I got these questions from Danielle’s blog Underland to Wonderland, where I came across a post in which she talked about the website Thought Questions and their 365 thought-provoking questions to ask yourself. My friends Katrin, Celeste and Jasmine have also been answering these questions, so be sure to go check out their blogs too!
Day 25: When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards and just do what you know is right?
I think there’s a complex answer to that, and you can absolutely disagree with me in the comments. People say, “The time is always right to do what is right” (a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.), but I think you have to weigh your options carefully when considering how to go about doing what is right. For example, many people in Nazi Germany who helped to hide and/or smuggle Jews away from the Nazis had to be careful about maintaining an outward appearance of loyalty to the government in order to remain in a position to help their neighbors.
I certainly wouldn’t say that you should do the right thing only if it will be personally beneficial, but I think we need to remember that you can’t help others if you are helpless yourself. This is why, in the event of an airplane emergency, you put your own oxygen mask on before helping your neighbor; you can’t help them out if you pass out first.
So, I think that you have to be aware of the risks when trying to do the right thing, so that you can plan accordingly in order to get around those concerns and be more effective. You can’t help other people if you’re in jail or hurt or dying.
I also think that’s important to remember that if you’re trying to help someone else, you might need to proceed cautiously to avoid harming them. If you see someone being bullied, you might want to march right up to their harasser and threaten to report them to the police, but that might lead to negative consequences for the victim. It can be better to quietly help the victim exit the situation and contact the authorities after the fact. Otherwise you risk inflaming the situation and provoking greater violence toward the victim. This is especially true in cases of domestic violence.
What do you think? Are you strategic in doing what you feel is right or do you jump in feet-first, and damn the consequences?