Positive perspectives and practices for personal growth.

What Are Principles Worth?

death-of-dogma-is-the-birth-of-morality-immanuel-kantMy fiancée and I have an ongoing joke…

I tell her how great Spotify Premium is… how amazingly fantastic it is have unlimited access to zillions of songs for just a monthly subscription of just £9.95…

And just to piss me off, she refuses to join.

She was just offered a three month trial subscription for just 99p (less than 60 cents for those of you who are dependent on Mickey Mouse U.S. Dollars) and d’you what she did?

She refused to join… just to fucking piss me off.

Now, that’s fine by me… it’s been an ongoing joke for the best part of two years.

I say how great Spotify Premium is; she refuses to join even for 99p… just to revel in my simmering irritation.

I mean all the things you could do with 99p:

Park in town for 30 minutes; almost get a £1 lottery scratch card, get half a cappuccino, get an entire Mc Donald’s Cheeseburger, buy a poppy for Remembrance Sunday, pay for someone to assassinate Janet Street-Porter, sponsor Amyl the Punjabi Snow Leopard for an entire week (and get a postcard of her and her cubs looking obliviously but adorably relieved that your donation has saved them from extinction until next year) … the options are almost endless.

This is serious money we’re talking about here. These decisions should never be taken lightly.

You gotta love being in love… it’s a pleasure / pain paradox that’ll probably ultimately drive you crazy.

And ultimately, it ain’t my nose I’m cutting off to spite my face… so why the hell do I care?

But it’s just dawned on me tonight – admittedly after a bottle of wine – that she’s taught me a valuable lesson…

For years, I’ve refused to buy some of my favourite albums because the artists responsible for their creation weren’t willing members of the Spotify Premium subscription catalogue.

How dare they? I thought

You actually want me to buy your album?

Why on God’s green earth should I do that? You should join U2, Madonna and Run DMC and just give me your stuff for free.

After all… I’m paying £9.95 a month to access the World’s collective back catalogue of music. Surely that’s enough? Asking any more than that is just pure Madonna-esque arrogant selfish.

But sometimes what you love is worth more than the principle…

After the best part of 20 years I finally conceded tonight and bought Def Leppard’s Hysteria.

Pour Some Sugar On Me, Animal, Rocket… I’ve been in a rock n’ roll sonically charged ecstasy I haven’t experienced since I was 15.

Why didn’t I buy the album before?

Because I felt I was entitled; because I believed it was narcissistic, jumped up and greedy for a band to go against the tide of free music (after all, it’s pretty much getting to the stage where U2 would pay you to listen to their new albums); because I undervalued what was important to me… undervalued what I loved, what would give me pleasure.

I (possibly like my fiancée, with her refusal to join Spotify) had cut off my nose to spite my face simply in the name on principle.

Principles are important of course… and sometimes standing up for what you believe in can be courageous, moral and character defining; it’s simply the right thing to do regardless of the consequences.

No, Sir Thomas Moore for example, didn’t get his head lobbed off simply because he forgot to say, ‘I recant my Catholicism’.

He wasn’t kicking himself as his head rested uncomfortably but snuggly against the executioner’s chopping block thinking, ‘Duh… why didn’t I just say “I recant my Catholicism”?’

It was a principled decision. He chose not to say it knowing full well the consequences… certain death and a few centuries later, a sainthood.

Other times however, you can find yourself sticking to your principles out of stubborn, unrelenting, trivial and ultimately destructive dogma.

I think the real mark of intelligence, of emotional maturity, is the ability to differentiate between the two.

It’s a lesson I need to work at.


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