Marquette Wire

Don’t hide behind your principles

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We all have personal guidelines, and they play a large role in what we do.

“I don’t drink soda.”

“I don’t drink coffee.”

“I don’t drink bacon fat.”

We create these principles because we like to feel a sense of control, whether we stick to them or occasionally falter.

Of course, you’re more likely to do things around your peers that you normally have principles against, like eating junk food, watching Teen Mom or cursing. But that’s just an issue of discipline.

The principles we hold strongly are the ones we know are just, like not cheating in relationships. Most people also refrain from hand-to-hand combat with babies because they embrace a principle of avoiding fights, even if they’ll always win because babies don’t know the first thing about cage matches.

We access our principles for proper justification, but sometimes we rely on them too much. When that happens, all we have left to defend our position is to say, “It’s the principle of the matter.”

I don’t care that she forgot it was my birthday. It’s the principle of the thing so I want an apology.

I don’t care that he won $500 dollars and truly wants to split it with me. It’s the principle of the matter, so I can’t accept
the money.

I don’t care that buying a foreign car would save me on gas, money and maintenance. It’s the principle of the thing, so I buy American.

Ego is a stupid thing. When the principle itself becomes the reason for making or not making a decision, that’s when we need to wise up. It’s just bad logic, like saying it’s OK to litter because birds will use the garbage in their nests.

If we abandon this principle-principle, we can escape our self-inflicted headlock. Let me demonstrate.

In 2010 I went downtown to see a band I like. Since the band wasn’t very popular and I decided to go last minute, I couldn’t find anyone to join me. Or so I tell myself.

Now, a lot of us hold the social principle to avoid going to events alone because that’s totally lame. Just ignore it. If this sounds like one of Bridget’s columns from last semester, don’t worry — I’m agreeing with her. Still, this happened to me long before her story, so I had no idea what I was getting into.

There I was going alone to that concert, only to defy a few more thwarting principles along the way.

The band I came to see was the middle of three acts. I can’t explain how the rest of the night progressed the way it did, but after the opening act finished, I found myself hanging out with the band in the back. When some girls came up to us, we had been shooting the breeze long enough to the point where the bass player started pretending I was part of the band.

Then sure enough, when the band I came to see showed up, I was front row. Sure enough (again), I ended up hanging out with that band too.

By the time I left, it was so cold that I was freezing my buns off.

Right on cue, a random girl with her boyfriend yells something cheeky to me about the girls who were talking to the the band and me. I normally wouldn’t talk to strangers, but I was on a roll this night so I said, “Do you want to give me a ride home?”

I also typically don’t get in a stranger’s car late at night, but I scored a ride straight to my apartment.

The point is, be safe, but don’t let principles hold you back. If we let them take over when better sense should, we need to question who we think we believe ourselves to be.

That sounds puzzling, but look, if I walk by an empty bag on the sidewalk and say, “I’m not picking it up because that’s somebody else’s job,” who do I think I think I am? That’s no typo. It’s principles, people.

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