ClearNet | Onion

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Following Your Principles - 2016/11/07
Often times as a society we idealize those who follow their principles (so long as those principles conform to what society believes is correct or normal/non-extreme). We can see this whenever you see a news article about someone who lives in what is almost poverty because they donate all their possessions and wealth to charity and the poor, or a person who refuses to go to Walmart because of the way they treat their workers. Yet this only applies to when these people are strangers, people we barely (if at all) know. Yet, when they are someone close to us we think they're crazy or that they're taking things too seriously, bringing it to an extreme. This is a double-standard that we often times have, and it creates an inconsistency that simply is not acceptable. If you believe in something, it is fine if you want to be moderate in exchange for personal convenience, but do not shun others close to you that are more consistent with these principles than you are and then put the stranger who does the same on a pedestal.

When someone close to us is trying to be as consistent as possible with their principles we cannot blame them for their consistency. We may disagree or be indifferent to their cause, in which case it is the cause that must be criticized and not the consistency. For example, many criticize Che Guevara who did not let his family use his government car, which not even he used, reason being that the car was given to him for being part of the Cuban government, and he did not believe that it was right for him to use such a luxury instead of taking the bus just like all the other Cubans. One may disagree with his cause, but his consistency cannot be denied nor should it be criticized.

In many cases following your principles can also cause you to grow further apart from the people that are close to you, especially as your principles begin to affect elements that you have in common with those people. If you are one that will not buy nor use anything that comes from Walmart due to their mistreatment of their workers then it is likely that you will have issues with family and friends who are indifferent to this. This is something that all parties must take into account, those being the individual trying to be consistent with their own beliefs, and those around them that are affected by this. Those around the individual cannot impose their views and opinions on the individual, but neither can the individual do the same. Therefore the individual must be willing, if those around him/her are not willing to cooperate, to give up certain aspects of a relationship between the individual and these people. This is the price of consistency and the price of truly acting on your beliefs.

In my case this affects me mostly in the area of Free Software, in which I am constantly going through non-free programs that I use and trying to find freedom respecting alternatives. This is normally not an issue (no one cares, aside from joking, what browser, editor, word processor, or music player I use). However, when this software begins to be software for communications, such as video conferencing software, messaging software, social networking, etc., it begins to affect your relationships with those around you. It's already been a while since I've deleted my Facebook, and by doing so I have cut ties with many people who I only had contact with via Facebook, yet I feel it was something necessary for me to be consistent with my beliefs.

Therefore, do I expect others to conform to my beliefs? No, I do not believe that forcing them is the right thing. However, neither should they force me just because of their convenience. One could say that the choice made because of principle has much more value than one made out of convenience. So I will continue to eradicate any non-free programs that I may still use in favor of a freedom respecting alternative, and if those around me wish to follow that is fine, but if not then they must not try to stop me either if they have no counter-argument to my beliefs.


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