We all have a sense of what the right thing is. But trouble sets in when context is considered giving some people completely different ideas about what to do with regards to the right thing. The biggest influencers on what we think is right or wrong are, undoubtedly, our faith, social norms and unique circumstances. In most cases, all these factors are intertwined and produce interesting situations with perceivable knock-on effects on societal well-being.
For example, in the majority of our countries in Africa where we have adopted Christianity as the dominant religion, it is considered that the right thing is to have a marriage in which only one man and woman exist. Yet in the same societies Christian men have taken on multiple women, supposedly under customary law and other social systems best known to them and still keep their church-wed wives. Confusion set in when these first generation Christian men also remained cultural men on the inside. They knew the right thing according to Christian beliefs and so are in violation, yet felt constrained by societal norms giving them different ideas of right.
Recently I had an interesting conversation with an elderly someone that I respect for many reasons except this one.
He was talking about the discord between his two sets of grown up children born by two different mothers. Somehow when they were younger the differences weren’t that huge between them, but admittedly a crack had appeared and now it was a rift. In his reasoning it was because everyone now had a mind of his or her own and felt free to express it. He confessed to me that he was guilty of the choices he had made and acknowledged that these were costly errors. He said many men in our society had done the same thing but it was not right whichever way you looked at it. He was regretful for he was seeing how it comes back to bite. The negative stories depicting the drama between half-brothers and half-sisters (half-siblings) are a hot conversation topic in our societies.
It was the negative consequences that he was looking at that gave him the right perspective according to the Christian faith that he professes. If a man, not a Moslem nor a polygamist, should take on multiple women, let him know that he will face greater tension, friction and difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships with all of them simultaneously. More often than not, when he passes, there will be conflict between the wedded wife and her children against the rest of his other wives and other children. They will be called illegitimate children and conferred a negative social reputation. They will be barred from making any claims from their father’s estate. But how can a child have no status vis a vis a parent? How can he /she not be legit?
In conclusion, don’t wait for such negative consequences. Listen to that voice of reason in your head that whispers to you when you are doing the wrong thing. Even though you see yourself getting away with murder so to speak, listen and do the right thing without compromising on your beliefs and standards. By so doing you will make progress towards more harmonious living