Doing the Right Thing


Why is it so hard to do the right thing?  Why do people struggle with this concept?

Greed?  Selfishness?  Just plain, old-fashioned sin?

Then again, what is “right”?

Ah, this last one we could conceivably argue all the livelong day.  For many days, even.  But there are some things which are, yes, I’m going to say it, black and white. 

Take theft, for example.  No one would disagree that stealing is wrong, but many would consider the reason behind it.  This, however, the reason, does not make it right.  It may excuse the behavior, it may invite leniency, but it doesn’t change the fact that stealing is wrong.

What if a man were starving, and stole a loaf of bread out of hunger?  This is common example, we’ve all heard or used it.  Well, I say, why didn’t he first ask?  Why didn’t he make use of one social service program or another to feed himself?  Sure, applying for food stamps takes weeks and the paperwork is interminable, but he could start there, and move on to a soup kitchen or a food bank.  Or, he could simply ask someone for a meal or a snack to tide him over.

One would feel sorry for this man, and most, I think, would help.  Why don’t people simply ask?  Pride?  Or just degeneracy?  Of course, I have to think that most people would have done something long before they get in this position, but some don’t plan, sometimes things happen unexpectedly, and there could be other reasons as well.

But stealing is still wrong.  Someone else has worked for and earned the item in question, and another person is not entitled to have it, just because.

Jumping far to the other side of the subject, what’s this we hear about, continuously, this “wealth preservation”?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t really have any to “preserve”; I understand some do.  The question of right, in this instance, involves a more personal preference, an opinion, if you will, as to how one wishes to dispose of his possessions.  He basically has two choices – hang on to enough to live for however many years he has remaining, and spend the rest, or hang on to it all, period, so he can leave something to his children or grandchildren.

Of course, the trick is knowing how much longer you have, and therefore how much you need.  And, too, if one chooses to spend it all, he may have a very short period in which to accomplish this – no one knows for sure when his time has come.

Let’s be more specific: a man left money to his wife and his two daughters.  Whatever was left, after his wife passed away, was to be split.  A trustee was supposed to “preserve” the principal.  He chose to spend it.  Why?  What stopped him from doing the right thing?  Well, I kind of think he’s a jerk, but that’s really no defense.  Or reason.  Just a lame excuse.

We could speculate that the wife had more than a little something to do with it – after all, most of the principal was spent on her.  But that might open up a whole new lawsuit.

Because yes, folks, there is a lawsuit.  Naturally.  Because so many people have an apparent inability to do the right thing.  In a nutshell, we tried to stop the financial bleeding, they opposed this.  Of course they would, it was taking money “from” them; now, granted, money they weren’t exactly entitled to, because the man in question had made the decision what to do with what HE had earned, but the attorney working on this deal had a financial interest as well.  Unethical?  You bet!

Again, NOT the right thing to do.  But who is going to call them on this?  Well, I did.  Didn’t do any good, and you know why?  Because there are no sanctions against people who do the wrong thing.  None.  Why, again?  Because our world has become a do-your-own-thing place, a world where everyone is “right” and good and bad, wrong and right, are relative.  Wouldn’t want to offend anyone, now would we?

What about duty and honor?  These words/concepts seem to be dead as well.  I’m not going to ask why, because I really have no idea – except, perhaps, to direct your attention to the preceding paragraph.  That might be it.

Does one have a duty to his children?  Of course, but one must first define the extent of that duty.  Does one have a duty to “preserve his wealth” for those children?  Probably not – his wealth, his choice, really.  Of course, once he’s deceased, all bets are off and whoever is left in charge calls the shots.

What about property?  Property can be anything from great-grandmother’s wedding rings to old family china to actual property, as in real estate.  Someone who possessed honor and had a sense of duty to his family would strive to pass these things along to the next generation.  Again, in spite of intentions, once the individual is gone it’s all left to others.  And, if those “others” don’t exhibit these qualities, again, all bets are off.

Of course, sometimes, even those still living lack a sense of duty and honor when it comes to family history.  Their attitude is somewhere along the lines of “it’s MINE” and, because of that, “I can do whatever I want!”  Both assertions are true, but both also show a lack of integrity.

Long story short or, rather, long blog long, one should ponder how and where and why he is in this life, and consider those who came before and actually made that life possible; and, too, think of those who came afterwards and who will remember him in a certain way – with pride, or with disappointment.  When you’re part of a family, you have a responsibility to preserve and maintain the history, for those who are also part of that tradition.  You don’t get to be selfish and you don’t get to do whatever you want.  That’s part of the price of living, because without those who came before you, well, duh – you wouldn’t be here!

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