The other day when I blogged about principles, I said I don’t often find evidence of real strong principles in most kids, not the code of honor sort of kind, anyway. (Okay, I’ve seen displays of three kids out of hundreds choose to stick by a principle when it was tried.)Well, to prove me wrong, I just had a discussion with a kid yesterday.
To make a long story short, he lied to me and was perfectly comfortable (if a little teary-eyed) lying to me. But when I pointed out that the week before he had promised such and such, the dramatics completely disappeared.
"I promised?" he asked, in the same tone one would say Oh, shit, really?
It totally cracked me up, because in this kid’s value system, he may be comfortable with lying, but breaking a promise, to him, is way in his never-do category. I do wish he would include lying in that category, but I was so proud of such a strong principle at his age, I wanted to hug him right there and then.
I’ve always been fascinated by those in history who have been willing to die--or have died--for their principles or for a truth or a belief.
And we can never really know until we’re tried, but I wonder what principles, if any, I’d be willing to die for. It’s easy (relatively) to die to protect someone else, but to die for a principle? I wonder about that often.
In my estimation, principles have a price. Truth, for example, costs little when it risks little. But if your grade hung on it, if your school hung on it, if your life hung on it, if your family’s life hung on it ... then each person has to decide how much they are willing to pay for their principle.
That, I suspect, is the hardest thing to teach a child.
(You knew I was really talking about writing, right?)
When we force our characters to consider the costs of their principles, their true colors show. And for us authors, the inverse is true: in order to show our character’s character, we have to force them to decide the cost of their principles.
What’s with the deep thoughts, lately? Can you tell I’m in the middle of working through my story in my mind, LOL?