October 21, 1992

Legal Plus

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A friend said recently that people who want to live out the Power of one have to commit to a more rigorous standard of ethics than just what the law requires. Do you agree or disagree?

I once found a beautiful table at an estate sale. The style was right, the price was right, and the size was right. The only problem? One of the end table’s three legs was wobbly, meaning the table leaned to far to one side—and a drink would have slid right off the table and crashed. And that’s what would happen to me and to you if we didn’t use the three legs of sustainable ethics to support our efforts to live right, moral lives. These are the legs that embrace the legal standards but also take us higher to the spirit of morality and ethics. To keep your “table” of ethics upright, you need:

The Golden Triad

Leg 1: The Good
Every decision is either a choice of the bad versus the worst, the good versus the bad, or the good versus the best. Tapping into the internal monitor of goodness will help any decision go easier. “Today we are afraid of simple words like goodness and mercy and kindness. We don’t believe in the good old words because we don’t believe in the good old values anymore.” –Lin Yutang Although it might be a little unwieldy, usually we can detect the spirit of goodness in the midst of dilemmas. Even if it is legal, ask yourself the question, “Is it good?” Let your heart follow that direction

Leg 2: The Right
We’ve already established that doing what is right isn’t easy. And it’s not always the most appealing option. But doing what is right, even in the face of embarrassment, lost deals, financial setbacks, and lack of professional advancement, will keep you out of legal and moral hot water. Are you saying let your conscience be your guide, you might ask. Sure, for about 98 percent of the time. People argue that we must not just follow our conscience. However, I would argue that for most of the things in life a healthy conscience has a radar for right and wrong. An internal alarm goes off when we choose wrong over right.

Leg 3: The True
Is it true? Fully true? Always true? Again, the agenda is to create a standard of living that exceeds the legal system. It doesn’t go against the legal standard but rather simply applies a more exacting measurement to the dilemma.

God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please—you can never have both.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

He who floats with the current, who does not guide himself according to higher principles, who has no ideal, no convictions—such a man is a mere article of the world’s furniture—a thing moved, instead of a living and moving being—an echo, not a voice.”—Henri Frederic Amiel

If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

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