You Can Do No Wrong

You can do no wrong—it’s not possible.

Think about it. There’s not one time in your life you did something wrong, just for the sake of doing something wrong.

Everybody has an innate sense of right and wrong, and there’s no such thing as a person with no conscience. Everyone has an inner voice that tells them when they’re in the wrong.

When you’re about to make a bad choice, the voice says “No, not that way, this way,” and puts you back on the right path. If it’s wrong, your conscience doesn’t want you to do it. Right? Your conscience won’t let you do it.

Unfortunately, you conscience can be all too easy to ignore, especially when other voices like desire or anger speak louder. You want something and the quickest way to get it seems to be to take it. It’s not that you want to do wrong, it’s that you want something and “wrong” seems the fastest way to achieve gratification.

There’s always some heart of right in anything wrong. Wrong is just the act of twisting right, of doing something right by the worst methods—the wrong methods.

Sometimes it even seems that the conscience itself gets a little mixed up—in a weak moment desire will seem its own reward, anger will make excuses, and you find your emotions telling you that it’s “all right,” that there’s nothing wrong with it or that it’s even a good thing, when at any time before or after you would say it was wrong. Even your conscience can be deceived by what you want.

If only it always spoke as loud and clear as Jiminy Cricket. No one would miss it then. Maybe if it knew how to sing we’d listen more often.

 

The Wrong Way

Think of it this way. I’m sure at some point in the past week you’ve touched a device that uses some form of the screw, even if it’s just the lid of a water bottle or a pickle jar. And admit it, there have been times when you tried to open it the wrong way, and then a voice inside said, “No, not that way stupid, this way.” You with me?

You want the bottle or the jar open, and you’re just trying to get it done quickly, but you end up doing it the wrong way; it’s the wrong way to get what you want, and that voice steps in and corrects you.

We do things like that every day. We skip, we skim, we cut corners; what we want is to get the job done, and we want it as soon as possible. Just think how often that voice steps in and slows you down at just the right moment. Or it reminds you of something you overlooked, keeping you on the right path. And then think how, sometimes, the voice can’t keep up, and your rushed job ends up a failure—and you realize it was the wrong way to get what you really wanted.

You might wonder what I’m getting at. But you see, it makes perfect sense when you think about it. It’s the wrong way to get what you want; so your conscience tells you not to do it, because it’s wrong.  It’s the same thing.

 

The Way to Get What You Want

It’s a simple fact: Your conscience tells you the difference between right and wrong. When you’re doing something wrong, it speaks up.

But let me define that—”wrong.” Wrong means wrong, not just by others, but by yourself: if it’s wrong for others, it’s not the best way to get what you really want. There’s an inherent goodness in all humankind. People may be capable of great defiances of that good, but it’s there, and no matter how wicked the person somewhere in that life you will find that human goodness, however remotely it’s hidden.

Because count upon it, there’s not a soul that really wants to see others suffer; sometimes there are those who think it’s what they want, but it never gives them satisfaction. Nothing worth having is worth having if it hurts someone else, and deep down in the heart everybody knows that. Nobody can ever really be happy at someone else’s expense—if they are, they’re just trying to compensate for their own unhappiness, trying to get what they want, the wrong way.

So even though you may think you want something, and you may think the fastest way to get it is the best, if it’s wrong, your conscience will tell you so. And I know, sometimes it seems hard to obey. But in the long-run we end up with what we really wanted all along without ever consciously realizing it. In the end we always see that the “right” thing was the right way to get what we really wanted.

And, so, that’s why when we do something wrong, we tend to call it a “mistake.” We say “to err is human,” to err, to sin. To sin, to do wrong, to hurt someone—not that we want to do it, but because we convince ourselves it’s justified; this is a “mistake.”

And, okay, without going on a moralist tangent I’ll admit that it’s not quite so simple, there are exceptions; although I’m still not so sure that those exceptions aren’t just extreme cases of the same fundamental principle, that even the most inured of all sinners is simply self-deceived (not that I’m saying that’s an excuse or a justification).

Back to simple fact: The only right way is always the way that does the most good, even if it doesn’t seem to be the most good for you at the time.

And I know all this seems obvious, but when’s the last time you consciously acknowledged it, or acted on it?

 

Listening

You cannot do wrong against your own will—that’s the point I’m trying to get across here. The only time you do wrong is because you think it’s right, because you think it’s how to get what you want, but it never is.

Bear in mind, few mistakes that are easy to make are unchangeable; some mistakes are hard to avoid, sometimes impossible, and for these there’s always forgiveness. But sometimes, there’s no going back on things we’ve done, there’s no righting the wrong—you can’t fix all your mistakes. When it’s big, when it’s important, that’s when you need to be ready to listen to your conscience. But if you can’t handle the little ones, you won’t be prepared for the big ones, will you?

The trouble is, the line is blurry, and it can very often be difficult to know what to do. We’ve all been there time and again. At times like this, all we need to tell the difference between right and wrong is a calm, quiet moment to silence ourselves and listen to that inner Jiminy Cricket. Now we don’t always have that long, and we can’t live our lives in fear of making mistakes. When we have to make a quick decision in a heated moment, we just have to do our best to quiet our mind and silence ourselves, and listen to that voice—it might just be a whisper, but it’s there.

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Categories: Imagining a Better World | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “You Can Do No Wrong

  1. Hm, interesting. I’m not quite sure I agree with your first sentence, because I quite certain I’ve done wrong things for the sake of doing something wrong. I mean, when I partook in underage drinking during after-prom for the sake of partaking in underage drinking (F**K YOU, RULES!), was any part of me, a toe even, ever in the right?

    I guess the best moral reason for the aforementioned crime is “YOLO”, so if that’s true, then I guess what you say is true.

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