As a kid of the 80’s the phrase “Always Do The Right Thing” reminds me of the Spike Lee “Joint” of the same name (Joint is the name Spike Lee uses instead of the word movie).
Much like the short video clip the advice is simple and poignant. ALWAYS do the right thing. It seems as though the simple things are the most difficult things. Do not judge. Love your neighbor. Slow to Anger. Quick to Forgive. Short and simple, yet powerful.
As we discussed Righteousness at our monthly Six Sided Men’s event yesterday, one aspect that Jason Toy mentioned resonated with me and many others. It was the perception that Righteousness was doing what was just. It is not a person doing something good but doing what a person should.
It reminded me of an experience with that same idea I had earlier this week when I heard a man say he did something simply because it was the right thing to do.
The most poignant event (outside of my baptism and the creation of my family) I have ever been a part of was 9/11. I was not there physically in New York City but like many I watched helplessly as it unfolded. It impacted me to the depths of my soul as I had been to and fallen in love with New York City. I had very good friends who lived and worked there.
There is not much about that day or the days relative to it that I do not remember. One of the moments etched into my memory was watching a lady on television, through tears produced from a depth of sorrow impossible to quantify, saying slowly with horror in her voice, “They’re jumping…oh my God they’re jumping.” Very few events spark a level of intense unbridled emotion in people like that one. Osama bin Laden became the face of the source of blame for that event and all that has transpired since.
On May 2, 2011 he was killed during a mission led by Admiral William McRaven. A recently published article about the mission was done by CNN and interviews Admiral McRaven.
Admiral McRaven was the guest of honor and “Legend” interviewed for Texas Children’s Cancer Center’s An Evening with a Legend on Tuesday night. The SEAL is the now the Chancellor for the University of Texas and is retired from United States Navy after just short of 38 years of faithful honorable service.
The event is set in an interview style and during the questions the burial of Osama bin Laden was brought up because of an order Admiral McRaven had given in regards to that specific situation. He insisted that Osama bin Laden be given the proper Islamic burial in accordance with those customs and beliefs. This of course begged the question as to why? The interviewer asked that question and Admiral McRaven stated simply, “…because it was the right thing to do.” Would anyone have questioned him for not doing the “right” thing? Where would the cries of injustice come from? I doubt anyone would have said much of anything about it. However, because he did the act itself has an unquantifiable and undeniable meaning.
Did Admiral McRaven want to do that? I will not speak for him but for most the sentiment of a proper burial for Osama bin Laden would probably not have been the first thought. Probably not even the second…however, whenever the right thing to do becomes apparent it is simply just that.
During that same event Admiral McRaven donated the $10 Wanted poster of Bin Laden that hung in his command headquarters to be auctioned. His troops wanted him to have it when they finally got bin Laden. He had even mentioned that out of all the accolades and awards his favorite were those from his men. Donating the poster was not planned and completely his idea. It was a piece of not just his personal history but of our country. He was that moved by what he saw in the halls of Texas Children’s Cancer Center. It raised $100,000 for Pediatric Cancer Research and was purchased by man whose wife worked at the World Trade Center. She missed going to work on September 11, 2001 because she had an OB/GYN appointment that morning.
Because I have an awesome wife who has worked in Development for the last 22 years, I got to meet Admiral McrRaven after the event. While talking to him, I found out he led a mission in 1996 to go after Abu Nidal in Bahrain that involved my ship (USS Rushmore LSD-47) and the SEAL Team we had attached to us. It was a small world moment for my shipmates and myself that answered a 20 year old question. It took him a few minutes to remember but he eventually recalled the mission as well as the name of target. I had gotten to know the SEALs but true to form they did not tell us who the target was only saying he was not the nicest guy you would ever meet.
It again reinforced for me the importance of doing the right thing. Could he have blown me off? Did he have to take extra time after the even to even talk to me or others? Did he have to donate the Wanted Poster? No…we do not HAVE to do the right thing. The great majority of the time not doing the right thing goes unaccounted for and many times unheralded. The benefit is not meant for the person doing right thing after all.
All I can hope for is as I am challenged in my life going forward that I have the consistent and never compromising ability to Glorify God and ALWAYS do the right thing. To embrace Righteousness not just as something I “have” to do but want to do regardless of what I may feel personally. After all we are not Righteous because of ourselves but through the presence of God in our lives.
Member, Six-Sided Men