I have thought a lot about the term “correct principles” since Charles Buell and I had our somewhat tedious exchange on the subject.
You can read it here – http://activerain.com/blogsview/922326/Is-your-belief-a-Bully
And you might as well, no one else did… But I digress.
A very important question Charles asks is, outside of religious contexts, how one goes about “sorting out exactly what constitutes 'correct principles'?"
Our word “principle” comes from the Latin words “principium”, meaning “source,” and “princeps,’ literally meaning “he who takes first place.” We derive many words from those etymological roots. The principal is the source of a loan. The prince is first in line for the throne. And so on. A principle is the foundation, a basis, on which other things are built. Principles are the first considerations.
What, then, are the correct things to take first place, to be considered first, outside of the religious context?
If I am going to build a house, and if I do not employ correct principles and give it a proper and strong foundation, the weight of the house will cause the foundation to crack or sink or move or leak. The house therefore is not founded on correct principles of proper engineering. It might last many years, but other problems will creep in and it will not be as good a house as it could otherwise be. It cannot last.
If I do not provide this house with proper materials and angles and connections which shed or divert or collect or eliminate water, I will have employed an incorrect principle of physics – kinetic force and gravity and fluid dynamics. My house will be destroyed with rot and mold. It cannot last.
If I do not provide this house with properly-sized materials – lumber, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, and so forth – I will have employed incorrect principles and nothing will function as it should. If I do not utilize professional techniques in my construction, it will not only look less attractive, but be poorly done. My house will be uncomfortable, or break under load stresses, or burn, or flood. It cannot last.
If I build a deck or addition and do not use a mathematical technique to make it square (Mr. Pythagoras’s theorem – AA + BB = CC) and do not sink its columns deep enough, it will not be strong, or aesthetic to look at. It cannot last.
What if I try to teach correct principles but not to their fullest. Suppose I try to teach my child to tie his own shoe laces? The correct principles of self sufficiency, self esteem, even mathematics, would be evident would they not? But what if to finish the knot, I teach this child to tie a double-half hitch instead of a bow. Not only would the knot slip, but it would be difficult to untie. A proper bow is a square knot, which is strong enough not to slip easily and can be untied with one pull. I have taught a correct principle, but one not fully applied.
This is what I meant in my last post that if we teach someone correct principles they can govern themselves.
You can tell a correct principle because it lasts!
There can be further secular application.
Having the benevolence to give someone a fish when they are hungry is a correct principle – but not fully applied. What if in addition to the fish, I teach that person how to fish? Then that person can be self governing. It is something that lasts.
But what if, under the guise of benevolence, I give someone money when they need. It is a kind thing to do. But what if there are no strings attached, or no end in sight? What then? Would they not come to expect that money, regularly and on time, and have less of a tendency to go out and learn how to provide their own money? Would they not feel entitled to that money, perhaps generation after generation? Is that a correct principle that lasts?
But what if, under the guise of political benevolence, I create a “community development” plan, or later a “community reinvestment” plan (!) so many people can buy their own houses? And I make it easy to get as much money as it takes to buy the house of someone’s dreams. I have said, “Here, now you can run before you have learned to walk!” These people have not learned correct principles of saving, or having enough income, or budgeting, or making regular long-term installment payments, or being honest in contractual arrangements, or a host of other principles. They are not ready. Is that a correct principle that lasts?
But what if, I make it worse. What if I force banks to discard their former rules for lending, rules which have been developed over centuries, and bend those rules, to lend without proper income verification or identity, offering below-market (subsidized), or 0%!, interest rates, or even documentation? And what if I create agencies to buy up this bad paper, bundle it, and resell its derivatives as investment-grade securities? And force insurance companies to insure these huge (non)assets? Is that a correct principle that lasts?
But what if, under the guise of political benevolence, I want to do lots and lots of which I think are "good" things, particularly for the “poor” who cannot afford them on their own? But in order to do these "good" things I must impose ever-increasing taxes and fees on the most productive and transfer this money to the unproductive? More and more would likely become unproductive and feel entitled to those “good” things! Eventually the productive would become less productive, having less money or incentive for production, and more people would be taking these taxes than actually pay them. Is that a correct principle that lasts?
I could go on and on and on. So where does the extra mile come in? Under Roman rule, a subject was required by law to carry a soldier’s sword or shield for a Roman mile, or 1,000 paces, upon request. There were severe penalties if one did not comply. Subjects were, essentially, slaves to the Roman authority.
Jesus suggested that when so requested, a subject should carry the load not only one mile, but a second as well. But why would anyone do that?
During the second mile, the legal obligation has already been satisfied. The load can be returned to the Roman authority at any time. In this second mile, who then is master, and who is slave?
This is not a religious concept. It is a foundation. It can be the source of much that follows.
Not all correct principles are religious, but are they not founded in ever-lasting concepts? Religion has to come into play.
Jesus was, and is, all about the correct principle of self mastery. Of governing oneself. Of self discipline (disciple?). Of teaching and learning and applying correct principles because they last. Of learning obedience to these correct principles (He has given many guidelines!). He offers this way because it lasts.
Properly applied, He says they can last forever.
When we see the application of incorrect principles, under the guise of benevolence, or stimulus, or great society, or philosophy, or whatever, the understanding that they are incorrect and cannot last, the belief that they are incorrect and cannot last, and standing up to them, is not bullying.
It is our duty – that is if we want our society to last…
And standing up to them is, in fact, kind and loving.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560