Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Importance of Principles In The Life Of A Mature Person

[Today's column is given over to one of my favorite, but now defunct publications--The Royal Bank Letter--for a few thoughts about the importance of "principles."  Enjoy!]

The mature person need not be a confirmed conformist. He may be a rugged individualist, but he will be as rugged in his adherence to basic principles as he is in self-reliance. He will recognize, but he will not be afraid of, the fact that there are three great questions in life which he must answer over and over again: is it right or wrong? is it true or false? is it beautiful or ugly?
In answering these questions a man will find principles of far more value to him than a library of books, or a den decorated with diplomas. The principles contribute to his maturity by enlarging his thinking, by helping him to avoid confusion, by rescuing him from prolonged debate. They give him a base for decision and action. They are like the north star, the compass and the lighthouse to a sailor: they keep him on his course despite winds and current and weather.
Some people confuse principles with rules. A principle is something inside one; a rule is an outward restriction. To obey a principle you have to use your mental and moral powers; to obey a rule you have only to do what the rule says. Dr. Frank Crane pointed the difference neatly: "A rule supports us by the arm-pits over life's mountain passes; a principle makes us surefooted."

“On Being a Mature Person,” Royal Bank Letter, 37, no. 12 (December 1956), p. 3.


  1. I really liked this posting! To become like our Father in Heaven, we must become like him, that is becoming men of character and principles that are inline with eternal laws.

    1. Thank you. I'm pleased you enjoyed it and I agree with your assessment.

  2. I'm catching up on reading your blog this morning. I really like this post. I read it to Blaine and he asked me to send it to him. Your writings always give me something to ponder on. Thank you!