Stutzman: The courage to do the right thing

Sometimes I wish people had the guts to just do the right thing.

“We can’t do that because Sally would get upset.”

“I would like to but my hands are tied.”

“We tried doing that before and it didn’t work.”

“It’s a great idea but it would take too much work to see it through.”

We’re very crafty at coming up with excuses. Sometimes it becomes almost second nature and we don’t even realize we do it. This behavior is born of fear of change and comfort with the ordinary; reluctance to upset the status quo; and all kinds of other things including fear of being the odd man out if you open your mouth.

Sometimes it’s because we are lazy and doing the right thing would require more energy. Sometimes it’s because the right thing is complex and we’d prefer the quick and easy route. And sometimes it’s just because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.

We recently watched the Wizard of Oz with our daughter. She was very intrigued by all these characters that were supposedly missing parts that made them whole. The scarecrow needed a brain, the tin man needed a heart, the lion needed courage. In the end the Great and Powerful Oz “gives” them all of these wonderful items to make them complete again. Then they discover that Oz is just a small little man behind a curtain pushing some buttons and the courage, brains, and heart were there all along, they just didn’t realize it. It’s a good reminder that we all have it in us to be great. We may just need an Oz to help us make the realization.

Several times over the past few months I’ve been in different situations where doing the right thing was required in order for me to be happier in the long run; doing the right thing was required for the community to be a better place a few years from now; and doing the right thing was required to make sure someone didn’t make a damaging decision.

On the flip side of this, doing the right thing meant I was going to be nervous and uncomfortable; doing the right thing meant I had to speak up against the popular option; and doing the right thing meant I had to confront someone I care about. It also meant that perhaps I wasn’t doing the right things so I could benefit, I had to do the right thing regardless of how it affected me personally. None of it was easy but it was the right thing to do.

If you never summon the courage to do the right thing nothing really changes. Change is good. Change is necessary. Change is critical to our existence. Not doing the right thing is the same as doing something outright negative.

I think my new motto might become “what is the right thing to do?” Not “What do I want to do,” but when you take personal emotion out of the picture, what is the right thing to do.

My challenge to you today is this: Don’t wait for an Oz. You already have it in you to stand up, speak up, and do the right thing. Complacency is the first step to killing progress. Be a complacency/status quo challenger. Make your life, your community, and your future better by doing the right thing.

Mary Beth Stutzman’s Inspiring A-Town runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Mary Beth on Twitter @mbstutz.