Right and wrong.
It is the first lesson we learn in this world and the first lesson we teach our children.
And it is the most important consideration in all things, as it forms the basis for civilization. Not merely a mannered family or a civil community or a just society, it is the basic foundation for a civilized world. It is the line, the chapter and the book.
I tried a whole lot of other comparatives: good and bad, moral and immoral, godly and godless…but they all rest on what is right and what is wrong…and in all things and moments endeavoring to achieve the clarity and justice and humanity of doing the right thing and making the right choice. It is the map of a journey, noble and true, human and humane.
And at the end of the day, if we really think about it, stripping away all dogma and posture and predisposition, we all know what is right. For the right thing is simply the right thing. Does it make everyone happy? No; but it does make more of us better. Does it create advantage for all? No; but it does create greater opportunity. Does it make a moment easy? No; but it does make a lifetime, and living, worthy.
When we lose sight of doing the right thing, making the right choice, taking the right action, we do damage. The wrong decision doesn’t just set us back, it alters our course. It affects lives, effects harm and affects discord. There is no right reason for doing the wrong thing. We can never be fooled into thinking so. We must always seek and encourage anyone and every way to do the right thing. As we were first taught, we expect and depend on those who can and do discern right from wrong.
Navigating the laws and politics and codes created over generations and histories, we confront the challenge of right and wrong, in power and influence wielded, of the suppression of the silent and disregarded…and the subjectivity of decision and rule. Civilizations require objectivity. We should not be moved by the authoritarian but governed by right and with authority and wisdom. Leaders should not simply look to the most similar among them but embrace the most dissimilar. Understanding those most unlike us, acknowledging them, realizing their beliefs and needs in conjunction with our own, is the bedrock of a more perfect union.
As teachers of children, and one another, we must be ever mindful of the noise and action that diminish us and the impact of our voices. When civility and goodwill are ignored, we must stand taller. When tenets of democracy and decency are threatened, we must speak louder. When the hue and fabric of civil discourse are faded and torn, we must step up. Our progress as people and as a people demands nothing less. The journey ahead requires conviction and awareness, empathy and compassion, commitment and concentration…and rests firmly upon the first lessons of our youth.