The “right thing to do” is really easy to see. All you have to do is ask.
The Wrong Thing…?
(Quite) a few years ago, back when one half of Demonbreun Street in downtown Nashville was still an ugly parking lot, my wife Emily and I used to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Dan McGuinness (now called The Harp And Fiddle // 7-12-17 edit: now Tailgate) – the place where we met and where we had our rehearsal dinner. That ugly parking lot would get so full that cars would be piled up onto the embankment – well off the paved area. As a result, getting into and out of there could be a bit of a maze. Trying to find a place to park could often-times be considered an adventure in itself.
One of the last years that Emily and I took part in the holiday (it might have even been the last time – it was long enough ago now that most of those old St. Patty’s Day celebrations jumble together in my memory) we were heading to our car and noticed that another vehicle nearby had been keyed and had its tires (all of them) slashed. Someone had sprayed something on the windshield. It looked for all intents and purposes as though this car was not going to be going anywhere anytime soon.
We figured out that whoever owned the vehicle must have parked in a space that wasn’t really a parking spot and, due to that afore-mentioned maze characteristic, had – likely unknowingly – blocked the way out for several angry patrons wishing to get home. The result was obviously a nasty backlash that probably cost the vehicle’s owner a lot of money.
And, looking at the destruction of personal property, I felt terrible for that person.
Because, in my mind, even if this person had intentionally blocked the way out (something that didn’t really make sense to me) I didn’t believe that their unfortunate decision warranted full-throttle vandalism (and yes, I am aware that alcohol likely played a factor). In fact, I was certain that – given how ridiculously laid out the parking lot was – it was highly likely that he or she was under the impression that there was a way out on the other side. They probably thought they had gotten lucky and found the last available spot in the lot.
As far as I was concerned, it was something that anyone could have done. Including the people who vandalized the car.
One of our friends had been blocked by this vehicle when attempting to get out. But instead of adding to the damage, he simply wrote a very strongly-worded note and taped it to the windshield. I don’t even know if that was really necessary (particularly since the message was otherwise loud and clear).
What Is The Right Thing To Do?
Often in life we get confused about what the “right thing to do” is. Sometimes we react harshly, perhaps thinking it the best way to show our displeasure. Other times we may react firmly, making our displeasure known by other, less-aggressive means. And sometimes we react compassionately, and give another person the benefit of the doubt. And at other times, we may not know we’re doing anything wrong at all. Yet we still end up getting in the way of everyone else.
Much of the time, the right thing to do is very clear. In those very black and white moments, we either do the right thing, or we go right ahead and do what we know to be wrong (out of greed, selfishness, pride… a whole list of potential reasons, really – we are human after all).
Sometimes though, the right thing might not appear to be so obvious. It’s not something we necessarily feel instinctively. In those moments, the difference between right and wrong can feel like a very complicated concept to try and measure.
But the truth is – it isn’t. The “right thing to do” is really easy to see.
All you have to do is ask.
I don’t mean ask the person next to you, and I don’t mean look up AskJeeves.
I mean stop, take a breath, clear your mind… and ask. Then follow the first thing that comes to you.
You’ll be surprised how right that feels.