All of us have non-negotiables. 11 years ago, fresh out of home, when I went to college, my religious beliefs were non-negotiable.

“There is one God eternally existent in three persons, the Bible is His word and The Brethren ( my church) understand it best”

In a year, the last part eroded away. Then the others did too. After a decade , a bare-bones, qualified version of the original statement of faith persists.

The evidence based practice of modern scientific medicine was the non-negotiable then. No way I was going to be a quack.

Then I started practicing medicine and realized that there was much my training was completely useless for.

Some time along the way, I also picked up a love for the free market economic system. And then, that changed too.

Today, some of my old non-negotiables are back, most are new.

Honesty is not always the best policy, but family always comes first. The definition of family has changed, though.

Here’s what I’m saying: If you are doing it right, you will chip away, brutally, at all the things you were taught or believe are the most important things in your life, and then constantly refine the remaining list.

Most of your non-negotiables are negotiable.

9 thoughts on “Non-Negotiable”

  1. i came back for a follow-up comment because of two reasons:

    1. I did not have time to say all what I wanted to, when I made my last comment. Worse, had I said everything, the comment would have become an article in itself, bigger than the blog post.

    2. At times important things look much smaller than the role they play, the stimulation they give, or the guidance they offer. Milestone, for example, are small things in comparison to the seemingly endless highway. But ask the value of the milestone to a weary traveler, and he will explain it. Your post came as a milestone to me. A milestone that has brought me back to a question that I had in my mind for many years: how does a human decide what is important and what is nor. I continue to ponder, and perhaps a new book might come out of it.

    Johnson C. Philip

    1. Dr. Johnson

      I hope there indeed is a book in the making. This is a very important question.

  2. It is interesting to note that each generation passes through the same experience, with the intensity of the experience depending upon a number of factors that are beyond the control of the individual.

    In my generation, keeping movies away at all costs was a non-negotiable, and anyone caught watching a movie was in danger of being removed from active membership of the church. Today, the same people who taught me the no-movie principle spend their affluent retired life watching tele-serials on flat-panel TVs that rival movie-screens in quality and size.

    Worse, each one of us is going to impose upon our children non-negotiables that we are going to break in our own lives. Realizing this, one can take one of three broad paths:

    1. The path of no-teaching, choose-yourself when-you-grow-old philosophy

    2. The path of this-is-essential, and keep your mind closed

    3. The path of this-is-essential, but use-discernment-throughout.

    The third path is the safest, most biblical, and most profitable. It is also the second most costly path. The first path produces anarchy and thus is the most costly. The second one will see our children question some of our values, thus is second most costly. But it is also the best path. The third one will not cost us much. It does not cost much to be a mindless dictator. But it has the danger of producing conformists (good result) who are at the same time probable spiritual/intellectual morons and zombies.

    Dr. Johnson C. Philip

    1. Dr. Johnson, I understand the general idea of your comment, and agree but the last paragraph is a bit confusing, could you explain?

      1. What I meant to say is that there three broad approaches to bring up the children:

        1. Do not teach anything (result, anarchy)
        2. Teach even stupid things dogmatically (result, “good” children, but intellectual zombies)
        3. Teach essentials, ask them to assess them throughout life on objective criteria. (result good children, but they might reject many things taught as essential to them because many “essentials” are basically temporal cultural constructs that change with culture and also with time).

        Johnson C. Philip, PhD

  3. Well said AP, well said indeed. The funniest part is when you take a moment to look back and introspect to the reasons how and why these “non-negotiables” were ever a part of you. Whenever i do that, all i do is laugh at my naiveness and wonder whether this is what is called “Growing Up”

    1. Rahul, this realization of ones naivete and stupidity is surely part of growing up. unless someones just playing a cosmic joke at our expense.

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