Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking
There are too many people who think that the only thing
that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is
to get caught.
Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish
~ Mark Twain
Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.
~ W. Clement Stone
I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day.
If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters.
Relativity applies to physics, not ethics.
Doing the right thing is not always the popular decision and rarely is it the easy one. All too often people cave, bury their heads in the sand, and take the easy route out rather than confront the real problem head on. Unfortunately I witness this every day. Sometimes the wrongs take the form of what could be perceived as smaller (in)actions; it is the kids at the playground picking on the smaller and more vulnerable children or it is the old man in the grocery store pushing his way to the head of the checkout line. Other times they are actions that take on a larger meaning. It is the cheating spouse who evicts his wife from their own home and it is the drug dealer selling his product on the street corner. And it isn't always individuals. It is companies big and small that don't pay their employees a fair wage, that deny safe working conditions, and stop making deposits into counted upon retirement funds. And then there is the biggest granddaddy of them all; national governments that bully, bribe, and corrupt their way to making their leaders rich while their people suffer.
In so many cases it is simply easier to look the other way. Not addressing the bullying on the playground is easier that taking a personal stake in helping to raise our next generation. After all, in today's world, it takes a village to raise a child and it should be every one's responsibility to keep all of our children safe. Allowing people to push their way to the head of the checkout line probably seems minor but where does this pushing behavior stop? When they speed through traffic, double and triple park, or run the red light because they don't thinking the laws apply to them? We are all busy and often in a rush but the line must be drawn somewhere. Not obeying, and enforcing the laws, endangers us all.
It is so easy to assume the actions of the adulterers, abusers, and drug pushers have no impact on our own personal lives. If we blame the victims, decide it is a personal issue, or not our problem we can look the other way with a relatively clear conscience. Yes? Maybe? No? We can ignore or simply chose not to think about it. Large retail discount stores that sell their imported goods for mere pennies must be making a profit. Isn't it easier to not think about the source of these items and reap the substantial discounts than wonder about the people toiling away assembling these goods? Corruption at all levels occurs when people put themselves ahead of the cause they are supposed to be serving. Rather that work to fight the wrongs it is all too often easier (and maybe safer?) to join the wrong doing than it is to take a stand against it. What does this say about our society?
Does the bully on the playground grow up to be the adult who runs the red lights, takes advantages of his employees and bribes his way into power? Maybe or maybe not but I doubt adults wake up one day and suddenly display all these bad (and illegal) behaviors. Behaviors are learned and perpetuated and as citizens of the world, eventually they will affect us at some level. So where does it end? If each and every one of us would simply decide to not look the other way, to address the problems as we see them, and confront the wrongs we see, I think we would all be better off as individuals, as society, and as a world.