The Purist and the Pragmatist - Atala Writes

I am the Purist. I am the Pragmatist.

I am the Purist. I believe in the ideal. I believe in absolutes. I believe in rigour. I believe in order. I believe in discipline. I believe in principle.

I am the Pragmatist. I believe in the real. I believe in relatives. I believe in flexibility. I believe in spontaneity. I believe in passion. I believe in tolerance.


I am the Purist. I believe in black and white; good and evil; darkness and light. He who is not for me is against me, and he who is not against me is for me. In the fight for good, there can be no middle ground - that is for wafflers, equivocators and flip-floppers.

I am the Pragmatist. I believe in a continuum of shades of grey; what appears dark to one may appear light to another. My friend's enemy may be my enemy today for this cause, and my friend tomorrow for another cause. Life is too complex to be reduced to dichotomies.

I am the Purist. I believe in the adhering strictly to the rule of law to the letter. I do not believe in exceptions; to make excuses for breaking the law is to weaken the culture of being law-abiding. If a law is unfair, it should be changed, not broken.

I am the Pragmatist. I believe that laws are made for man, and not man for the law. I believe it is important to follow the spirit of the law, rather than the letter. I believe that it is acceptable to bend a law here or break a law there as long as it is done for the good of all.

I am the Purist. I believe in zero-tolerance of any form of corruption and crime, irrespective of where, when, why, how and by whom it is committed. Anything less is an encouragement to would-be criminals to go out and commit crime, and for established criminals to go on committing crime.

I am the Pragmatist. I believe that some progress in fighting corruption and crime is better than none. I believe that all that is needed is to catch and punish enough criminals to discourage the majority of other people from committing crimes - whether or not sacred cows are caught.

I am the Purist. I keep to my word, even if it costs me to do so - this is how to build trust. I say what I mean, and I mean what I say. There is no ambiguity or room for misinterpretation in my statements. If I say that I will meet you at four o'clock, I will meet you at four o'clock. Anything else either signals disrespect or causes needless confusion.

I am the Pragmatist. If I can keep to my word I will - but I will not inconvenience myself to do so. When I talk, I am as clear as I believe I need to be - it is up to you to ensure you understand what I have said. It is more important for me to ensure I have a way of resolving ambiguity later on than to try and be clear upfront. If I tell you I will meet you at four o'clock, I may - or I may not - but even if I do not, we can work something else out.

I am the Purist. When people are striving to achieve a goal, there should just be one goal to achieve - and the standard for that goal should be high. This is so that when people achieve the goal, they know that they have achieved something worth achieving.

I am the Pragmatist. When people are striving to achieve a goal, there should be several goals with varying standards. This is to encourage those people to strive for the goals with lower standards - these people would otherwise be discouraged from striving for a single high standard goal.

I am the Purist. I believe in revolution. The old order must be swept completely away, and must be replaced with a brand new order with no links to the corrupt ways of the past.

I am the Pragmatist. I believe in gradual change. The old order must evolve into the new order to give people a chance to adjust to the new ways.

I am the Purist. I believe in meticulous and careful planning. I believe that all information that is needed should be gathered ahead of time; all details must be worked out ahead of implementation; and all possible things that could go wrong are dealt with so that nothing goes wrong.

I am the Pragmatist. I believe in fault tolerance - in accepting that things will go wrong and fixing them when they do, rather than trying to prevent them from going wrong. I believe in planning to a certain level, then having backup plans B, C and D in case the plan doesn't work.

I am the Purist. I believe in autocracy. The Right Way of doing things should not be compromised simply to satisfy the sentiments of people who are bent on doing things in the Wrong Way.

I am a Pragmatist. I believe in democracy. It is better to have the Right Way of doing things watered down in the process of carrying people along than not to have it done at all because people are opposed to it in its present form.

So - are you more of a Purist...

...or are you more of a Pragmatist?