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No skin off my nose!

Discussion in 'Cheeniya's Senile Ramblings' started by Cheeniya, Mar 17, 2007.

  1. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    “Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, well, I have others” once said Groucho Marx. I always wonder if there can be a sentence that typifies flexibility more aptly than this one! I certainly belong to Groucho’s school when it comes to being principled. I frankly do not understand what is it that is called being principled. What does it really involve?

    The axiom, one man’s food is another man’s poison, applies to principles too. Sarojini once exclaimed how much the Government had to spend to keep Gandhiji in poverty! The principled people never really bother about how much hardship they cause to others by their strict adherence to their principles. It is one thing to stand committed to certain strong beliefs and no one can fault anyone on that. But if such a commitment is going to cause hardship to others, then, by being a principled person, we can only cause pain to others.

    Principle is defined as guideline to conduct. It naturally follows that a person’s conduct is determined by what he holds as principles. If the principles are obnoxious, so will the conduct be. If you have a principle that you will not have your morning coffee until you have read your newspaper, it should be ok with everyone but if you have an addendum to it that no one shall have coffee until you have had yours, it creates friction. While the first principle is unobtrusive and does not infringe on others’ rights, the second has a far-reaching effect. It can have a catastrophic chain reaction that may snowball into something on the lines of Mutiny on the Bounty!

    My point is why should anyone be principled at all? Draw a circle around a couple of ants with an anti-termite chalk like Lakshman Rekha and see how miserable they become not knowing which side to go. Our principles have a similar effect on us. The problem is confounded if you have practiced your principles for a fairly long time. Everything becomes a ‘prestige issue’ for you and you find giving in too difficult. I always believe that much of the happiness comes out of our ability to compromise. In Tamil, there is a classic word for too much adherence to principles. It is called ‘varattu gowravam’. I have seen many families ruined by such uncompromising attitude on the part of the heads of families.

    Because of my lack of any principles worth a mention, people call me bohemian and I am sure that they’ll call me something else if I had been a highly principled man. People do not realize that if you are not principled, you do not have to compromise and that’s a great advantage. You don’t have to pace the floor asking yourself ‘To be or not to be!’ I am a Wodehousian at heart. To me it’s a great thing to be able to say, ‘No skin off my nose!’

    I am happy that more and more people are realizing that being a principled person is like climbing Everest with a 50kg iron ball tied to the legs. There are still a few left and I run for cover if I sight them!
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2007
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  2. Vidya24

    Vidya24 Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Cheeniya sir,

    I am all for what you say about principles in life. My parents held many basic values which they lived by, but no philosophical or unshakeable principles which dictated every momnet of their lives. Maybe that is why they lived a simple, serene life full of love all along. They did not talk the talk, just did the difficult part of walking the talk (unspoken though).

    Principles are all too well, but they clutter ones thinking and living. Worst are the so called Gandhians who abstain from almost anything that goes with modern day living- from corruption , to an occasional peg, to sex. It is all well as long as they choose not to marry.

    And on the reverse side, I did not like your example of men who have a jolly ,good roll with 'woh' and then tell their wife what you say they said. I think that is just being cheeky and slick. Being bohemian, being a free spirit, being young at heart does not condone infidelity and definitely does not condone a slick justification of one's sowing of wild oats-principles or no principles, flexibility or no flexibility.

    I am one of your fans who follow your wonderful blogs round IL. While this is another candid piece, I feel it did not live up to the usual Cheeniya standards.

    regards
    Vidya
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Vidya
    That particular sentence was just meant to be a purely jovial end to a serious subject. In our day to day life, we do hear such jokes being forwarded or narrated to us and we just laugh and forget them. Our laughing would not mean that we are supportive of such acts. But I see that there are possibilities that they may be a bit offensive too at times!

    You will observe that I have deleted it! I am happy that you have given me an opportunity to demonstrate how compromising I can be! While it makes me happy that my views are taken seriously, it makes me a bit apprehensive too!

    Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown!
    Sri
     
  4. Vidya24

    Vidya24 Gold IL'ite

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    Hi again! Cheeniya sir,

    Must say I am a bit overwhelmed! At times, my voice is heard only in IL (my husband never hears it leave alone listen to it). This is must be one of the rare occasions where it had a reaction.

    But I feel something of Khomeni sneaking in on me! I am very sorry that my comments made you edit your post. Indusladies is all for freedom of expression within the tenets of Forum Etiquette. And when I remonstrated, my intention was just to voice my feelings, and you have all rights to do the same- jovial/grave, earnest/flippant---.

    All said and done, you are a swell guy,Cheeniya! May your tribe grow!:2thumbsup:

    :wave
    Vidya
     
  5. Kamalji

    Kamalji IL Hall of Fame

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    Sri,

    They say whose thumb bends a lot is felxible in life, and my thumb sure bends a lot.

    I dont eat on Mons and Thurs , i meat Non Veg, so there are 104 such days per year.But well i am flexible, and break the vows 4 or 6 times a year if i am travelling or if going out to restaurants that day.and i dont have guilt pangs .

