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The utility of principles

“We don’t have much time, Kadife,” he said.  He could hear that strange note of dread in his voice.  “I know you’re bright enough and sensitive enough to get through all this with grace.  I’m saying this to you as someone who’s spent years as a political exile.  Listen to me: Life’s not about principles, it’s about happiness.”

“But if you don’t have any principles, and if you don’t have faith, you can’t be happy at all,” said Kadife.

“That’s true.  But in a brutal country like ours where human life is cheap, it’s stupid to destroy yourself for the sake of your beliefs.  Beliefs, high ideals – only people living in rich countries can enjoy such luxuries.”

“Actually, it’s the other way round.  In a poor country, the only consolation people can have is the one that comes from their beliefs.”

Ka wanted to say, But the things they believe aren’t true! but he managed to hold his tongue.

From Snow by Orhan Pamuk on pages 312-313, in a conversation on whether or not Kadife should bare her head.

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