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Principles and Personalities

Updated on June 21, 2015

Which way to go?

Sometimes there is more than one right way to go.
Sometimes there is more than one right way to go. | Source

Standing tall

A wiser man than me once told me to place my principles before personalities. I still am not sure I know exactly what he meant. At first blush it makes sense. The idea of placing rightly held principles of living above that of the personalities involved in any situation. Kind of like the words from the old country western song “if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything”. It suggests the wise instruction we hopefully received as a youth “if Billy your friend ran in front of a train would you follow him”. Of course this was made when we were being scolded for doing something wrong just because all the other kids did it.

So I would like to pause in front of the mirror and pride myself in standing for some principles that I hold dear. I would like my children say in my passing, dad stood for….. That is what men that I respect did with their lives. I want to follow suit. Or do I?

Let us examine the notion of standing tall and unbendable for ideals that we hold dear. Perhaps it is not all it is cracked up to be. Perhaps it leads to more destruction than construction.

Standing tall sure sounds romantic in this song.

Perhaps more standing up for each other and less for ourselves

Wouldn't it be great to be so sure that you were right that you don't even have to listen to others.
Wouldn't it be great to be so sure that you were right that you don't even have to listen to others. | Source

When worlds collide.

Countervailing Ideals

Know that this here is just a natural hard won fact: My home is a peace zone. I neither cotton nor tolerate nor abide by any sort of violence in my home. That is a very difficult thing to achieve. You simply cannot use any sort of violence to establish a peace zone. When I speak of violence I include harsh and hurting use of words. Certainly nothing physical including ugly behavior. It has taken a whole lot of patience and civil discourse to accomplish this reality.

Now just the other day a member of our home engaged in totally unacceptable discourteous behavior. A type of behavior that if allowed would eventually cause great discord and the building of resentments. The behavior occurred outside of the home. And when that member arrived home they deserved a great tongue lashing and a brutal wake up call to the reality of living as a family. And that job belonged to me.

Well there it was. Two competing ideals. In this case the peace and serenity of the home won out. In weighing the competing ideals it was determined that standing up and tall and forceful was secondary to maintaining peace between the personalities involved. We place personalities above principles. And here is the outcome. The offender became contrite and apologetic for the despicable behavior. There was really no need to be bombastic, harsh or dictatorial. The bending whispering Willow was in this case stronger than any Oak could have been.

So we begin to question this notion of unwavering principles.

How about you?

Do you sleep better at night when you have forced your ideals on someone else?

See results

Right or Wrong she stands by me.

Even mountains will crumble to the sea

Love is not subject to the laws of nature.
Love is not subject to the laws of nature. | Source

Because you are soft to the world, does not make you soft.

There was a time when this author walked a few miles in the shoes of a preacher man. And so it came to pass that a few of the members of the Great Generation came to a point of wanting to talk to a man learned in the ways of religion. Do not go to fast here we are not referring here to a preacher man with the formality of the Holy Orders and Last Rites. Just a friend to discuss the closing out of a few of life’s accounts with sincerity. Someone to bounce questions off of and to vent. As strange as it sounds they were kind of looking for an appraisal of the value of their life. To a one they had come to list in the category of liabilities, relationships. They were not so much looking at failures there as regrets as they were questioning the appropriateness of their priorities. Should they have put their personal values above the value of maintaining relationships?

My gut reaction to this issue relates to how I was raised. If a relationship requires you to violate your own principles it is not a relationship worth having. That makes perfect sense doesn’t it? My mother and my father held that view while raising us children. We lived by it.

Please hold this thought.

A really good wife, mom and child of God.

There is a great gal who 100% lives by the above concept in her personal and business relationships. A rudeness or a slight or a broken promise and that is that, the relationship is kaput. I must say she does not have too many friends but she is extremely principled. There is no one who I would trust more in keeping their word. Let us be clear here, there was absolutely no compromise of her values. She even had strained relationships with her family of origin, or no relationship.

Then two relationships happened to her and then a third. First she got married. Then she found and nurtured a relationship with God. And then she had a child. Well quite quickly each of those relationships challenged her previously held principles. But her vows and commitment to those relationships and the love she had eventually caused her to compromise. Something tells me she will not regret her decisions.

Can Peace be an Ideal?

Oh if it were so that I could live in a black and white world.

The Ten Commandments are really cool. They are straightforward rules to live by. We would say that they are written in stone. They are fast and true. They are the basis for so many good and orderly standards of conduct by which to live. And the Golden Rule is likewise a clear and concise statement of how we are to live. We should follow these guiding principles. We should follow them like they are sacrosanct and written in stone.

Oops, Houston we may have a problem. A crazed gunman walks into a room and starts shooting innocent people. There is a loaded gun next to me. The gunman does not see me or the gun. He just reloaded and has twenty more targets trapped. I have a clear shot at him with the gun. THOU SHALL NOT KILL. There it is as plain as day. In order to save twenty innocent I must kill one who is clearly evil. But I am a man of principle and one of my principles is clearly never to kill. I will not bend that rule. I will stand hard and fast on my principle and let other people die, but at least I upheld my principles. Not damned likely. That dude is one dead dude. And I do not even have the principle of putting people before principles.

