Archived Articles
Choosing Right from Wrong

Someone once said to me, “You may not always know if a decision you’ll make is right but you always know when it is wrong.”

Whether right or wrong, making choices is often not easy. The tendency is to do what is easy or to satisfy a moment’s desire rather than making the effort to do the right thing. (See Moral Decision Making)

Why choose right? Because every choice we make has attached to it a consequence and that consequence may affect our lifestyle, attitude towards others, reaction to situations, health, religious affiliation, political position, our finances etc.

Doing the right thing may sometimes require personnel sacrifices. It can mean going against the grain or becoming unpopular. Doing what you believe is right even though you may at times be wrong, always means being true to yourself. Deciding for right even, when mistakes are made in the process, leads to self-respect, respect of others and positive outcomes.

“Man is made or unmade by himself.
By the right choice, he ascends.
As a being of power, intelligence, and love,
and the lord of his own thoughts,
he holds the key to every situation.” 
– James Allen (1864-1912, author of As a Man Thinketh)

Conversely, making deliberate poor choices, choosing the wrong, typically ends up with a string of bad experiences and negative consequences.

“It is not truth that matters, but victory.”  ― Adolf Hitler

 It is important to learn how to make the right choices.

It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny. – Jean Nidetch

Harry Emerson Fosdick, a preacher who once served the First Presbyterian Church in New York, and Riverside Church in Manhattan suggested six easy ways to distinguish right from wrong.

Common sense – When you have an important decision to make, think ahead.

Golden Rule -“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This principle means that a person should decide his or her conduct on the basis of whether it would be fair or good if everyone used what was about to be done as a general rule of conduct.

Best Self - What does my Best Self tell me to do? Don’t fall into the trap of trying to rationalize bad behavior.  (Moral relativism)

 “Doing the right thing for someone else occasionally means doing something that feels wrong to you.”
― Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care

Publicity - When you are thinking about making a decision between right and wrong ask yourself this question; “Would I want everyone to know what I am doing right now?” Things that have to be done in secret are generally not healthy.

Mentor – Seek advice from someone or others you trust that has the wisdom and integrity to give you an honest answer.

“When no one understands, that's usually a good sign that you're wrong.”
― Victoria Schwab, Vicious

Foresight. -  Look ahead at issues that may come up. Do ”What If” scenarios.   Foresight makes it unnecessary to take every path to see where it will lead.  It can help to avoid impulsive situations that may lead to negative consequences.

Deep down we usually know exactly what the right thing to do is in any situation.
But if we simply don’t want to do it,

we won’t have any trouble coming up with an endless list of lame excuses to justify not doing it.
In fact, some of the excuses may even seem like really good ones.   
Do the right thing anyway.
That’s what saints are made from.
- Mother Teresa