Principles before Personalities

The Jedi were all about principles before personalities. The Jedi Order and the mission at hand were seen by the Jedi as far more important than the individual. Often in the Star Wars saga we are reminded of this important precept. Both Yoda and Obi-wan Kenobi accept the end of their lives with equanimity and carry no attachment to the existence that they leave behind caring only that those they leave behind can find the path to bringing balance to the Force and peace to the Galaxy.

During the third battle of Geonosis, Master Jedi Luminara Unduli admonishes Anakin who has become emotional and angry over potentially losing Ahsako Tano during an infiltration mission in to a Separatist Droid Factory. Jedi Master Luminara also has a Padawan who was with Ahsako and may also be lost. She accepts the situation as it presents itself and reminds Anakin that the Jedi do not form attachment to personalities and that the objectives of destroying the Droid Factory is of far greater importance.

When the two Padawan’s are rescued from under the wreckage of the ruined Separatist strong hold Anakin expresses his relief and having never given up. Luminara reminds him that one day he will have to let his Padawan go and asks will he be able to?

Anakin repeats this pattern many times, his guilt and fear of loss, his strong sense of loyalty to those he is attached controls him. As a result he consistently chooses to compromise on the principles he is meant to uphold for the sake of the many. Anakin’s strong need to be able to control circumstances and solve problems even at the sake of the Jedi Code ultimately leads to his down fall.

People before Principle

There is a saying reputed to be by Stalin that goes “one death is a tragedy and a million is statistic”. Sometimes the world will ignore the plight or millions but suddenly spring in to action at the image of one suffering child or the death of one animal splayed all over social media to finally find affinity to a cause and rage at an injustice. We look the other way until we know someone who is affected or we are personally impacted. Otherwise society rallies behind hashtags and for most it is as far as they will go.

If I look at the mass I will never act.” – Mother Teresa

On the flip side we sometimes allow our emotional attachments and our relationships with people to override our principles and perceptions on things and we lose objectivity and perspective. Often time we are expected to “look the other way” or make exceptions when it’s a friend, family member or an important associate. I see it all the time, friends of friends are given jobs that others may have been more qualified to take, standards that are applied to everyone are often loosened or ignored when it comes to accommodating a friend. Favors are rendered to the chosen few but are denied to those less in favor. Sometimes we do these things because we feel a sense of loyalty or duty to people, we expect something back or we want to be held in esteem and favor.

Drinking before Principle

For me it was drinking before principles. Anytime I was not drinking I thought that I was a person of principle and that personal biases or favorites did not count, that there were no exceptions when it came to drawn lines in the sand. The exception of course was booze. If I knew I had an important engagement the next day or an important assignment due I would work hard but if an opportunity came up to have a drink I would hesitate at first but soon find myself drunk. Reason and good judgement would be abandoned. I would know full well that to allow myself to have on drink would scuttle all good intentions and sure enough I would arrive at the appointed time ill prepared and somehow scrape through vowing never to do it again.

My skewed priorities applied everywhere. One relationship after another was ruined through my selfish indulgence and complete lack of consideration for others once I started drinking. I would meet someone I thought was really nice and for a short while I would control myself and then inevitably I would be away on a drinking spree and reveal the type of person I was. Eventually my relationships would end badly and I would blame the other person. Jobs were gained with a handshake and in good faith and end within months after my Employer saw that my work ethic and reliability was in doubt as much as my ability to turn up to work without a hangover. One promise was broken after the next.

In all our Affairs

I had principles (or at least I thought I did) and I could not understand how I could not up hold them while expecting others to up hold their own. Eventually I got sober and realized that besides new found sobriety and a spiritual foundation all I had was a few simple principles that if applied, could keep me sober and alive. The main  caveat was applying them in all of my affairs.

Weddings, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas and Easter, New Years and so many other occasions I could have a drink but I won’t. I will not and I cannot. My best friend wants me to celebrate with him the birth of his Granddaughter, I land a new and lucrative job or I pass an important exam, all valid reasons for a beer or two. Still I won’t. I have to lie or cheat to get my way or help out a friend or family member? Honesty is a virtue and for me a principle, so I don’t. I’m forced to consider taking action which may be viewed as unethical or morally questionable in order to land a friend an important job or opportunity? Not anymore. I have to draw a line and say I can’t cross it and figure out a way to help in a way that is true to my values.

If all you have are your values and the principles by which you live then why would you compromise on them? Friends come and go, our family members sometimes let us down, our material possessions and present comforts are transient and impermanent. All you have is your inner life and your ability to decide what is right and what is wrong and to act according to whatever principles you hold dear. If your primary concern is your family and by principle you will do anything for them, no matter what the consequences or cost, then so be it, it is your choice. But always choose principles before personality always otherwise be prepared to compromise on who you truly are.

If it isn’t true don’t say it, if it isn’t right don’t do it, if it isn’t yours don’t take it” –  Unknown.

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