8.04.2012

Will I Do the Right Thing

I had some stimulating back-and-forth with a Facebook friend of mine who read my post last month about the Penn State scandal and was confused as to why I would be so equivocating about what my response would be if I were in the same situation.  My post was poorly worded in that it didn't clearly convey what I was thinking, which was:

(1) While it's obvious what I should do, I wonder what, in the heat of the moment, I would do;

(2) The things these leaders put above these children's welfare (self-preservation, allegiance to a friend, loyalty to a hallowed institution) are not inherently bad things and in fact are inherently good things (they are just bad when they are put ahead of stopping evil from happening), which makes it all the more difficult to reject them in order to do the right thing; and

(3) Because of (1) and (2), and because the stakes can be high, it is therefore useful for me to give my own heart a good hard look to make sure I am ready to do the right thing should the situation arise.

As a follow-up, a few words about (1) above.  We often focus on moral gray areas, in which it is uncertain what is the right thing to do.  I wonder, though, if more often than not there is no doubt at all as to what one should do.  What is in doubt is whether we will actually do that right thing, or if we will hide or delay or forget instead.

We live in a society in which relativism reigns.  Its proponents suggest that it is the better way to peace and love and harmony.  But this is not so if it leads to a culture in which we are unwilling to accept that there are certain moral absolutes, that most ethical dilemmas are in fact not dilemmas at all, and knowing what the right thing to do is obvious.  I am convinced that we will be healthier if, instead of acting as if "I'm OK, you're OK, we're all OK," we are unequivocal about what is absolutely wrong, gird ourselves to actually do what we know we should do, and in doing so keep watch over each other and especially over the most vulnerable among us. 






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