“Do The Right Thing” – How many times have you heard parents, teachers and others say this to you. But the question I put to you is how important “doing the right thing” is to you?
We all know what is the right thing to do in most situations, if not all. Yet doing the right thing is the hardest thing to do especially when it has negative consequences. Let’s consider a few situations and see how you would react:
- Since most of us drive, let’s say you hit a car in the car park but no one saw it. Would you just drive away or wait for the owner or leave a note on the car with your details?
- Another situation: your decision cost your company a lot of money and great embarrassment to your boss but someone else is getting the blame. Would you come forward and own up?
- Last: your boss credits you with a report that he really liked and could mean a possible promotion for you but you did not produce it, someone else did. Would you go along with it or tell the truth?
The greatest movements and changes in history were brought about by few courageous people who did the right thing as they believed that what they stood for was much bigger than the price they would have to pay for doing the right thing.
People like Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Nelson Mandella, through their courage, strength and determination took on well entrenched and sophisticated systems. They saw something that was terribly wrong and decided to do what was right. Many thought they could not succeed – yet they did.
The basic rights, freedom, equality and justice that we enjoy today all came because some people stood up for these rights and did the right thing and made personal sacrifices to deliver these valuable gifts to humanity and we are forever grateful to them.
As mentioned above, how some people, by doing the right thing, have benefited humanity. But in contrast, let’s consider what happens when people do not do the right thing?
- Today we have a financial crisis, that is growing by day, people are losing their jobs and livelihood, Their homes, businesses and factories are closing down, because some people put their profits and bonuses before principles
- We have global warming and other man-made environmental problems because some people put short term gains above social responsibility
- We have extreme poverty in some part of the world, we saw food riots in some countries, because some people put their greed for resources above the needs of others
- We have wars because some people did not want to communicate and reconcile their differences with others
What leads a person to do the right thing is when he or she lives a principle-centered life – a life based on principles and values.
When your life is not guided by principles but by other factors such as individual ambitions, self, work, pleasure, family, spouse, friends, enemies, possessions and money then you have no real power because your strength is based on other people and on external circumstances, which are never reliable. Many of us, in our desire to see ourselves and our personal interests “succeed”, we fail… to do the right thing.
But when you centre your life on correct principles, you take control of your life, your possessions and relationships. You are not threatened by change, or by other people’s opinions as your decisions are based on values and principles that never change.
When a person strives to do what is right, just and fair and lives a principle-centered life, they achieve inner contentment and lead a peaceful life. They may pay a price but in the long run it builds one’s character. When more and more people start to do the same, a strong nation is built.
Successful nations did not get there because of their wealth, natural resources or technology but because they had certain shared values and most of the people abided by them.
If we all do what is right and live according to the universally agreed principles of justice, equality and fairness then this world will be a much better place.
Mushtaq Rehman is a Chartered Accountant and ITIL certified Service Manager. He is currently working as Change Management and Commnunication consultant on IT and process improvement projects. He is also a public speaker and, in his time outside work, runs a Youth Leadership Program.