If following the Prime Directive means being passive-aggressive stupid - to the extent of allowing the rest of the Galaxy to ride roughshod over you - then you have a serious problem.
Principles are good, important to both individuals and cultures. But they are not all that is needed - no person or culture has ever survived genuine danger just by being principled or nice. They survive by being smart, or strong, or adaptable, or sometimes just plain lucky. Especially (but not only) in war.
The point of a principle (the idea that "princes" or rules over others in your worldview) is that you follow it regardless, even if it leads to destruction. Even as a Federation. The collaborating captain (Merrick?) in Bread and Circuses alludes to this - a Captain would rather see his ship destroyed than violate the PD. Kirk doesn't think this way, of course (and neither would I, I believe) - when ship is in danger, you survive first, worry about PD later.
Picard would probably view it more as a "principle" but I'm not a TNG expert.
One thing I keep in mind is this - 'No matter how perfect a principle, creed, law or system might be; its original intent can still be horribly f####d up by over-rigid interpretation and/or sheer smegheadedness.
Im other words: Be flexible, because no matter how much you will kid yourself otherwise, exceptions exist for pretty much everything.
'Not killing' can also be considered a principle (Kirk's "I shall not kill - today...
" speech is one of his best, IMO). There are people who are determined not to kill no matter what, and I do respect them for that.
But, for me, if
it was ever a choice (Ghod forbid) between saving a loved one or taking the life of the person trying to harm them ..... I would do what was necessary - and daresay I would lose very little sleep about it afterwards.
Honesty is another admirable principle, but how rigidly do most of us follow that? Me, I have always held that Honesty Is Not Invariably The Best Policy. There are times when telling the entire unadorned truth benefits no one, and may even cause more harm than good. Believe me, I know this well from a personal family experience that I will not
In short, there are times when you just have to say "#### The Rules. In this case, they are WRONG.
There are, of course, those who would disagree. Some might admire someone going down, because of sticking to some principle. The quarterback of Yale missed his Rhodes scholarship interview because "team" came first. He might have said, "Screw the principle of "team first," I need to do this for me."
Of course when you choose not to follow a rule, you're choosing a different one. Kirk chooses survival of Enterprise over noninterference. Frankly, I have no problem with that. But they shouldn't tout the PD as holy writ if survival trumps it.
What was the originak topic, by the way?