstance, then it is not a principle. It may be a good rule of thumb, or a guideline, but it is not a principle. Principles are few in number. If you have a wide range of what you think are principles, then most of them are not actually principles, but guidelines.
On the other hand, every situation is different. You cannot ever create a principle that will by itself demand a specific action for any given circumstance, let alone a single principle that will dictate specific actions in all circumstances. You don’t get off that easy – you don’t get to dodge the responsibility of thinking and integrating in every situation.
Principles are difficult to stand by, especially when others oppose. All of us have some principles, but they often become flexible, depending upon situation. You should always stand to your words, you should refuse to compromise under any circumstances, be in integrity. You’ll always have problems in doing so, but if you stand out you’ll always be happy deep within.
People in today’s world try to look good and avoid looking bad, thinking what others will think about them. It has become very difficult to be honest, but you should be honest with yourself, atleast!
To be true to yourself takes courage. It requires you to be introspective, sincere,open-minded and fair. It does not mean that you are inconsiderate or disrespectful of others. It means that you will not let others define you or make decisions for you that you should make for yourself.
Don’t listen to those who say, “It’s not done that way.” Maybe it’s not, but maybe you will. Don’t listen to those who say, “You’re taking too big a chance.” Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor, and it would surely be rubbed out by today. Most importantly, don’t listen when the little voice of fear inside of you rears its ugly head and says, “They’re all smarter than you out there. They’re more talented, they’re taller, blonder, prettier, luckier and have connections…”
“I firmly believe that if you follow a path that interests you, not to the exclusion of love, sensitivity, and cooperation with others, but with the strength of conviction that you can move others by your own efforts, and do not make success or failure the criteria by which you live, the chances are you’ll be a person worthy of your own respect.” –Neil Simon
Principles allow one to operate under an easy set of morals. Morals are typically good. These principles can decide what someone does in their daily life without much thought. Morals are good; some people just like to be Superman, and others don’t give two fucks about anybody.
But what if we turn it the other way around?
Principles doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with moral. With good moral, you may act differently judging by the situation, as long as it is in your/others best interest. But by following principle, this may hinder you from acting morally (depending on what your principle is).
Yes, morals are principles, but principles aren’t necessarily moral.
I think if you make a set of principles to live by, then people are able to respond to their surroundings more easily. I’m not talking about any specific situational or moral outcome, I’m talking about how people like to have a set of guidelines to follow, whether it be made by themselves or their own religion.
This could enable people to not take each situation as an individual situation, just kind of act as they have already instructed themselves to do in their personal guidebook, perhaps not give the situation at hand as much thought as it needs.
If people live well with structure, then I think people like to live by a set of principles, generally. People like feeling as if they have answers, or at least feel like they have them.
I have a code:
1)Have love and compassion for others and
2)Try not to harm others.
These may be rather general, abstract or open to interpretation but of all the sum of knowledge I encounter in my lifetime I can hit the erase button to it all but these two things.
They are the base that I build everything on and nothing that I build, not the walls or roof, can ever become more important. It is my default, my safety net for what I judge all my “building materials” on and if any brick clashes with this base it (the brick)is replaced. If by chance the whole structure clashes with this base then it is the structure that comes down and the base remains for what I shall build the new structure on.
If they are good or bad?
I don’t know or much care, it is just what I can agree with on every fiber of my being, unlike everything else.
Morality is the basis for Confucianism. Where some people think math is intrinsic in reality itself, some people believe morality is. Some things you just know without ever being taught. People have a built in sense of right and wrong like some animals are good with direction. It is getting harder to be moral however. At least the line between good and bad/ right and wrong has become more and more grey.
Although everyone may have varying degrees of what is correct and acceptable in regards to moral beliefs, if you’re seeking inner peace and abundance, there’s isn’t much wiggle room.
You can’t feel it’s morally right to hurt others and expect abundance in return.
This is the spiritual aspect I mentioned earlier. Sure, there’s examples of people who amass great wealth by hurting, murdering, or cheating others. Spiritually, though, you will never convince me that this person ever reaches peace, or enlightenment.
When you’re a person of honor, and morally wealthy, you may not amass as much physical wealth as the morally bankrupt person, but, you’ll find that you attract exactly enough abundance to fill you up emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
When your definition of moral belief is aligned with giving, rather than receiving, it’s amazing what you end up receiving.
Strive to be a person of character. Strive to achieve your own definition of moral belief that’s a bedrock of honor and dignity.
Become spiritually wealthy. Achieve spiritual enlightenment.
Change your life.
My Principles at Work
I’ve had a listing of principles that I try to keep in mind whenever I’m dealing with software development. Now understand, I don’t write code for a living (although I do write code). I manage people who write code for a living. So your list of principles might be quite different depending on what role you play.
I have been adding to this list since I started it. Actually, principle #1 has been with me for many years before that.
My Principles of Software Development
- Until software is delivered, act as if it will always be vaporware. (This applies to hiring new employees, hiring new executives, and re-orgs as well as the release of software.)
- When referring to computer systems, the phrase “We’ll never need more _____ than _____” is always wrong. It is wrong no matter what goes in the blanks.
- Always design your containers to contain containers. For example, if you are building a feature to group users, make sure that groups can contain other groups as well as users. This is true unless you know that you’ll never need more layers of nesting than one (see principle #1).
- The projected delivery date for a project is the one date on which it is guaranteed that the project will not be delivered.
- Delete things while you know why you don’t need them.
- It should “just work”.
- There should only be a SINGLE source of truth.
While what your principles are is important because they guide your decision making, it is really also important that you share your principles with those you work with.
A bunch of my principles are shared with others. There’s no reason why our principles need to be unique or different from those of other folks. In fact, one of the most powerful things about principles is that when they are shared they make understanding and decision making much more efficient and painless.
That said, I’m more than willing to take some credit for the ones I have without attribution.
“Those are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others.” – Groucho Marx