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Do the Right Thing

Updated on April 28, 2016

It is right to help the distressed, to stand up for the weak, to protect the young and the old, to tell a lie when the truth can only cause irreparable damage, to forgo one’s well-being for the wealth and health of the family, to be rude when the intention is pure, etc. It is wrong to take advantage of the innocent and the slow-witted, to be dishonest about one’s true motive, to promise whatever one cannot deliver, to make a better living for one’s family at the expense of the others, etc. In the animal world, there is no right and wrong just doing the only thing that one is capable of – staying alive. Right and wrong are concepts that we, the human species, come up as we are capable of more than just staying alive. In order to enjoy a life of material comfort, happy family and friendly social gatherings, we need to do all the right thing.


The parents teach the kids what is right and what is wrong at a young age. For example,

  1. It is right to help old people to cross the street and it is wrong to throw trash onto the street,

  2. It is right to be honest with one’s intention and wrong to take thing from the other without asking,

  3. It is right to be modest about one’s accomplishment and wrong to exasperate one’s ability,

  4. It is right to speak patiently and politely to the others and wrong to argue with the parents,

  5. It is right to respect other people’s religious belief and wrong to ridicule people’s short-coming,

  6. It is right to keep on guard of other people’s helpful intention and wrong to say bad thing behind people’s back, etc.

    What is right and what is wrong for the basic human interactions in a civilized world are instilled into the young repeatedly. When they grow up into adulthood, they will know how to do the right thing instinctively.


In a civilized society, most of the people have the opportunity to attend 12 years of free education to learn about human civilization from its very beginning. The lessons can be grouped into 3 main fields – history, literature, and science:

  1. History – It teaches not only what the past was like but also what we had done right to allow us to survive to the present and what we had done wrong that came close to terminate our existence.

  2. Literature – It teaches not only the intellectual achievements in expressing our thoughts, imaginations, and observations in words but also how our souls are enriched by the rights we shower to the world and how our souls are wounded by the wrongs we inflict upon one another.

  3. Science – It teaches how to use reason, logic, and objectivity to find solutions to our problems. It can demonstrate how to exploit Nature’s resources the right way to minimize damage to the environment and how wrong course of actions can bring catastrophes to mankind in the future.

    In school, we are taught the importance of doing the right thing, because the survival of our civilization depends on it.

Real World

As the young grows up into adult and is ready to make a living in the real world, one finds that doing all the right things is easy to say than to carry out:

  1. In the social world – Sometimes, we need to hide our true intention for fear that it can be used against us. Sometimes, we need to compromise our principle to be accepted by the others. Sometimes, we have to turn a blind eye to the injustice around us so as not to disrupt our comfortable way of life. A lot of times, we let our emotions to get the better of us to say and or do the wrong thing.

  2. In the professional world – Sometimes, we need to exaggerate what we can do in order to open the door of opportunity. Sometimes, we take short cuts to finish a task due to budgetary and schedule concerns. Sometimes, we engage in elaborate scheme to cover our mistakes in our work to avoid criticisms. A lot of times, we spend company times and use company property for personal purposes.

    In the real world, we learn to live with the wrong things we commit under the different circumstances realization that in an imperfect world, do the right thing all the time is beyond our capabilities.

Big Picture

Our 7000 years of civilization has shown that we had done many wrong things that caused air pollution, deforestation, soil contamination, 2 world wars, extinction of numerous living species, etc. But, we have not only survived but also prospered due to the right things that we had done – population control, environmental protection agenda, human rights enforcement, hunger and natural disaster relief effort, energy conservation and renewable power development, establishment of the United Nations, etc. We learned how to do the right thing only after seeing that what we were doing not only did not help but also could shorten our long term survival. Through trials and errors and our intelligence, we are able to find out what is the right thing to do, how the right thing work, and why doing the right thing is essential to a healthy and happy life into the eternity.


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