Choose the Right
This one kid I knew would always ask me if I could ever choose the Left, instead, so I didn't go around in circles. The future math teacher in me explained to him that you can still get places by taking three right turns for every left turn you would make... it just takes a lot longer.
Doing the right thing is sometimes more difficult that doing the wrong thing. However, the degree of difficulty of doing the "right" thing is totally based on your personal definition of "right" and "wrong."
My definition of doing what's right meets some pretty basic, but stringent guidelines.
- Don't hurt anyone.
- Don't hurt yourself.
- Try to leave things better than you found them.
- Try to make yourself a better person.
For instance, I blog about my coworkers. While this may be a poor decision on my part, I rationalize that as long as they don't know about it and I only report absolute fact in discussion them, that no harm can come of it. If they did find out about it, I'm sure that they would be very hurt, but since everything I've written is a fact, I simply enjoy the catharsis it provides me.
Am I hurting myself when I drink? Technically alcohol is poison to your body and the feelings that result from it are just symptoms of that. My brother once asked me if I drank, and when I said, "Sometimes," he proceeded to lecture me on how a single drink could do me harm. Oh well... I enjoy drinking, do it in moderation and at socially appropriate times, and don't endanger others. To me, it's the same as eating chocolate, which is also not very good for you.
I believe that I leave things better than I found them. I pick up litter. I adopt animals from shelters. I teach at a school where 90% of the students receive free or reduced lunch (a key indicator of poverty in US schools nationwide). Yet... there always seems like there's more that I can do. I've actually had to cut back on some responsibilities at work because I was trying to do so much that my teaching was suffering.
Making "yourself a better person is vague," but the way I do this is by working on doing all of the things above better and by continuing to educate myself. I think that I'm a good person but am all too aware of my faults. There, too, lies an endless amount of "right" choices to make to make myself a better person.
I have some hard and fast rules (not to harm) and some that are more general (make things better). The commandments in the LDS religion fall into these two categories as well, but there are more specifics and they are more stringent. I think I've lowered my degree of difficulty in choosing the right by leaving the church. The basic ideas are still the same, but some of the specifics where there are hard and fast rules, are no longer there for me.
I guess I decided to choose a few lefts, after all.