Sometimes I have wanted to run away from doing the right thing. You see, in all honesty, I am attracted to a simple, easy life. This is a good thing for me. I enjoy it. But every once in a while I have to do the “right thing” and that is not always the easy thing.
I have very mixed feelings about “right and wrong”. It is not difficult for me to decide them. In fact I find it very easy to pick what is “right and wrong” for myself. But I find it a near impossible task to choose what is “right or wrong” for others. I am not, to borrow a popular phrase, “my brothers keeper”. I am simply trying to do what I believe is right in my own life. But sometimes we must have a collective understanding of what is “right”. The very basis of our society (the rule of law) is based on such a common understanding and agreement.
I am talking about the moral and ethical dilemmas that occur in life from time to time. I will give you an example. I was friends with a couple. I had separate and unique friendships with them each as individuals plus I enjoyed them as a couple. When one of them chose to have secret liaisons and confide in me I faced an untenable dilemma. I had to keep a secret and felt complicit in the deceit. I struggled for many days over what was the “right thing” to do. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to tell. It would have been easier for me. I would not have any guilt. I would have released myself from feeling complicit. But in fact this was not the “right thing” to do.
The right thing is that we each own our relationships. We each are responsible to honour our word and commitments. It is not up to another to hold us accountable. It is up to us to be the navigator of our own destiny and clearly indicate the direction we are headed to all who either share or cross our path. So I had to hold my own counsel. I instead took a lot of negative energy on by keeping the secret. I chose to help my friend own up to his own choices and behaviour. I chose to accept the naivete of the other partner when they made excuses for the actions of their spouse whom they suspected of infidelity but could not give voice too.
Finally, in the end, perhaps inevitably, the relationship ended and that was difficult and complicated for them and also for me. But I was eventually rewarded when the partner who was deceived one day told me that he both understood and respected my ability to keep a secret that was really not my burden to carry. Needless to say it is he and not the other that remains my good friend to this day. I would like to say that there is always a happy ending to the “right thing” but alas I think we each need to make our peace with what we believe to be right. As we and we alone are the best judge of that.