Man needs to know what he can trade off and what he cannot lose. You might lose a dream or forsake a wish, but do not lose yourself. In fact, the dream you lose can be remade; but certain things cannot be lost or shaken. Man cannot lose himself.
Principles are part and parcel of man. They shape his motives and channel his decisions. They express his thoughts, approaches, and, in turn, his behavior. Therefore, if you are interested in people’s behavior, search for their principles. It is said, “Be a follower when it comes to appearances. But, when it comes to principles, be as solid as a rock.” Appearances differ from one society or one era to another, but principles remain unchanged.
Religions call for adopting correct values and principles, such as, love, mercy, peace, justice, honesty, faithfulness, and so on. These make us positive human beings who strive to build sound societies. Man grows by delving deep into these principles, abiding by and implementing them wisely.
Man learns principles from his family and school. He should learn how to abide them deeply and moderately at the same time, that is, giving priority to content over form, and without any extremism. For instance, when we look into freedom, we will find that some people consider it doing whatever man wants without borders or limits even if this disrupts others’ freedom. On the other hand, those who count freedom their lives’ principle understand it deeply and never test their limits.
Righteous Joseph is a man who had a principle and was ready to give up his life for it. He was chaste. So much so that he did not care about being hurt to preserve his purity. Thus, we learn that abiding by one’s principles requires being convinced that they lead us eventually to true success. This needs struggle as well.
Principles make man’s life less hard. Many people had human principles which echoed in the four corners of the world, thus making them a light that illuminates others’ lives. We cannot but remember Gandhi who struggled to liberate his country without losing his humanity. There is also Abraham Lincoln who refused slavery and set slaves free. There are many examples. So, be human, or die as you try!
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center