Hao jiu bu jian (that literally translates to ‘Long time no see’ in Mandarin. Did you know that the English phrase is coined from the Chinese saying?)
Is there a difference between doing the right thing and the best thing? I’ve been thinking about the possible ramifications of choosing one over the other.
Let’s do some thought experiments to help with this moral conundrum.
#1: One of your friends has hurt you in some way, but they don’t know this. What do you do?
The right thing to do here may be to let said friend know what they did, how you feel about it, and smooth your differences over. That seems fairly straightforward.
But what about the best course of action? That’s left to much more interpretation. Some may argue that it’s best not do anything… let time heal all wounds, don’t jeopardize the friendship, or even let the friendship dwindle into nothingness at this point. Or even get revenge, but that’s left to only the most unscrupulous of individuals.
#2: Your lover betrays you. What do you do?
Ah, here is when it gets trickier. The right action may be to let them go, as the lover has clearly broken a bond of trust that the two of you had. It’s only fair that they don’t get to have their cake -and- eat it, right?
But many would beg to differ. The best outcome is reconciliation, dialogue, understanding, forgiveness. In spite of a wrong being committed, we as humans are more than willing to give those wishing repentance a second chance. Love is a strange concoction that throws convention definitions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ out the window.
I can’t think of many other examples at this point. I’ve been too long out of practice with writing, but I hope to start writing in this blog soon. But on principle I do believe there is a difference between doing the right thing and the best thing. It’s not always easy discern; in fact it’s very difficult in most circumstances. We are all predisposed towards one over the other.
As for myself, I used to be a ‘right’-minded kind of person. But now I find myself leaning towards the ‘best’-outcome scenario. And sometimes that means compromising on my values and what I thought I had once believed in.