    You are right about Gandhiji, it took a lot to keep him in poverty.

    He had started an Experiment, called my experiment with truth,which caused a lot of embarassment to Nehru and others.He was very rigid.

    Regards.kamal
     
  6. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Kamalji
    I believe strongly in the theory that our ability to compromise on issues even if they are dear to us will add to the joys of our life. I have followed it all through my professional and domestic life.
    I have also observed that if we killed the happiness of anyone because of our rigid adherence to our principles, we are bound to feel very guilty in the long run!
    Sri
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Vysan

    Vysan Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Sri,

    I saw this thread only today... Thanks to Kamalji...

    Though I partly agree with you that we should not be stubborn with our principles that affect the others.... I will give you few instances...

    My father was working in TNEB for 42 years... He had a very strict principle that he will not accept any bribe and he followed all through his career... He thought us honesty/loyalty/sincerity etc... Now, because of his principle he has to face lot of probs... Now on retirement, one of his friends relative, an auditor asked him to be in his office to look after the admin etc... One day he was asked to hand over a packet to one person in IT Office, as there was no one there to go.... Now, that was his last day in that office... He said this is against my principle... to give/accept bribe...

    In todays world it is very difficult getting anything from the Govt. Dept without giving the cover...

    Because of him or his principles thrust on us.... I cant tell lies...If I try to be diplomatic even a child will know that... It puts me in a lot of tight corners, especially when I go for review meetings... My boss wants me to tell something which I know for sure is not correct... I am always against somebody who takes the company for a ride.... Because of that when the CEO asks me a questions I could neither take the side of my Boss, nor could openly blurt out in the Meetings.... Twice I had a situation where my Bosses(VP) came and told me "You kicked me out Nicely"..... Now where is my fault... Am I wrong in following my principle.... For these people I have slogged....

    So what do you suggest that I have to forget my principles.... Now you can tell me it is you job and for that only you ar paid for....Yes, I am paid for protecting the interest of the Co.... But not for everything.....

    Your advice/suggestions pls..Should I have to be flexible...

    Veda
     
  8. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Veda
    You have raised some very pertinent questions.
    Let me ask you a question. If your company is bidding for a huge order, but the award of the contract will involve some kick-back. This particular order will be highly profitable to your company. Your boss wants you to handle the kick back transaction. If you refuse to handle it on account of your avowed principles, the Company might lose the order. What would be your stand?

    We all have, or at least most of us have certain core principles. It would be very tough for us to compromise on them but at the same time our refusal to compromise on them might hurt someone else very badly. In my opinion, it would be like telling a lie to save a life!

    Adhering to the principles has two dimensions. If we are working for someone, doing what is expected of us is Dharma. Like Karna's 'Senchotrukkadan'. We must do our duty unless we have strong grounds to believe that what we are asked to do will be highly detrimental to our employer's interest. But refusing to do our duty on the grounds of personal ethics is uncalled for as the Lord Himself tells Arjuna.

    This is a long debate Veda. Having said all this, I still maintain that a bit of compromise now and then will impart a lot of joy to all concerned.
    Sri
     
  9. Tamildownunder

    Tamildownunder Bronze IL'ite

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    Dear Chheniya,

    I don't agree with you that 'being principled' troubles others. It troubles not only others, it troubles oneself also. Whenever I have to compromise on certain principles not to trouble others, I face a big agony. My conscience which is the supreme judge does not allow me to be peaceful after compromising on principles. At the same time when I stand on my principles, my conscience looks upon me proudly and I feel a sense of achievement. I feel 'varattu gauravam' is a set of wrong principles.

    My grandfather (mother's father) lived up to the age of 85 and everyone used to admire his principles and they used to say that he lived long because of his principles. He was strict about his diet and he used to trouble others with that. Whenever he used to come and stay with us, I used to go to nearby hotel and buy idlis for his breakfast since he has to have them by 8.00 A.M and in our house with many members we used to take lunch directly at 10.00 A.M or just before going to school or office. But, because of his strict diet routines and he used to get angry if they are not available, he could not stay with anyone for long and he lived the rest of his life alone in the village in spite of having several sons and daughters. If he had slightly relaxed and compromised on his principles, he might have enjoyed the company of people.

    On the lighter side, here is a joke on principles.

    Once at a social gathering, Gladstone said to Disraeli, "I predict, Sir, that you will die either by hanging or of some vile disease".

    Disraeli replied, "That all depends, sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."



    Regards,

    TDU
     
  10. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear TDU
    I do appreciate your views on this. There is a difference between holding on to principles vis a vis one's personal life like in the case of your grandfather. But in today's Corporate set up where we are just a cog in the wheel, it is more difficult to hold on to one's principles if they run counter to the policy of the employer. Please read my reply to Vysan. I wonder if it is wise to resign one's job if he is in an excellent position in a multinational if he is asked to hand over a 'cover' to a Government employee for favours received by the Company!
    I want you to know that I am not advocating an 'unprincipled' life!
    Sri
     

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