My dad once told me to stand by my principles...but also to make sure I didn't have a lot of them. So I took his advice. I don't murder and I don't steal. Hey, it's a start, OK?
When I read about people who have their own set of principles and then put their money where their mouth is, I really take notice. Jon Speed, the owner of a small used bookstore in Syracuse, New York, is one of those guys. Speed ardently opposes abortion.
I'm personally a pro-choice guy. But that's not relevant. Speed feels differently and I respect that point of view. He's been active in the pro-life movement. Over the past few years he helped make an anti-abortion documentary called Babies Are Murdered Here and he's working on a sequel. He's very vocal about his beliefs. I'm assuming he's protested abortion without turning to violence, and I have no reason to believe otherwise.
"I'm pro-life mainly because I'm a Christian," Speed told Faithwire, a religious-oriented online publisher. "And because I understand that murder is wrong. What I understand from prenatal science is that clearly--and even from what the Bible says--that the baby in the womb is a baby, it's a human life."
Speed's pro-life sentiment was taken to another level this week, after the New York state legislature passed a new law that allows non-physicians to conduct abortions, thereby making the practice more accessible to women who seek one.
Most business owners I know, including myself, don't mix their personal beliefs with their commercial practices. That's because it's a risky game. Hang a cross in your lobby, close for a Jewish holiday, or stick a political sign on your company's walkway and you're tempting potential customers who may not be like-minded to take their business somewhere else.
But Speed seems to have no problem with that. This week he closed his bookstore for a full day so that no sales taxes would be incurred by him as a protest to the law. He also hung a sign on the shop's front door which makes no secret of his opposition to the law.
"I really felt like I needed to do something," Speed said. "I obviously can't stop paying sales tax to the state of New York. I can't change what happened, but I can certainly register my displeasure with it and how upset about it I am."
OK, I realize this not a huge thing--one day will probably not make a big difference to the guy's business and the demonstration was mostly symbolic. I also realize that some may accuse him of just doing a PR stunt to attract attention. But I don't think that's what's going on here. Whereas I'm passionate about the Philadelphia Phillies, going to the movies, and sushi, Speed is passionate about things that--well--kind of matter a little bit more. And he's willing to put both himself and his business out there. By doing so, he may anger people who don't agree with him and it could affect his profits.
According to the Faithwire report, some of Speed's customers were "ticked off" by the closure. But he says he has received a "huge response" from pro-lifers online. So yes, Speed lost money that day--and he may have lost some customers as well. But he seems to have bigger things on his mind then just selling a few books. For him, it's not just about his small business, but something greater. I don't necessarily agree with his beliefs but I'm jealous of his passion and commitment.