The Cost of Principle

 

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
Mahatma Gandhi

As far back as my memory spans I have been consistently concerned with two fundamental ideals: truth and justice. These moral foundations dictate my relationships, diet, lifestyle and career. The dedication to which is a blessing and a curse. I am unable to remain silent in the face of injustice, no matter the breadth or depth. The burden of the messenger is a weight I have adapted to carrying. As Ghandi phrases, do the right thing, what comes of it is not your concern. 

How do I reconcile these principles with Christ’s declaration, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Rabbinical interpretation suggests that the yoke refers to the teachings of a Rabbi. Here, Jesus is inviting others to take after him, saying that his way, his teachings, are easy to follow. He invites us to embrace a life of grace and freedom, absent of judgement and despair.  Is it easy though?

In my studies, I have found the way or yoke of Christ to be quite radical. That is because the truth is radical and Christ was incapable of having a casual relationship with it. Jesus instructs his disciples not just to accept, but to love their enemies, to offer your left cheek if someone slaps your right…There’s a common saying that “it’s not a principle unless it costs you”.  And that is what being a person of truth entails. It costs you popularity, relationships, money, and positions. It also affords you knowledge of self, development of character, and an unwavering faith- all of which can never be taken from you.

 

The older I get the more intent I am about being assertive, not aggressive.  I have learned that people do not respond well to shame, and that guilt is a poor long term motivator. Compassion and grace are much better strategies in the ongoing pursuit of truth and justice.

 

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