Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.
There was a story in the news this week about a Michigan policeman from the Novi Police Department who resigned and then blew the whistle on the practice (he alleges) of assigning ticket quotas to police officers as a way to raise money for the city. According to him this practice had been going on for some time and the fact that he had to do it had been gnawing away at him. Eventually it got to be too much and he quit, saying this isn’t right.
Many of us suffer through things that we know aren’t right, but we let them slide. Maybe it’s that obnoxious, overly friendly boss at work – the one who’s always touching you. Perhaps it’s being told that you have to put in an extra hour or two “off the clock” at work, if you want to keep your job. Or it could be that you are told not to rock the boat when you report an unwanted advance by a fellow student at college. Maybe you’ve had it up to here and it’s time to stop letting things slide and stand up and say this isn’t right.
I read an article recently about some brave young women who are taking on the administrations of some of America’s largest and most prominent colleges and universities over the issue of rape on campus and the lack of effective action by the school administrations. Their allegations about the prevalence of rape on campus and the lack of enforcement action by school administrations are appalling. Rape is something that no one can make a case for there being any ”right” side; however, the young women have made a very persuasive case that universities would rather sweep this problem under the carpet than deal with it. These women have found a very effective way through the use of some Federal laws to bring financial pressure onto the schools. They refused to back down in the face of stonewalling by the schools because they knew that this isn’t right.
Recently the church leaders in Detroit have been very vocal about trying to get the community behind police efforts to reduce crime in the city, especially the crimes against each other in the neighborhoods. They are speaking out to encourage people to break through the prevailing street culture of distrust in the police and silence in the face of crime and too help the police identify the perpetrators of the violence and drug trafficking in the city. These are the very people who teach and preach every week about what is right and wrong and try to equip their flocks with the ability to tell the difference. Their call is for the citizens to ban together in strength against the gangs and thugs and shout this isn’t right.
There are many times during a day that we face personal decisions that involve deciding what’s the right or wrong thing to do. It can be as simple as deciding whether to discard the wrapping from your lunchtime hamburger by just rolling down the window a tossing it out of the car or wadding it up to take home or back to the office to dispose of properly. Maybe it involves deciding what to say to a friend who has just ask for your help moving this weekend. Do you lie and say that you are already busy or tell them sure, you can help. If you lie, when do you stop yourself and say, this isn’t right.
This discourse is based upon the premise that everyone has some moral compass and can tell right from wrong. I believe that we all have that ability at some point in or lives and that is usually while we are very young; but, some have wandered so far off the track of doing the right things that they can no longer make a valid decision. Some have become so good at rationalizing why they do the wrong things that they now equate their decisions to some sort of right or privilege. They no longer see the other side of the question and have lost the ability to say to them self, this isn’t right.
For most of us; however, it may just be not stopping to think about something long enough or hard enough to let that moral compass kick in. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the rush of daily life that we don’t think before we speak. We end up regretting the words that we’ve spoken or some action that we’ve taken; but not until after the fact. That’s when the advice of Douglas Rushkoff would come in handy when he said –“When things begin accelerating wildly out of control, sometimes patience is the only answer. Press pause.” Wouldn’t it be great if life gave us a big pause button (or maybe a “do-over” button); but it doesn’t. We must supply our on pause button. When we do pause we must also be the judge of going ahead or making the call that this isn’t right.
The last thing that we must do is choose how to act upon that decision. Not everyone can just quit their job because something isn’t right; however, many people work within corporate environments that have policies and processes for reporting things that aren’t right. There are laws that govern boorish behavior in the workplace or which protect those who report malfeasance by fellow workers. In the long run you do more damage to yourself, to your own self-image (to your soul) by going along to get along than you would by taking a stand when you see or experience something wrong. There is no guilt to be suppressed or shame to be dealt with if you stand up and say this isn’t right.
So, what will you do today when you have a decision to make about an action or some words to say to someone? Will you be more cognizant of the right and wrong choices? Will you pause and think about it before you act or will you have to come back to it at the end of the day and admit – that wasn’t right?
You still have time to make the right choices for today.