Posted By Matthew

Doing the Right Thing For the Right Reason

The right thing to do, when done for the wrong reasons or motivations, is no longer the right thing. This is something I believe, but is also very contestable.

I ask myself – “what if a bystander saves a victim of violence in the hopes of getting a reward? Isn’t that doing the right thing for the wrong reason, and isn’t it still the right thing to do?”

Even though the act of saving the victim was still right, the spirit of the act was wrong and therefore doesn’t reflect budo as I understand it. It is therefore a hollow act.

But hey, who gets to decide that going after a reward is wrong in the first place? What if you have a family to feed, and a reward might meet those ends?

These gray areas keep my mind whirling and remind me I still have much learning to do!

Forrest Morgan shares an interesting tale, which I’ll summarize here:

“In Budo Shoshinshu, Yuzan defines three degrees of doing right. He illustrates his point with a parable about a man who dies during a journey. Before leaving, the dead man had trusted one hundred ryo of gold with his neighbor for safe keeping.

No one else knew of this transaction, so the neighbor is left with the dilemma of whether or not to act honorably.

Of course, taking the money is the dishonorable option, but Yuzan proposes there are varying levels of honor, depending on why the friend returns it.

* The first and most honorable course of action is to return the gold to the dead man’s family without ever considering theft.

* A second alternative would be to covet the money briefly, but then be overtaken with shame and return it.

* The third possibility is to consider keeping the money but decide against it for fear of being discovered by family, friends, or servants.

All three situations result in the same outcome: a fulfillment of giri and remaining honorable. However, each case reflects a different degree of moral conscience, and therefore, a different level of honor the individual has attained.” – Living the Martial Way

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