Published December 20, 2007
Many times, people will make a statement like this: “It is not the money; it is the principle of the matter.” Often, this will be the explanation for a behavior that has caused concern on the part of the person making the observation. Maybe a person has been led to believe an item is going to cost a certain amount of money only to discover that the cost is more. It is not that the person cannot pay the additional amount of money, but it is the agreed-to price that has been changed and the person then calls into question the “principle of the matter.” A principle can be defined as; “a rule of conduct, or adherence to integrity, and/or uprightness.” A friend called from another state, the other day, to say he was not going to be voting in this election cycle because of the principle of the matter. It soon was very clear that he is angry and wanted to argue with me about the direction he believes our country is going. He does not like what he has seen in the behavior of people in whom he had put his trust and faith. Trying very hard not to preach to my friend, I listened to his rant about being disappointed and not getting everything he wanted out of the current crop of conservative office holders.
My friend had a laundry list of expectations from the people who currently hold office in Washington. He wants to see all original constructionist judges on the Supreme Court. He wants to see America out of the United Nations. He wants to see a border fence with armed guards keeping all illegal aliens out of the country. He wants to see a quick victory over terrorism globally. He wants to see prayer restored in all public education venues. He wants to see English as the official and only language that is used in America. He expected that abortion would be outlawed by now. Some people who read this article would immediately label my friend from a northern state as an extremist. He told me that he is not going to waste his time going to the polls and voting just to be disappointed by the people once they get into office. When he stopped to take a breath, I asked him a question. “Did you have a political candidate promise you all this list of issues you just ranted through?” I asked. There was a pause, and then he said, “Well, no I did not; I just expected that when I voted for them they were going to do what I wanted them to do.” I then asked him if he felt that maybe he had “unrealistic expectations” since no one had promised to deliver on all those items he had on his list. He would not agree that his expectations were unrealistic. He is ready to hold the feet of the elected office holders to the fire with his personal list of wants. He said finally, “It is the principle of the matter.”
It was at that point that I may have pushed too hard too fast because I started on my rant about being an informed voter. Knowing the issues and knowing the candidates is vital to me when it comes to walking into a voting booth and casting my ballot for a person. Realizing that we have a representative republic where each citizen has the privilege to vote. Understanding that we will not get all we want everytime we vote for someone to hold elective office is vital to not becoming weary with the process. I also reminded my friend that we are voting on a President this time around. Then, for my friend, the next statement was the final straw. I said, “I do not believe you will ever find any candidate that will agree to all the items on your list and be elected to a public office.” It was with that statement that my friend accused me of being a hypocrite. It is unfortunate that I may have lost a friend when I was being everything but a hypocrite because I told him what I really do believe. From where I stand the principle of the matter is: I am going to vote in this election cycle no matter how disappointed I am in the current crop of office holders.
Salt and Light is published by Ethics and Public Affairs
Georgia Baptist Convention
H. Ray Newman, Sr., Specialist
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Duluth GA 30097-4092
For articles, statistics and updates on ethical issues see http://ethics.gabaptist.org Volume 2, Issue 4
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