Do the right thing. It seems both easy and obvious, but it has been my experience that doing the right thing is, for many people, neither easy nor obvious. David and I have recently experienced the passing of several people we know. One person was a dear friend for many years; one was the step-father of a dear friend; and one was the mother of a long time client, whom we consider our friend. Each circumstance, while different in the closeness of our relationship with the person who passed away, had one thing in common: David’s and my choice to do the right thing. The first passing, of our close friend, had David and me springing into action. We purchased supplies, then delivered them to our friend’s grieving widow, to help her host all of the out of town family and friends who would be gathering in her home. David has been counseling various members of our friend’s family; he was asked to provide poster sized photos of our friend to display at the celebration of life; and, of course, we attended the celebration of life in honor of our friend. When we learned of another dear friend’s step-father’s death, we sent a sympathy card to our friend and her mother and on the day I am writing this post, we attended the funeral. And, on the way to work after the funeral, we mailed a sympathy card to our out of town client whose mother passed away. None of these things brought David or me any joy or happiness. Who enjoys attending funerals, memorial services, or celebrations of life? But, we often do things for other people’s benefit, even when we do not enjoy them. Both David and I were raised by southern, church going, parents who instilled in us the practice of “doing the right thing.” Doing the right thing, when I was growing up, included visiting sick, frail, or elderly family friends who were unable to leave their home. Doing the right thing meant taking food to someone who was hungry, someone who was grieving, or someone who needed to see a friendly face. Doing the right thing meant visiting people on Christmas Day who, absent seeing Mom and me, saw no one. Doing the right thing meant thanking people after staying in their home, or following a meal they paid for or prepared for us, or after receiving a gift from them. Doing the right thing then, and now, means helping people who need my help, showing appreciation to people who help me, and in general, being kind hearted. Some of my friends call me old fashioned; others say I am rather formal in my conduct; while others say I am prim and proper. I am glad to have these attributes and I am glad David shares my desire to do the right thing!
I find it surprising that doing the right thing doesn’t come naturally to everyone. This surprise makes me realize that my parents taught some fundamental concepts to my brothers and me which transcend many situations. The right things Melissa described just seemed “necessary” to us – we did them knowing that the thing we did was what needed to be done. Maybe there was or is more to do, but ignoring the situation or doing less was not an option. These right things may create some form of positive Karma, or as my mother used to say, will result in jewels for your crown in Heaven. I don’t know what compels one to do the right thing other than some ingrained sense of what is right; clearly, not everyone has that sense of rightness. But, for me, and, I can’t speak for Melissa, it creates a sense that I haven’t turned a blind eye – that I’ve made an effort to whatever end. It is the social norm and leaving it unmet would create a sense of disharmony for me. Because we are both so inclined, we complement each other in knowing there is a right thing to be done. Showing concern for others comes naturally to Melissa and me. If it pays off only in personal satisfaction, that is just fine with us.