Why Principles Matter?

Mr. Gustavo Páez, Principal of the International Programs at the Western Australian International School System (WASS), shares about the importance of learning and working according to principles.

Dear WASS community, these last few months of study have been dynamic as we have completed many of the evaluation requirements, as well as organizing for the upcoming academic year. We wish to convey a message of making the most of the free time our students will have during the summer. It is important that they rest but maintain routines, be active, and optimize their time so that they do not lose their study habits.

During May, we worked on the value of being principled, a reflection of integrity, honesty, and a sense of justice. Educating based on these principles is fundamental to consolidate a character that defines them as individuals, and to be able to transform their environment. We live in a reality where we question the veracity of things, the integrity of the information we receive, and the actions we take, as well as being fair in every situation. This leaves us room for reflection on how to live under principle and that the decisions that are taken are a reflection of this.

I would like to share the article by Lawrence W. Reed entitled Why Principles Matter?

In one form or another, I hear people suggest that an “open mind” is somehow superior to possessing an opinion or embracing a principle. The only times that’s true, in my view, are when an opinion or a principle is knee-jerk, poorly considered, illogical, untrue, or unfounded.

Opinions and principles are connected, or at least they ought to be. Principles are foundational, and opinions are based at least in part upon them. So think of principles first, and opinions second. Principles are rule sets, guidelines, and fundamental truths. They include axioms, morals, ideals, laws of nature and human behavior, and even the bedrock physical principles of the universe. You have an opinion on something because somewhere along the way you’ve adopted, consciously or subconsciously, a principle or two. Another word for principle is conviction.

This doesn’t mean that one’s principles must necessarily never change. When truth or new evidence (not simply the prevailing winds) suggests it strongly enough, we should change them. In that sense, I suppose, our minds should always be “open,” but that’s no reason to sit on the fence in the meantime.

To be principled is more than just uttering platitudes or high-sounding maxims. To be principled means you put your actions where your mouth is. It’s a sign of good character. To be unprincipled should never be a compliment. If you dodge and weave to avoid principles so you can claim to have an “open mind,” you’ve simply demonstrated how empty your mind really is. And perhaps your soul, as well.

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