Let Correct Principles, not Emotion, Govern Your Actions

Sometimes in life you meet people who change your life. Sometimes it is because of the actions of that person, sometimes it is because of something they teach you, and at other times it is because of the example they set.  It is rare in my opinion that you meet someone who influences you for the positive in all three.

I know such a man.  He is the man who is serving as Stake President in our area (for the few readers who don’t know what a Stake Presiedent is; He is the religious leader of roughly 8-9 separate congregations in an LDS Church area).  As you would expect some of the best men serve as Stake President.  But usually my experience they touch my life only on one or two of these aspects.

Today I would like to talk about something this Stake President taught me. Interestingly, his teaching was done in passing and not in a direct lesson.  For me, that means that this isn’t just something he teaches, but rather something he lives.

At the end of almost every email that this Stake President sends he includes as part of his signature the phrase “Let correct principles, not emotion, govern thine behavior.” As far as I know this isn’t a quote from another church leader; it isn’t a quote from scripture.  But rather, this is his personal motto on how he seeks to govern his life, and it shows.

When taken in a religious context, this quote can be helpful for someone, especially in times of a crisis.  One may be tempted to succumb to a temptation.  But if this quote were remembered in the time of the temptation it could give encouragement for the right decision to be made.

And while I certainly accept it as a religious inspiration, I often find that great truths speak to more than just one area of our lives.  I love this quote as it relates to government.  That is why I have changed the quote slightly for the title of this post, because I am intrigued by how it does apply to politics.

Radio talk show host Dennis Prager is known for saying that liberals often vote with their hearts, while conservatives vote with their minds.  Thus, liberal-minded individuals put emotion before principle.  For example, in an attempt to care for the poor, the liberal will vote for a new government program that they feel will help the poor.  And thus, they can have a good feeling about helping out the poor.

However, the conservative is mindful that not all programs accomplish what they intend.  The conservative will also accept old anecdote that you can “give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish you will feed him for a lifetime.” Thus, they will allow the principle that improving the life of the needy is better than providing for them to make yourself feel better.

I love this truth as taught by a Stake President.  I love it from a spiritual perspective.  I also love it from a political perspective.  I look forward to greater understanding of this truth in other aspects of my life as well. I have adopted it as another in the list of personal philosophies for my life.

So, What do you think?