Principle Pains

I’m currently facing a huge dilemma.  I’m literally at a crossroads, unsure which route to take.  The choice of path is made more difficult by the fact that I don’t want to be standing here.  It’s cold and isolated.  The ground beneath my feet slices through my skin.  I feel far away from warmth and comfort, I am nowhere near home.

Home!  What loving pictures that word paints in my head, and how my head aches to be there.  My most pressing thoughts are to stay where I am in case an omen or idea should influence which path I take.  Yet the longer I stand here, the more my feet bleed from the shards of stone beneath them, and the more the wind gnaws at my bones.  If I never move, I will inevitably wither and die.  What should I do?

How did I end up in such a dismal place?  Are my convictions sound, or have they been muddied by my ego and stubbornness?  I wish I could separate my self from this quagmire, and fly ahead to judge the right path.  As it is I’m floundering in indecision.  But that’s not strictly true.  I know what to do, but cannot quite muster the courage to forge ahead.

It’s so tempting to go back to the place where I feel comfortable.  Do I really want to pursue this path into unknown territory?   I must have already made that decision, because I’m standing out here now.  I’ve left my comforts.  The question I’m asking myself is, can it get any worse?  Time will tell.

It is far easier to keep your head down and pretend injustice does not exist.  Unfortunately though, I’m one of those people who cannot keep quiet when I perceive that something is amiss.  Speaking out is sticking out.  You find yourself vulnerable and under attack from all sides.  That’s where my stubbornness kicks in.  Once I’ve made my views clear, I cannot back down.  Invariably this means I end up walking away or quitting.

That’s where I am right now.  Standing still in a post-resignation limbo.  There’s still time to go back, to knuckle down and pretend everything is in fact alright.  I could persuade myself and others that I was a little hypersensitive, or wrong.  But my conscience won’t have any of it.  Just when I’m on my way back it nudges me in the ribs and reminds me why I spoke out in the first place.  I spoke out because injustice cannot be ignored.  It boils down to a matter of principle.

Principle!  What a punishing pursuer!  How can you waver when it thrusts itself in your face?  Yet where is mighty Principle now, I ask?  Does Principle make sure I’m safe and warm, does he protect me from my antagonists?  Principle is utterly puny, now that I’m out here shivering, wishing I had never stuck my neck out.

And as I linger at the crossroads I can only lament what I have just thrown away.  Rewarding work, new friends, a healthy challenge, a chance to be truly creative, the knowledge that I was benefiting other people’s lives.  So much to lose for the sake of what?  Principle!  I could still go back.  But there it goes again, the stab of conscience.  It pierces painfully into my complacency before it even has time to form properly.

If  I could dump my sense of right and wrong at this  forked road, my life would be so much simpler.   I could rest easily in my armchair and never be plagued by miscarriages of justice.  I wonder how much of myself I would sacrifice in the process.  Would anybody actually notice if I deliberately left my conscience in this bleak place?  Would I emerge more carefree and easier to talk to?  My mind is wandering away from the subject of my present strife.

The truth is that I have decided to leave a post which was fulfilling hundreds of my dreams.  Why?  Just because I cannot stand by and watch someone getting away with being a bully.  My concerns are not being heeded, so I’m quitting.  As I write this I can’t help smirking at my self-righteousness.  But I am right.  Even if it turns out that I am in fact totally wrong, at least I know that right now I’m being true to myself.

That has decided it for me.  By walking away, I make sure that I remain intact and unscathed.  But how it hurts!  Doing the right thing can be so incredibly painful inside as you see your securities flying away like teapots in a storm.  I tell myself that in the long run I will benefit, but that’s little comfort right now.  Regret is making the pursuit of justice taste bitter.

Well, it’s almost 11pm and I’m facing my chosen path.  One look back towards the path I’ve just left, a few tears, and off I go.  I have broken free, but it’s too soon to tell whether I’m heading for happiness or gloom.