Right and Wrong

“Right and wrong – do you know the difference?” ~ Joe Jackson

Or, as defined by my dictionary

A sense of right and wrong (n): motivation deriving logically from ethical or moral principles that govern a person’s thoughts and actions


In my life, I’ve done things that are wrong. I’m not talking illegal, though I doubt I have made it this far in life without breaking a law or two at some point. I’m more talking about the little things; like I’m sure I once took a Mars Bar from the work tuck shop without paying for it (writes IOU) and every time I travel to work on the tube I walk down some stairs marked “No Entry” (please don’t tell British Transport Police). Now, whilst hardly crimes of the century, there things are still wrong. There’s a whole heap of other things I could list too but is a blog post not confession.

There are things in life that are judged as ‘wrong’, sometimes legally, sometimes morally, often but not always both. Tax avoidance is one that springs to mind as an easy example; perfectly legal but to some it is morally wrong whereas to others it appears to be morally obligatory to avoid paying tax wherever possible. A friend of mine commented that he pays tax to contribute to society. I like this idea. I too think that is what the idea of society and paying taxes is about. But, clearly, not all agree.

There are other things that fall into the morally dubious but not really a crime scenario. One that is close to my heart and affects my life more often than i am ever going to be comfortable with is the behaviour of men who think it is ok to beep at women as they drive past them, shout sexually abusive comments, or approach them in the street to make ‘offers’. I’m sure repeated instances one on one constitute a crime; as a one off I’m not so sure. To me it is wrong. To others, seemingly not so much.

Equally, there are things that are generally agreed on as ‘wrong’ by all. I was born into a Christian family, which meant I was familiar with the Ten Commandments from an early age. I don’t intend to to get into a debate about religion, that’s not what this is about. But I think we can all agree that tenets of don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t kill are pretty good moral codes to live your life by. And chances are, without perhaps ever having had a religious thought, many people do live life by these tenets.

But what if no-one ever told you what was right or what was wrong? How do you know it’s not ok to take a toy from another child at school if no-one ever said that stealing is wrong? If violence is the norm in the house you grow up in, how do you ever exist in a society where hitting someone to resolve a dispute results in being in court on a assault charge? Ignorance of the law is said to be no excuse but how to plug the gaps in someone’s knowledge of morality is a much harder task indeed.

I really don’t know what the answer is. Thoughts and suggestions on a comment box-shaped postcard, please.




7 thoughts on “Right and Wrong

  1. Vicious circle I think. For the majority who are bought up to know what is right and what is wrong, to understand that to do un to others and all that is the only way to behave in a society such as ours and believe that it’s inconceivable to behave any other way.

    It starts at home and from a very young age but maybe the best we can do is to do our own personal best, behave in a way that we feel is right, demonstrate these values in what we do and say….and hope others follow our example.

    I wish!!!

    Nice blog Princess.

  2. “But what if no-one ever told you what was right or what was wrong?”

    Now that is a conundrum!

    Surely education teaches right from wrong ?

    But if your primary socialisation does not teach right from wrong or even teaches wrong from right! Is any education strong enough to overcome that?

    Even learning that some things are wrong through punishments such as prison may not be enough to prevent the wrong from being repeated if the right conditions prevail.

    • I hope people who know better about teaching than I reply to that. I understand your point but if your schooling is at odds to your day to day life? What then?
      I really do think it is a minefield at times.

      • I think it will be very difficult to overcome your day to day life whatever education may say.

        As an example people who are physically/sexually abused often go on to repeat the same behaviour.

        I would expect the trauma they suffer/counselling they receive (if they do) would instil in them that this is wrong but it would appear that in some cases it does not.

        Thanks for the post Veep it has really made me think.

  3. I think the abused-becoming-abusers is somewhat separate to moral education issues. You don’t have to look very far to notice that people in general when treated badly have a greater tendency to treat others badly. Take any group or community of people who have had a hard time and you will usually see, if you’ll pardon the phrase, a greater degree of asshollery from that group/community. Hurt people lash out – other people point and say ‘see, that’s why we treat them badly, they’re arseholes, look!” and round and round it goes.

    As for moral education – it needs to be a high value in society to work, I think. At the moment, money, fame, physical appearance and personal pleasure seem to be valued in front of everything else. We need a priority reset somehow and I suspect it’s going to take some very nasty times before we turn away from the fake tits and coke.

    Lord, I do go on when unshackled from character limits.

    • Asshollery, coke and tits. Love it. great reply and probably hit the nail on the head . I am sure there is a social responsibility issue to this but whether it will ever be resolved is debatable as probably some of these arseholes are just plain bad so try hard as we like they won’t change. And as you say round it goes ad infinitum.or should that be ad nauseum? Good debate from you šŸ™‚

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