Make it less traumatic. My daughter comes home two hours after her curfew. Rules are rules in my house and abiding by well set out rules that are there for the betterment of the home is a must. The punishment is two weeks grounded and that was well established and understood and known. She willfully without excuse violated the rules knowing beforehand the consequences. No problem right? I must stand by my principles of discipline and obedience. I cannot waiver on this, I must be the Oak tree.

Senior Prom is in one week. I must stand on my principles and estrange my daughter from me for the next decade. I must stand rigid and cause my daughter to miss a very important rite of passage and building of memories she will never forget? Not damned likely.

Perhaps your scenarios end up differently.

Mine is not to judge. I cannot say what is right for someone else in the above circumstances. But back to that thought I asked you to hold onto. I am afraid that what my parents taught me they lived by. They were not hypocrites. And I am here to tell you that they both went to their graves with dire regrets. It does not change that they lived good lives. Due to Grace it probably does not even change their relationship with God. But it changed forever their relationships with others.

Do we place principles before personalities? Yes we do. And I think we should in the day to day mundane carrying on of life. But there is one principle that raises itself above all others. Love thy neighbor as thyself. In this we find compassion and forgiveness and understanding enough that we should bring our actions into conformity with the principle. And in the final analysis, that means to place people above principles.


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    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      aesta that is a great place to be. I shoot for it but fall short still too much. Gift is the right word for sure.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have come to realize lately that because I am hard on myself, I tend to hold others to the principles I have. I am starting to learn to enjoy people just as they are. Each one is a gift.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Lawrence it forced us to stay home for our big Holiday here. And we have had a great day doing stuff as "just us". Go figure, man plans and God laughs.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      "Been there, done that" about four years ago we lost our house and were in a big mess but keeping the priorities you talk about kept us sane and brought us closer as a family!

      Stick wih them friend, it's worth it in the end.


    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Lawrence we are having some unexpected problems in our structure of a house. Money problems are resulting and much stress. It takes a lot of work to keep the family on even keel during such times. But boy o boyo are we happy that we keep those priorities straight.

      Thank you for your visit and contribution to this hub.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I look forward to your hubs. And usually the first comment after is "Ouch" this one is no exception!

      I've always struggled with the tension between loyalty and forgivness. Most times I like to think I get it right but there are times when its only with a friendly "kick up the backside"

      One thing I have learned is God gave my this family for a reason and thats more important than any principle.

      Thank you


    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Demas, what an eloquent statement of your belief. I do not know what action your principles demand of you. For me it is rather simple. My principles require of me to be a good and faithful husband and father and child. My clear mandate is to uphold the sanctity of my marriage and family. My children are/were all raised by a Father and Mother. No issue has ever presented it to me otherwise, perhaps because of my strong beliefs they have never been tested.

      I have prayed for guidance on the matters you raise. And the guidance has been quite clear. I have not been chosen to make judgment or preach on the matter in any regard. Perhaps some day I will be given discernment such as yours. I kind of envy you your clear cut principles.

      Thank you for bringing the subject of principles into a concrete arena of practical values.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      I believe that the five judges who voted for same sex marriages (something the wording of the Constitution in my opinion made almost inevitable) have set the USA further down the path of turning backs on the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, of families with a man and a woman at the head, of children raised by a mother and a father.

      I have no qualms with two pals loving each other, or two girlfriends, I have concerns about how that love is expressed and the concept that "if it feels good, it is good."

      I hold to values that the Bible has made clear for me: God sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman, and families as ordained of God.

      To me, no license can be a license to do whatever the natural man or woman says is right just because it feels right to them regardless of what the gospel says about it.

      Principles and personalities are involved here, too. In some cases principles must prevail and individuals of whatever persuasion must learn to be true to God rather than their own natural impulses and urges.

      May God bless all His children with righteous joy, and help me to know Him as the judge in judging eternal consequences.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I sure find it interesting and the more I look into it the more I learn. Thank you for coming by and reading and commenting.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      A great topic to choose to write about and you have done it so well. Principles are important and how we adhere to them so that they help us stand up and be who we are. God bless!

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Harish. I am teaching my young son how to "boulder hop", basically the skill of jumping from one big rock to another and not falling. Essential for back country hiking. It gives me great pleasure to see him learn how to balance. And I find myself just like him, learning how to balance these important concepts in life. Thank you for adding your great thoughts.

