Saturday, 9 August 2014

Why inspirational messages require a rational context

When you were a kid at school, you probably endured lots of preaching about the virtue of flexibility. Most likely, the moral speeches you heard were accompanied by fulminating diatribes against rigidity. Imprecise is right and exact is boring, you were told. Weightlessness is strength and fragility is solidity.

Without values and commitments, life becomes chaotic

In terms of ethics, this approach leads to the enthronement of relativism as a moral absolute, which is of course absurd, since when anything goes, fuzziness is portrayed as sharpness, ignorance as information, and confusion as wisdom.

On the other hand, look at what happens when we turn our attention from theory to reality. When values and commitments lose their contours, life becomes chaotic. If you doubt my words, talk to anyone who has lived for a while in a country where basic principles have been abandoned:

* CONTRACTS ARE IGNORED. The stories that you read in newspapers about doing business in unstable countries only reflect a small part of the horror. Without people's willingness to keep their word, society simply disintegrates. Without enforceable contracts, all that remains are shady transactions and an extremely high cost of living.

* INSECURITY BECOMES DOMINANT. Once ethics become dispensable, life turns into a race of cheating and abuse. If people begin to question fair, well-functioning agreements that have been long established, everything is up for grabs. When psychological manipulation becomes the currency of the day, any sort of purchase turns into a nightmare.

* MISTAKES GROW WITHOUT LIMIT. Productivity is always the first victim of moral decay. Without honesty, agreements on time, results, and compensation lose all meaning. Reliability and credibility are the best cost-reduction tools in business. When those two disappear, the effort needed to complete any task grows exponentially

Reality is forgiving of innocent mistakes, merciless with dishonesty

All this is, at the same time, bad news and good news. Even if some people advocate moral relativism, you are not obliged to adopt vagueness as personal philosophy. Even if someone persons around you behave dishonestly, you can decide to stay dependable and truthful.

A wise man seeks compromise in negotiations, but only when essential moral principles are left untouched. Reality is forgiving of innocent mistakes, but merciless with those who twist facts and corrupt their soul.

Your peace of mind and self-confidence depend on your rational principles. Stick to them and they will show you the way. For the sake of your present happiness and future health, reject temptation and pass the test. Your decisiveness will be enhanced and your results will improve.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living


[Image by vivek jena under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]