What motivates us to do right? Doing right because it's the right thing to do seems to be going out of fashion.
Administrators do "what's right" for the company's bottom line, even if it means cutting staff and services. How many companies in a financial crunch ever considered cutting everyone's pay in proportion to their income-as opposed to decreasing staff?
Think how many jobs could be saved if executive staff took a 10 or 20 percent pay cut and then cut other employees' wages proportionally according to each person's earnings. Maybe if the executives felt the pinch personally, they'd think of more creative, judicious ways to trim their corporate budgets.
Schools try to do "what's right" by adding life skills to their curriculum. Why do they need to do this? Because life skills aren't being taught and reinforced at home. You know-basic things like respect, how to treat classmates and teachers, and how to resolve conflict constructively.
School administrators do "what's right" by quietly telling teachers not to suspend students. It causes too much negative publicity.
Advocacy groups like the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome try to do what's right by lobbying for air space to broadcast public announcements about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.
Alcohol lobbies do "what's right" for their constituency by saying they'll pull their advertising dollars if the public service announcements are aired. Guess who won that struggle.
Thousands of immigrants of all faiths flock to America to practice religious freedom. Yet organizations like the ACLU say they're doing "what's right" by systematically suing groups that display or use Judeo-Christian symbols or deign to pray (voluntarily) in places other than churches or synagogues. The ACLU hands out the Qur'an to Muslims in jail.
It's illegal to ship a pregnant lobster, let alone kill it. But we do "what's right" in allowing abortions when millions of people who can't have children are paying exorbitant prices to adopt children from overseas.
We do "what's right" for farmers by subsidizing them to grow engineered crops and giving them package deals on seeds plus pesticides. The pesticides can leak into groundwater, drift over miles, and cause numerous illnesses.
They also deplete the soil of natural resources. Similar incentives don't exist for organic farmers. But don't bigger, "better" crop yields justify the risk?
We do "what's right" for developing countries by offering help-but all too often it is "western" ideas of help, instead of working within a country's culture and capitalizing on native resources to develop what truly is safe and sustainable for them.
When we stop doing what's right because it's the right thing to do, we risk losing our own rights. The truth is, we have far more responsibilities than rights. We've just lost sight of that. We can't create enough laws, post enough signs, or deploy enough police to make sure everyone does what's right all the time.
Ultimately, that's up to each individual. Doing what's right because it's the right thing to do is self-governance.