On my way to work with my friend who was driving, we reached a traffic jam near a traffic light. We were emerging from a turn into the main road where my friend was supposed to yield for coming cars. My friend had two right choices and a wrong one. He had to either wait for the traffic light to turn green or wait for all cars to pass and then slowly emerge into the main road, both choices required waiting. His last choice, which happened to be his first to pick, was simply drive into traffic, overtake coming cars, and add up to the traffic jam as everybody else coming from the same side. When asked why, “you wouldn’t get anywhere if you don’t drive like “them””, he said. My friend overlooked an important fact that he also became one of “them”.
Do we need to justify doing the right thing?
Why can’t we just do “right” for being right and not do “wrong” for simply being wrong?
Why do we justify wrong-doing and ignore right?
Maybe because of it’s the norms, maybe because of them, maybe it is just “us”.
Despite all the reasons to undertake a wrong deed, one particular reason stands out from the rest, Lack of Character. Doing the right thing for being the right thing to do requires strong character. A character that is always consistent with what you would advice or wish other to do. How can you get this kind of character? Follow these six steps to help you obtain that strong character:
1- Acknowledge right from wrong: The first step to do the right thing is to actually know right from wrong. Some people do many wrong things and they are so oblivious to it due to bad habit or being around people who do the same things till that habit becomes natural. To acknowledge right from wrong, you must be conscious of what you do by observing your actions. If you forget or overlook a bad habit have someone close to you remind you when you do it.
2- Develop the mental power to change. This can be done by using the power of imagination. Imagine yourself as if you were your own child. Would you accept your child to do what you are about to do? Would you accept him/her smoking? Driving recklessly? Throwing trash on the street?
3- Being rational. After you start to be conscious of your actions you will get into states of mind when your thoughts battle with your emotions. When you are such battles, staying in control of your emotions is very difficult task. Ask yourself why? Why am I feeling what I am feeling? Are my feelings justifiable? if the your actions might harm others, put yourself in others’ shoes and ask yourself: how would I feel if ‘this” was done to me?
4- Just Do it. Control your emotion mechanically. Forcing yourself to do what you think is right and it is rather than what you feel is right and it is not. This will habituate you to right-doing.
5- Commit to “Right”. Any type of commitment takes up time and energy and involved attachment. You must not expect to change in one day, don’t take this task lightly, and make the right environment for change. For example, you can force yourself to quit smoking by making a promise to a friend that you will quit by a certain date if not you will give him/her a dear item that you own. In short, come up with a strategy for commitment whatever suits you.
6- Help your friends, family, and coworkers to change as well. If we start a chain of change, our society will be full of “us” and less of “them”. This will help you stay in the right track. Habits are contagious; what people around you do, you are most likely going to do or at least try. In the other hand, we all have our weak moments and to stay strong we need each other support and encouragements.
Remember being right makes you part of the solution not the problem better yet you will make your world a better world.
Now go, do the right thing.