Two wrongs don’t make a right but beware when ten wrongs start to change the view of what is right.
While growing up I remember hearing my parents say that two wrongs did not make a right and I remember too the impact this statement had on my conscience. It became difficult to justify doing wrong because someone else had done wrong. It is not to say that I became an angel but there was a certain way this saying had a way of bringing me back to a more acceptable and effective approach.
Then there were the eye for an eye discussions in youth groups, scouts and junior church programmes. Once again those present may not have always got the turn the other cheek thing right when processing conflict, but when it was said we knew what was meant by it and it helped in the process of moving on and beyond.
What happens when these conversations stop taking place?
When there are so many wrongs and so many people committing wrongs that we all just give up. As an example when your closest friend who, as a mother in the role of primary role model, gives no thought whatsoever to speeding, texting while driving, smoking in the car with her children present and swearing at every law abiding driver for getting in her way. You just know, speaking to her about it is not going to change anything and all you will hear is that all her friends with children do the same and you just don’t understand because you don’t have any of your own.
So my parents said that two wrongs do not make a right. Were they right?
If they had not intervened and had not instilled this thought where would things have ended up I wonder?
One wrong and another.
Then the previous another and another. Then the previous another and another and so on ………. until having identified with so many wrongs without intervention and being called out on them, the idea of what was right at a time becomes a distant memory or even completely forgotten. What replaces what was right? One of the versions of another.
Violence, crime, politics, intolerance, bribes, lowering of standards when left unchecked have a way of justifying the next wrong or illegal act and one by one gradually that change what is accepted as right.
We live in a time where we run the risk of slowly but surely becoming sensitized to levels of wrongdoing that we would never previously have accepted. We all know about wrongs and that wrongs have been committed since the beginning of time. When previous wrongs justify further wrongs there can never be an end to the cycle but all the while the definition of wrong change and it will not be for the good.
I believe the ANC is best positioned to turn the tide but they too seem to be caught up in the idea of two wrongs. If they don’t get doing the right things right internally and if they don’t bring about levels of political will to begin the process of addressing corruption, crime, gender violence, gang violence, drug and alcohol abuse, racism, tribalism, zenofobia, road safety and then effective and efficient service delivery we are going to lose sight of how good South African can be.
Wrong after wrong takes us further and further away from best practice.
We lower our ideals and our standards.
My challenge to each person who cares, each team that cares, each company that cares about excellence and that is no longer accepting of what is fast becoming mediocre, stop, regroup, raise the bar way back up there and reunite behind the dream of what a wonderful people we can be.
As they say at Lead SA – “Know your rights but be aware of your responsibilities.”
By Louis Gerke
Development Facilitator – The Ripple Effect
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