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The Right Thing Essay

1032 words - 4 pages

“Doing the right thing” is can be based upon a number of different factors. First, there is generally a sense of what is absolute goodness. These are the absolute moral standards by which we should live our lives, given to us either either by a higher power or our cultural environment. In Christianity, for instance, this is expressed in the Ten Commandments absolute ethical laws divined by God, also shared by other major religions. In secular society, it is the rule of law, the consensus of the majority of society on the regulations by which that society should be governed. Balanced against this sense of absolute goodness is relative goodness. Relative goodness is still a moral rightness but dependent on a situation still agreed upon by society. The act of killing another person is a good example. In most situations, killing another is immoral and illegal. However, in acts of war, self defense, and capital punishment it is defended. Finally, there is subjective goodness. In this scenario, rightness is determined by the rationale of the promoter. Abortion doctor killers may believe they are saving future children. Law abiding society sees them as extremists.
We are born as individuals, yet part of a larger context be it family, group, tribe, culture, organization, nation, world system or whatever it may be. Although we are usually driven to our own individual self-realization achieving the highest potential for ourselves achievement is usually within a context. Our drive is balanced by the rules under which we must live. We usually can't just do our own thing or we'd be branded a renegade or, even worse, criminal. Our rules for right living are generally taught to us by our influences family, religion, school. But we can also be given perversions of those rules by the media and underground society. Then the " right thing" of established society becomes the thing to despise by its alternative culture, which in turn invents its own rules. For every act of conformity to a social good there is an opposing act redefining what is " the right thing." We envy people who make a lot of money, yet we despise greed. However, within the context of the group in which the money-driven work, greed is good. We may frown on selfish wealth, yet on Wall Street that obsessiveness is good. Moreover, greed may actually be doing good for others increasing income for other's retirement, college tuition. Again, what is the " right thing" becomes subject to context. It is right to be competitive but not to cheat towards that end. We are encouraged to make "A's" in school, but not to do so in a dishonorable way. We should care about others, but also teach them to be independent. We should work within the rules, yet be our own person.

A " bad" person may be forgiven if he or she has redeemed themselves...

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