Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sentiment vs. Principles

"Most men have sentiments, but not principles. The former are temporary sensations, the latter permanent and controlling impressions of goodness and virtue. The former are general and voluntary, and do not rise to the character of virtue. Every one feels them. They flash up spontaneously in every heart. The latter are rules of action, and shape and control our conduct; and it is these that Masonry insists upon." - Albert Pike


We see today the consequences of living in the world of sentiment, of cause and effect. Guiding principles have been tossed aside in favour of what feels good. Sure it feels good to help out a struggling business, bank, or social charity. It feels good when you do it with your own money; of your own free will and accord. When you are forced to pay, it no longer feels good ... right?

Many have said that ignorance is our country's most expensive commodity. We are sure seeing that expense come due today. It is that ignorance that leads many to make poor decisions. It is that ignorance, combined with an attention to sentiment that leads to ruin for so many.

What are the keys to success in life? Enlightenment ... which comes from moral knowledge and principled action. Why do we see so much despair, so many families struggling to get by, so many people out of work? A lack of bravery and devotedness to principled living.

It takes bravery to stand up for your principles. Think about the person who didn't refinance his home in order to install a pool in his back yard. Think about the man who rents an apartment that he can afford. See both as living within their means. Yet around them, advertisements and friends poke and prod the two to "live the American dream." You can have it all, right? Hardly. The friends that taunted them on their way up "the success ladder" are now begging them for help on their way down. Yet will all of this going on around them, the two stood steadfast and lived a principled life.

Look around you. Do you see lives destroyed by sentiment and a lack of principles? Do you read of such calamities in the newspapers? Do they not pull at your heart strings? Would you trade your principled life for their life of sentiment? It is, after all, quite seductive. Resist temptation and stay devoted to your path.

The old charge tells us to circumscribe our desires and keep our passions within due bounds. As it turns out, this is an ancient recipe for success in life.

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