News and Tribune

January 12, 2014

CUMMINS: Doing the right thing

Local columnist

— After considerable soul searching, I made only one resolution this year and it covers everything. My life will change suddenly and dramatically. Get this, I resolve to do “the right thing.” There is wrong, known in political circles as liberalism, and there is right such as the tea party. But I’m writing here in moral circles, not political circles, because then I’d have to be dishonest with you.

Admittedly, doing the wrong things has been cruel to me. I meant no harm, but have had great difficulty in stopping to think. Although stopping is easier than thinking, in today’s modern societies, caution lights and stop signs are impediments to our fast-lane living.

Resolutions have short lives. I’ve resolved to love more, but forgot about it until Valentine’s Day. I’ve resolved to lose weight, but can’t resist Twinkies. I now resolve to do the right things that bring good things, which I will do, maybe after the weather breaks.

Some people keep their resolutions on a smartphone. I keep important things in my head. It shouldn’t be that difficult to keep one resolution deep in my consciousness. It’s simply surrounding myself with imaginary heavenly angels to fight off the preponderance of little devils poking hot forks into me. Life is so simple, if we’d do the right thing.

 If doing the right thing is good, then is it good for you, too? I like me therefore I must do what’s best for me. What if what’s best for me is not good for you? Let’s skip this part about what’s best and discuss another approach to life — take it as it comes.

If you take it as it comes, it will, until it doesn’t. I’ve known people who were laid back, come what may without any future plan. It’s been said the best laid plans of mice and men are usually more beneficial to the mice. That may be true, but man should not live his life haphazardly, or release his soul to the Internet. He should have a purpose. Define yours in 10 words, or less.

The sages and wise men have pondered and written about the purpose of life since back before Plato and certainly before George W. Bush’s attempt at pondering. His purpose was to be a decider and replace weapons with democracy. Barack Obama’s purpose it to cure what ails you. The purpose of our central government is either to distribute wealth or concentrate it in the 1 percent who might permit some of it to trickle down, but not too much.

Let’s go back to our individual lives and keep government out of our consciousness. Once they get in your mind, they’re in your business, bedroom and sick room. And they’re deceptive and devious. If Republicans legalize marijuana, is it a ploy to improve your health, thus eliminating the need for Obamacare? Is taking away unemployment benefits a means of starving those who won’t work? Do you remember the last time government did the right thing? Do not, however, let them disrupt your purpose for living.

In this world of love and hate, there’s right and wrong resulting in good or evil. And it’s a constant battle, almost like a Super Bowl game with both teams playing to a tie until both drop dead. Not quite that bad, but sometimes you wonder. It’s sickening to keep a daily score of the deaths from bombs, from hunger and disease that are preventable. Flugel, a sage, said: “The central essence of all religions is to love your neighbor and that this is requested by Zoroaster, Buddha, Moses, Socrates, Jesus, Saint Paul and Mohammed alike.” If all religions subscribe to loving thy neighbor, who let the evil in?

And yet, good creeps in, quietly, unassumingly. Good people from all over the world emerge from humble surroundings to perform good deeds in times of need. A Chinese proverb says that kind people help each other without noticing they are doing so, and evil people act against each other on purpose. How many of the seven billion people on earth choose to be kind on purpose? Most all of them, I’d say.   

To do the right and good thing, what do you do and where do you start? Since the government won’t pass a kindness, goodness or a right-thing law, I plan to do good on purpose starting today. Wait, my calendar is full; make it tomorrow.

— Contact Terry Cummins at