Wednesday 20 August 2014

038) Rather Make The Wrong Decision And Be Right

One of humanity’s great questions is: At what stage do we sacrifice self-principle for self-gain? Almost everybody trades principle for benefit at some stage. Some people are able to hold on just a little longer, while others hardly entertain the notion of principle at all.

How important is principle and why does it always get in the way of things we really want to do?

The Kotzker Rebbe has a profound and rather novel way of looking at the concept of principle. Instead of being that self-righteous ‘nerd’ that always rears its ugly head every time we want to do something exciting or advantageous…principle itself can become just as useful and beneficial. There is a special satisfaction that comes with living a life based on principle. And this satisfaction can often outweigh the advantages of unprincipled gain.

Of course, not everyone can perceive the pleasure and tranquility of living a life based on high standards of principle and integrity - but some will. Knowing that one has the strength to stand by one’s principles is probably one of the sweetest tastes that life has to offer. But it is an acquired taste.

The Kotzker Rebbe says: 
No matter what, never ever regret a decision one made based on principle.
(Amud HaEmet)

This reminds me of something I think Winston Churchill once said: “I'd rather make a bad decision and be right than make a good decision and be wrong.”

Principle becomes a currency that has a value. It becomes a commodity that, through its acquisition, enriches the soul.

It’s no accident that the Kotzker was also one of the greatest proponents of personal independence and freedom, that the Jewish world has ever known. He abhorred the mindless followers of mass movements. These movements had become extremely popular, as numerous Chassidic groups began infiltrating Poland at that time. Their reach and popularity had become almost unprecedented in Jewish history. In his view, being a part of any overbearing and dominating system, albeit Halachically sanctioned, spelt the end of intellectual individualism.

And, in the world of Kotzk, intellectual individualism and independence was at a premium.

It was the dominant currency of Kotzk.

Freedom and independence were also integral to the primacy of principle – because only ADHERENCE TO PRINCIPLE BRINGS TRUE INDEPENDENCE.

As Winston Churchill once did say; “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

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