I can understand why a lot of people don't believe in anything too deeply or commit themselves to an idea and/or ideal. It is much easier and one does not have to contend with personal and moral dilemmas. It is a much more fluid and flexible state of being.I suppose in away, that's why people can give themselves over to religion so easily, as it is all laid out in front of them, what is right, what is wrong, how to act, etc. without ever having to make a decision.
This idea of personal choice kinda strikes like the old stuff about free will and all that. But in a way it is true that choices and what we do with them governs our life and ourselves. Not only choosing what to do in a given circumstance, that's too simplistic. But choosing what to believe in, how to act, what is right and what is not. The idea that you CAN have morals and a sense of right and wrong without religion may seem alien to a lot of people, but the reality is that mostly everyone achieves it, especially in this day and age where there's less and less church goers. Obviously we are greatly helped in this by a national code of conduct and set of laws. These laws however have changed and morphed and evolved over the years as society itself has changed.
So the concept of freedom to choose your own ideas and thoughts and principles is kinda of true in essence, but every one of us has been influenced by whichever society we live and grew up in. Add to that personal experiences and you have the whole spectrum of human existence.
Yet remarkably, there's less people with principles that may be assumed. And the reason for this it's because it's hard. And it is hard because of the unpredictability of the consequences of our actions. We fear what these could be, we do not know their ramifications, or its long-term effects. Worst still, what we do is received and perceived by different people in different ways. Such are the complex mechanics of human interaction.
More specifically, I have been thinking about this recently, because I have stood up for what I think is right recently on behalf of someone. I'm sure everyone at some point in their lives must have that choice before them, to stand up for someone. The difficulty here is that sometimes that implies a change of behaviour and relationship with others because of that one person. It is easier to remain neutral or fashionably ambiguous (sitting on the fence!!). There are benefits and dangers to this middle of the road approach, as you may come out unscathed as easy as you may lose both/all persons due to your inability to stand up for one or the other.
So you do. You stand up for someone. You say what has to be said. You act on you have said. This involves determination and sometimes to be quite detached and tough skinned. But, the person that you have stood up for, is not like you, and they either bow out or do something to betray the values for which you have decided to make a stand. I can't help but invoke the film to which I most clearly can identify this feeling with, Primary Colors, with John Travolta and Adrian Lester. The scenes at the end when Lester character realises that the man which he has followed and believed in and deposited his hopes in is not perfect nor is he the ideal he had envisaged. At this stage there only seems to be one way, to abandon everything and go away. And yet, he changes his mind in the end and decides to follow the ideal, the principle, even if it is on the back of a flawed human being.
I thought that was incredibly poignant and relevant, because it shows that we can stand up for people even if they themselves do not hold the same values as us, or at least may not live or have the ability to be able to act on those sets of values.
Having principles is hard, holding to your values and your views and your feelings can be lonely, especially as you are likely to have your own and different from others. This does not mean that yours are more right than somebody elses', but that you should hold onto and act as you see fit according to your own conscience. (although obviously this may contradict with what is accepted by society as a norm, but so long as it is nothing too radical and criminal you should always stand up for what you believe in).
Well, didn't that sound like the end of a perfectly moralistic and cliched american movie...