Doing the Right Thing

By Appreciable Goodfaithpoet

In order to have integrity we must be willing to die for it. To do what is right we must overcome the fear of death, pain and rejection. If I am determined not to steal, will my resolve include even stealing food if I am dying of starvation? In the case of starvation I would need to be more determined to endure pain from starvation even to the point of death if I am to follow through on my moral convictions. As I ponder my decision to refrain from stealing I may ponder the social constraints that stop me from committing this crime. I may reason that society will not think ill of me for my crime because I am also saving a life at the same time.
Imagine that you are the driver in a race and you loose control and spin out on the race track. If you were to regain control one second before impact and were limited to the following three choices, which would you choose? Choice number one would be to turn right and hit the concrete wall and thus destroy your car and die in the process. Choice number two would be to continue straight ahead and hit the end of a metal guard-rail and thus save your own life while destroying your car. Choice number three would be to steer the vehicle left and into the crown of spectators who have gathered to watch the event, thus saving your own life and your car and yet killing six or seven of the fans. What would you decide in the small amount of time that you would have?
Many decisions do not come with adequate time to ponder and reflect on the ethical merits of the decisions. In situations like war, one of the biggest tendencies is to just go through with the directions that you have been given with the excuse that there was not time to think about things because if you did you could have been killed yourself. In times of war indecision can be fatal; yet, is that fact an adequate reason for choosing choice number three from the race car driver example?
When we examine the life of Socrates we see a man who was willing, without question, to die for what he believed in. Socrates did have the luxury of sitting in his jail cell for some time, and then after a night of peaceful sleep to discuss his impending execution and the possibility of escape in a rational way with his friend. However, there were moral principles, values and beliefs at play in the heart of Socrates that had been refined for decades. These moments in life do not build the character of the participants so much as they reveal the character of the participants. This process is described very well in the following poem by Edgar A. Guest:

By Edgar A. Guest
Courage Isn't a brilliant dash,
A daring deed in a moment's flash;
It Isn't an instantaneous thing
Born of despair with a sudden spring;

It Isn't a creature of flickered hope
Or the final tug at a slipping rope;
But it's something deep in the soul of man
That is working always to serve some plan.

Courage Isn't the last resort
In the work of life or the game of sport;
It Isn't a thing that man can call
At some future time when he's apt to fall;

If he hasn't it now, he will have it not
When the strain is great and the pace is hot;
For who would strive for a distant goal
Must always have courage within his soul.

Brutal behavior during war as well as courageous action, demonstrate that the time of preparation in exercising sound and good moral judgment, must be cultivated long before the time of need arises. May God strengthen me in my willingness to die rather than to do evil. I hope that in the future, I will not feel the pressure of time constraints or fall into error because of the terror of experiencing death.

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