Doing things the right way
You hear it a lot in sports. “He (or she) plays ball the right way.”
You hear it in business. “Do it right the first time.”
You hear it from your parents. “There’s a right way and a wrong way.”
From a young age we are encouraged to conduct ourselves responsibly, with integrity, to show respect, to be mindful of the feelings of others, and to keep a measure of humility in reserve. It’s like a sixth sense. A sensibility that remains in the background, yet infuses how we go about our day.
However, it seems as though this sensibility is suffering from a diminishing half-life.
Intuitively you would think that, once this sense is established, doing things the right way would become a defining trait. A part of one’s character.
You see it in something as simple as holding the door for another, or letting a driver merge their car in front of yours.
You see it in the worker who, once they realize they’ve made a mistake, tears up their project and starts over. When no one would otherwise know, and without being asked.
You see it in two colleagues who vehemently disagree with one another, yet allow the other to be heard before reaching a consensus on how best to move forward.
But examples such as these are becoming increasingly rare.
Instead, you find the person who must finish first, no matter the cost, and no matter what is left in their wake.
You find the person who cuts corners. Who does the job sloppily, and doesn’t care so long as they’re not caught.
And you find colleagues who can only talk at each other. Never with one another. Who derive satisfaction from tearing the other person down.
A particularly acute example of this behavior can be found in our politics.
The two mainstream parties in the Divided States of America can barely stand to be in the same room with one another. They each live in echo chambers, where the favored opinion is repeated ad nauseum, and where other viewpoints are drowned out by a rising chorus of blather.
And from the socialists to the libertarians there is a feeling that the system is rigged. Everyone, it seems, is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Thus you have the rise of outliers in the early stages of the presidential primaries.
The flashpoint is seen in the anger. Yet if you step closer to the fire you gain an understanding that the underlying grievance is that the political class has lost its ability to do things the right way.
Obstructionism has replaced compromise. Talking things through has become taboo. Instead, there’s a never-ending whirlwind of slights and slurs.
As a result, nothing gets accomplished.
So our roads crumble. Our courts get clogged for lack of jurists. Our schools deteriorate to a shell of their former selves.
And while our politicians wallow in a cesspool of their own making, the rest of us shout from the ramparts that Black Lives Matter. White Lives Matter. Gay Lives Matter. Women’s Lives Matter. Men’s Lives Matter. Poor Lives Matter. Rich Lives Matter.
In the midst of all this noise it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and add to the din. To say and do things we later regret.
“There’s a special place in hell for …”
What if, instead of shouting in anger, or frustration, with the masses, we looked inward and led by example?
What if we recommitted to doing things the right way – to treating each other with dignity and respect, to listen to one another while we honestly debate our differences?
What if, once we have reconnected to our better nature, we demand the same of those who represent us? That would include not only our political leaders at all levels, but also our bosses, our friends, and our neighbors.
Doing this, committing to doing things the right way, will be difficult. The shouting and the finger pointing have become second nature. A form of entertainment and blood sport.
By definition doing things the right way demands that we slow down. To listen and to think.
It requires of us consideration, and an acknowledgement of the human dignity of every person. Seen and unseen. Known and unknown.
We need not accept the status quo, either in ourselves or from others.
And if we succeed in our commitment to doing things the right way, that would represent a true revolution. One that’s sustainable – and worth fighting.