Sunday, November 28, 2010

A message to my son about lying, consequences, and responsibility.

"Lies may take you forward, but never back" - From a movie, original source unknown.
In other words, you might be able to use lies to gain things in life (items, power, status), but you can't take lies back and that makes them dangerous. Telling the truth is ideally the best choice, but once you've made a bad decision, it may not seem that way and that's why it's so important to make good decisions to begin with.

One [oversimplified] way to decide if a decision is good, is to see if you answer yes to more than 5 of the following tests:

Am I really willing to deal with any negative consequences?
Am I prepared to take responsibility?
Would it be good for me?
Would it be good for other people it effects?
Is it lawful?
Is it moral?
Is it ethical?

If you can only answer yes to 3 of these things, it's likely not a good decision.

consequences: Can be good and bad. They're the result or effects of some other action or decision. If you drop a rock on your foot, the consequences will likely be an injury, time lost dealing with the injury, medical expenses, time lost while healing, etc...  On the other hand, making a good decision can have good consequences. For example if you choose to save money and invest it well, you'll earn more money and that would be a positive consequence.

responsibility: Most simply put, "the ability to respond". Here in the US though, that's not how much people see it. For example, if you're walking down the street and see a man who is starving and you have enough food (or money to buy food) to spare, you have the ability to respond by giving him food. That sounds very simple, but as you get older, you'll find more and more reasons it isn't. On the other end of the spectrum you'll find people saying, "that starving man isn't my responsibility" because his situation isn't a consequence of my choices or actions (assuming that's true of course). I think we need to have a well conditioned "sense of responsibility" where we can find somewhere in between. Where we will respond when we have the ability, but we don't become overwhelmed by the world around us either.


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