Hit and Run

12 Aug

Suppose as we approach our car in a parking lot after doing some shopping we see someone has hit it while we were inside.  There is no note anywhere with information about who did it.  There is nothing but a smashed up car we now have to deal with.  We’ve become the victim of a hit and run.  Somebody hit the car and simply drove away.  Unless there is a witness who saw the event and is willing to come forward with information, we’re stuck with the damage and making the repairs.  It’s unethical to damage anyone’s property and not take responsibility for it, but some people don’t care about ethics, or what is right.  And so we have to deal with what’s happened.  It’s cowardly to hit anyone or anything and run away afterward.  And when it happens to us we may feel angry, and frustrated.  There is no way to make things right if the offender has disappeared and we are stuck repairing the situation on our own.

Ethics is an interesting subject.  We define what is right and it’s ethical to maintain the standards we set.  It’s unethical to impose pain and suffering on others and not be accountable for it.  But if we want to we can make all kinds of excuses for bad behavior.  The idea of “situational ethics” comes into play.  It’s a convenient excuse when we know what we did was wrong, but feel the situation warranted it and we shouldn’t be responsible for it.  For instance, we miss an important turn as we’re driving somewhere and need to turn around.  There is a no U turn sign but we look around, don’t see anyone and do it anyway.  The situation called for us to turn around and go back, and since nobody saw us, there’s no harm.  But the problem with embracing situational excuses is there will always be a reason to compromise our values, and if there isn’t we can make one up.  We are what we do and if we want to be ethical and honest we must choose what is right even if nobody is looking.

They say the best way to cook a frog is to put it in cold water and slowly heat it up.  That way the frog won’t resist as the water slowly warms until it’s cooked.  When we make decisions that take us away from what we believe is right and then make excuses for them, we are in the water as it begins to heat up.  The next time a decision comes and we want to step out of our standards a little it will be easier because we’ve already stepped away before.  If we keep taking steps further and further away from where we want to be our perceptions of right and wrong will change and our standards will follow.  And like the frog, we’ll be cooked before we know it.  We have to decide what kind of person we really want to be.  If we want to be firm in our convictions we can’t risk wavering.  We can’t hit and run and hope it won’t matter.  What we do always matters.  We can be strong in making choices that keep us on the road we want to travel and define who we most want to be.

Today if you feel tempted to turn away from your standards just a little to accomplish something, hold fast.  Choose well and be firm in what you know is right.  You will prevail and earn the respect of those around you.  You are worth more than you can imagine and your influence on the world is great.  Make it the best influence it can be.

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