Practical Philosophy

The consequence of not doing what you know is right

Lying, cheating, stealing, doing what we know is wrong, all creates a personal “hell” for us. We feel guilt, shame and in the end, resent ourselves for doing it. We know what is right – usually – but doing it is often inconvenient, requires confrontation, or is scary. We have to try. If we don’t we lose a bit of ourselves.

Recently, I went with my girlfriend to a steak restaurant in Chit Lom, Bangkok. We had visited this steak restaurant before, many times. But more recently it had changed ownership. Now, when we walked inside, we were immediately presented with an aquarium tank, filled with 3 small sharks. When you put a shark in a tank, it doesn’t grow. It grows to about 10 inches, instead of 8 feet.

We ate our meal out of convenience, but I regret not walking out. There I was, fine dining next to captive animals that would never see the ocean again in their lifetime. It still puts a bad taste in my mouth. I let it slide. I didn’t do what I knew was right. I lost a bit of my soul.

A few days after this, we had another situation. My girlfriend told me that a security guard at her company car park was exhibiting creepy behaviour. He would follow her car, call her beautiful, and wait while she got out of the car. The final straw came when he knocked on her car window, and said “Happy new year, beautiful”. He then repeated it when she got out of the car.

When my girlfriend said she felt unsafe, it was quite clear what I needed to do. Like before, I knew what the right course of action was. In this case, I needed to confront the security guard. To tell him his behaviour was unprofessional and threatening. To warn him that if he did it again, we would have a serious problem.

So I did it. This time I didn’t let it slide. I did what I knew was right. I confronted him, and he shrank before me like a school-kid, profusely apologising. I did what I knew was right, and because I did this, I came out intact.

3 replies on “The consequence of not doing what you know is right”

[…] It is hard to achieve that which is worth striving for. It can require years, sometimes a lifetime of hard work. To do so requires us to deliberately confront difficulty and face obstacles along our journey. There is no avoiding it. The alternative is to live in fear, or in a double life that we do not wish to live. […]

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