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Doing the Right Thing (做正确的事)

Upon my first encounter with U.S. education, I was a high schooler, preparing over the summer for my enrollment in Loomis Chaffee the upcoming fall. One thing students have to do at American boarding schools during summer is finishing a list of readings. The book assigned by Loomis Chaffee during that 2011 summer was "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." The book is on bioethics and was selected to tease out the theme for the school year 2011-2012--"Doing the Right Thing."

Almost six years after reading that book, I am still hovered by the idea of "doing the right thing." Some one used to tell me that there might not be right or wrong at all. Although I would admit some truth to that opinion, I think "doing the right thing" is a rather relative concept and it does not mean everyone should do a list of things or act in accordance with a list of rules. How "right" a thing or action is depends on how one looks at it. The essence of "doing the right thing" is not about knowing what is the rightest thing to do, but rather taking action to perform in accordance to what one believes is right. It's about disciplining oneself to unify his thought and action, to make deeds consistent with thoughts and words.

It is not always easy to perform what is the right thing even when one knows it. How many times have we indulged ourselves pursuing a path that we will soon find unjustified using our value system or righteous consciousness. The consequence of a disparity between deeds and thoughts, if severe, has huge negative implications on one's self-confidence and one's self-respect. In a world where many of us are consistently making up our judgment on things and people, ourselves are certainly not exempted from being judged by ourselves. Therefore, when our deed deviates from what we know is the right thing to do, we will not perceive ourselves well and we will not be proud to share what we have done with our friends or tell it to the public, because we know what we have done is wrong by the right/wrong standard of our own. This will accumulate self-guilt at first, which if not stopped, will continue to grow into deeper self-disrespect and self-criticism.

What can we do to do better at aligning our deeds with our value or judgment system. One way is to see ourselves as a separate entity, separating the viewer from the doer. Imagine what will we expect a good friend of us will do in certain situations or what will we expect a TV or fictional character we admire will do that will make us like them more. Such mind-switch trick might be helpful at enabling us to view our judgment system and our deeds more clearly, therefore becoming more aware when two deviate from each other or when two conform very well. The former will push us to correct misdeeds more quickly, the latter will help develop our self-love, self-respect.

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