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The Right Thing

Several years ago, when I was working as a government attorney, I was punished for doing the right thing. Details aren’t important, but I was asked for a legal opinion, and I gave the best, most truthful answer even though I knew it wasn’t what my client wanted to hear. As a result I was demoted.

It made me think. How can we know how moral we are if we are always rewarded for doing the “right thing?” Can we be sure we did what we did because it was right, or because we anticipated the reward?

I think we begin to know a bit about our moral fiber when we do the right thing and are ignored, but the true test comes when the right thing leads to punishment.

Dr. King understood this. If you have a moment, read his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.”

My wife also understand this. While I was dealing with the hurt from being demoted for doing the right thing, she located and had printed the following, which graces my bulletin board to this day.

“Cowardice asks the question, Is it safe?
expediency asks the question, Is it politic?
vanity asks the question, Is it popular?
but conscience asks the question, Is it right?
and there comes a time when one must take
a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor
popular, but he must take it because his
conscience tells him that it is right…”

Thank you, Dr. King. RIP


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