When Principles Pass Away

Ali Prince

Recently, the world has found itself in a state of bereavement.  Many persons of influence and importance have suddenly, unexpectedly passed away. Most recently, the world mourns the passing of the great Muhammad Ali. Famed human rights activist & accomplished athlete, Ali is one of the most influential, iconic persons of the 20th & 21st Century.  This sudden loss happens as the global community is still reeling from the emotions upon the passing of another transcendent figure: musical icon, Prince.  In fact, the past few months have held much pain for people.  It seems as if the untimely,  unexpected news of these deaths have sent shockwaves through communities all over the world. People (in particular, people of color) have been forced to engage their heroes in spaces of reflection and reminiscence.  Forced into hindsight reflections by circumstance, we now are left wrestle with what these individuals meant to us.

People have taken to their varying mediums to express sentiments and fond momentos. Memories of milestones and acknowledgment of achievements cover the landscapes of our social media.  But, what seems to be in lesser variety are the cerebrations concerning the values and principles these persons embodied while they shared space on Earth with us.  So much more of the focus ends up on what they did as opposed to who they actually were.

This is a dangerous way for us to immortalize those important to us.  We do a damning disservice to those whom we love when we hold up the memory of them without concurrently holding up the principles central to who they were.  We stain the significance of the people we revere and respect when we laud what they did more than we laud who they were.  The best gift we can give to our brothers and sisters who have departed from us is not exclusive to an emotional homegoing service or a televised tribute.  The highest form of regard and respect we can offer our loved ones, the way we keep them alive despite their absence from us, is to preserve and pass along the principles that that made them who they were.

The sadness of what it means to allow principles to pass is exemplified in the 1st Book of Judges.  The author writes of a failure to pass on the precepts that came before us.  The Bible illustrates that an unsuccessful passing of principles, leads to a unprincipled generation, unaware of the what (or who) that allowed them to be where they are today.  We, as a society, are on the verge of becoming an unprincipled people, lest we start to commemorate our champions by not allowing their beliefs to go unremembered.

How do we lift the memory of Muhammad Ali without lifting the causes he was willing to sacrifice his fame for?  How do we affirm or appreciate the genius of a Prince without synchronously appreciating what lengths he was willing to go (and whom he was willing to fight) in order to protect that genius?  To do so is no different than our brothers & sisters in Christ who preach Jesus but refuse to preach what Jesus preached.

At some point, our mortality will come to an end; we will all one day transition from here to our respective eternities.  While we may inescapably expire, we have a responsibility to pass along the values, beliefs, and ideals of those whom we elevate.  In a time where people of all walks labor to identify an identity for themselves, it is the preservation of principles that will move our culture forward.

None of us have the ability to prevent death when it is time for it to come to us.  What we do have is the ability to not allow to the principiums at the core of our culture to perish.  We must learn to love our heroes more for what they stood for than what they were celebrated for. For in this, we find strength & motivation; our voices are given necessary volume.

The critical causes of our culture die because we let them.  People operate with no direction or devotion…nations act with no accountability or answerability…children walk into destinies devoid of direction when those who were influenced and inspired by the principles of our elders allow those principles to pass away.  We must not allow the popularity of our champions to pacify us; if they meant what we say they did to us, we must not allow their principles to pass away.

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Derrick Holmes

Derrick Holmes is the Senior Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Circleville, Ohio. He regularly attempts to think through intersections of religion, race, and culture. A closet introvert, Derrick presently resides in Columbus, Ohio where his quest for New York style pizza & knishes is ongoing. Follow him on Twitter @mrderrickholmes

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Posted on: June 21, 2016

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