I’m 73 years old, and I can say without reservation that understanding and staying true to my values has worked out for me — maybe not always in the short run — but definitely in the long term. In my early 20s, as an Army officer in Vietnam, I had to choose to both understand and to live by the values I had learned from my parents.
That experience ultimately formed me as I am today (warts and all) and taught me a lesson that has helped me maintain the core of my value system over the years: wishful thinking and self-delusion are the enemies of conscience and can delude you into excusing violations of your own value system. They should be guarded against because they create a slippery slope that is very hard to climb back up. The easy way is not always the best way and you need to continually re-evaluate your assumptions and motivation. It ultimately pays off. The previous 24 years of my life have been the best yet.
Please pardon an old man’s preaching.