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 

      3 years ago from New Delhi , India

      When principles become so overbearing and hard that personalities start crying under their heavy weight, and feeling like they are gagged, it is time to rethink over such principles. The reverse is also true : when personalities behave so brazenly as to throw every principle to the wind under the influence of power, or due to their ignorance , one must hold her/his principles tight, and as you said ' one must be the oak tree ' . Eric, this hub is a great analysis of principles and personalities. We must make a fine blending of both to lead right way of living. Loved going through such beautiful words of wisdom and great insight. Thank you for brightening our vision once again.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Denise, I used to think of it as a struggle in life. Then I realized the blessing I had been given. That ability to care and look for discernment between competing courses of action is the real juice in life. I may not do it right but I sure am enjoying trying.

      Thank you for visiting and making such a salient point.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Marlene, you are so right that we must keep in mind why we have principles in the first place. Thank you

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      There will always be a dichotomy of principles that fight against each other. In and of themselves, each one has a place and is well and good. At least, until we come upon another that tells us to do something entirely different, and we can't live both at the same time! Thankfully, the Lord gave us the Spirit to help us discern what to do in these situations. If we listen and follow, no matter what happens, we will not go wrong!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      3 years ago from USA

      Great examples of how sometimes we must be flexible on our principles for the opportunity to do the right thing. The whole idea of principles is to make things better. You are certainly making things better.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you North Wind for such an insightful and engaging comment. You raise great issues that cut to the heart of the matter. I first give thanks for the capability and opportunity to discuss such lofty matters.

      There is a place that I go when faced with balancing what I think is right and what I think will be the most loving. A problem is that it is kind of a conversation killer. Because it takes it out of my thoughts and your thoughts. I pray, meditate, read scripture, pray some more and then listen. I can and will do all that before making decisions of big issues, and it works well. On the smaller instantaneous stuff that comes up in life, not so much. So I have had to establish a default position. Mine is love. When in doubt I fall back on that.

      Now about the concept of being a patsy because of my default position. It seems I have to love myself first. And in that love is respect. I have to respect myself and my values enough not to bend them on whim or simply to take an easier path.

      It is a great balancing act that we must never grow weary of. We must engage it and always try to do better.

      Have a great day and thank you for taking the time to discuss.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      3 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      I can relate to your friend who was very "principled" I was such a person. My motto was 'I don't need enemies in my camp- everything was black or white with no grey in between. I had few friends and liked it that way; the few friends I had possessed the same characteristics I did. We were a tight -nit dependable bunch. As I grew more mature (wisdom not age) I began to wonder why I couldn't tolerate others weaknesses when people tolerated mine. Of course that takes soul searching and spiritual growth. Today I love people for who they are and not what I think they should be.

    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 

      3 years ago from The World (for now)

      This was a very interesting read, Ericdierker. I have to say that I agree and disagree as well! Doesn't the person who puts personalities before principles also have some regrets in life? I have known quite a few who wished that they stood up when they did not and who held onto resentment precisely because they did not stand up for what they believed in.

      Then Simon Peter comes to mind because he was a reed that bends in the wind and yet Jesus called him Peter which is a stone.

      I understand all too well that lady who stood by her principles and had very few friends. I do not know how you can be so sure that she will not regret compromising later in life. (Not that she would regret)

      Then there is the fact that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves which is absolutely true. But what is the evidence of that love? Is it not truth? Wouldn't I want someone to steer me in the correct way if I were straying off the path? If I say nothing then I am not loving someone as I would myself. I believe that there is a way that we can stand for our principles and deal with personalities equally without discord. That can be done with much praying and contemplation but the person who is able will have inner peace and will be blameless before God.

      Once again, very interesting hub.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wow Dora that is a really nice thing for you to say. I used to run around and spout off my mouth just as sure as I could be that I was always right. Age does have its blessings I suppose. I will go and try to "practice what I preach today" Thank you much.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Faith you lift me up. I am afraid I had a bit too much Father's Day chocolate yesterday and I was dragging a bit getting going. But you have kick started me with some extra love in my step, thank you.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, I commend you for always being so balanced in your presentations. I agree with you that "Love thy neighbor as thyself." is a great summary for elevating principles above personalities. The first premise is the principle of love. Great job!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      3 years ago from southern USA

      What a blessing ...two hubs in one day! I saw your other wonderful hub first, and I am here now.

      Dearest Eric, you sure know how to express yourself well and well enough to give us pause to think about the wisdom you have shared through your writing.

      Yes, indeed, let's love our neighbors as ourselves.

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

      God bless you always

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks Clive. "food for thought" is what fills me up. I am a little fat for too much of the other food. Thank you for the Happy wishes, and I assure you it is a happy day.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 

      3 years ago from Jamaica

      good food for thought eric. Happy fathers day to all

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks Eric, I'll accept those kind words even though our Father's Day is in September. You have a great one though.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      John around here we are celebrating Fathers Day. So a happy Father's Day to you. Your children are very lucky to have you, as are all of us here.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for haring this very helpful hub Eric. It i confronting but also makes us take a good look at ourselves. Do our personalities and principles match? "Love thy neighbor as thyself. In this we find compassion and forgiveness and understanding enough that we should bring our actions into conformity with the principle. And in the final analysis, that means to place people above principles." That is a good statement to finish with.


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