When Right is Wrong

Welcome back… I guess? 

This has been a tough day.  First of all this morning I could not get my head around this blog entry and started and stopped several times.  Then I had to up and fly to St. Louis.  So here I sit in my hotel room at 8:30 EST in the evening trying to grind out a challenging blog topic.  I am not complaining, I am just explaining why I am late… but it is still Monday.

Needless to say I am still very antsy about my attempt to tackle such complex and emotionally charged issues.  But I charge forward. As the old proverb goes, fools rush in.

Three blogs ago (10/14) I wrote about a young girl who I saw crying.  I felt deeply that I should dig into the complicated messy issues and dynamics surrounding the situation.  Two blogs ago I copped-out by circling around the girl crying issue with fluff.  And Monday’s blog was the first step in trying to make sense of it all.

Okay, let’s jump into the deep end of the pool. 

I ended the last blog with the troubling statement that our lives, family, community, and society become very unstable when our fundamental beliefs about what is right and wrong differ. 

It is important to note that most differing opinions about right and wrong, although disruptive and messy, won’t break the back of relationships, groups or society. 

But when there are opposing opinions about which core values and beliefs are right and wrong… that is a different matter.  These differences begin to tear the very fabric that unites families, groups or communities.

For the most part throughout America’s history societal norms paralleled fundamental Judeo Christian values.

Side Note: It’s pretty bad when a blog designed to be a forum for light hearted musings uses terminology like “societal norms”.  Uuugh!   This feels weird… and awfully heavy and academic.

Stick with me as we wade through theses heavy societal issues.  Thanks.


Let’s face it, there is always some variance or gaps in beliefs or values with any group of people.   This is actually a very good thing.  The natural tension keeps groups healthy and minimizes the possibility of toppling over the edge of gross error and insanity. 

Unfortunately there are far too many examples of groups or societies that spun out of control when fundamental definitions of right and wrong were violated.

Our minds naturally focus on the most obvious extreme in recent history that of the Nazi regime.  A society that believed killing Jews was not only a good thing but necessary and noble. 

But there are extremes on a much smaller scale that invade small groups, companies, or communities.   What about examples like:

  • Enron where corporate culture dictated deceit, winning at all costs, arrogance and excess. 
  • The Christian communities that spew hate in the name of the Lord.
  • Add your own example

I know I have used this quote before in one of my earlier blogs but it is most relevant here.

“A country cultivates what’s honored there”

   – Plato


What a powerful true statement!  It is a sobering exercise to look at what’s honored in your family, group, club, office or community.   You ought to  try it sometime.

Pandora’s Box

But there remains a fundamental question.  What is the basis or measure by which we calibrate what we believe?

It has to be something beyond the individual.  If not, then anything we deem right is ok.  And if enough people believe the same way then that becomes the standard for right and wrong in the group.

I believe that God has instilled a basic sense of right and wrong in us all.  This has nothing to do with Christianity.  It is part of the DNA of the human spirit.  I know there are atheists for example who believe in honesty, goodness and treating people right.

But I also believe there is evil in the world.  So we are constantly pulled between a higher nature and baser nature. 

So on one level we are all players in this cosmic push and pull and the outcome in the world is manifested in our collective individual adherence to one side of the equation or the other.  So when people of basic like mind come together then things move in that direction, good or bad. 

Whew!  This is getting too heady.  I just hope I am making some level of sense.  Believe it or not I am going to bring this around to the specific situation with the crying girl. 

See you Thursday

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