This I Believe

Thomas - Spring Branch, Texas
Entered on March 6, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

The “Right Thing”

I believe in doing the “right” thing.

Five or six years ago, I was working as an Electronics Technician onboard a cable laying ship. I was assigned to a repair that in a perfect world would take about two hours, but we were in the North Sea with twenty foot swells, rain, wind and it was cold to boot. Everything did go well until I reached some fiber optic connections. There were five to be made. After six hours I only had three of the five completed. My supervisor came out to the deck dressed in his rain gear and asked what stage the repair was in and how much longer until I finished. I explained that there were only two connections left and it could take another couple of hours, but we could fully operate with three completed connections. Without hesitation he said, “You do what you feel is the right thing, man.” and promptly walked away. His comment shocked me. I fully completed the repair, and we went back to work.

That was the first time anyone had ever challenged my integrity, and it hit me hard. I had never really given much thought to my own values up to that point. I realized that I do believe “I should do the right thing”, and I had felt that way for a long time.

When I was a boy my Dad signed me up for Cub Scouts which in turn led to my joining the Boy Scouts. Before every meeting or gathering we would recite the Scout Oath or The Scout Law, and we were expected to recite either of these when asked.

The Scout Law: A scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

Every now and again my Dad would ask me for the definition to one of the points in the Scout Law, and I would dutifully recite a memorized definition. I know now only after age and experience that what he was really looking for was my definition. Not some memorized line from a book but rather what I felt deep in my heart was the definition to these moral points. It has taken over thirty years to get to this but,

I believe that “Doing the right thing” is how I should simply govern my every day actions by using basic morals – honesty, loyalty, concern, understanding, courtesy, courage, and kindness. All of these things lead to what I know, down in my heart, is right or wrong.

By signing me up for scouts and helping to instill a good set of values, my Dad did what he knew in his heart was “the right thing”. Thirty years later, I know it, too.