It’s simple to do the right thing

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A friend and I were having a conversation the other day about how we treat one another in the fire service. We’d both been to a training that was physically demanding and over heard one of the students speak poorly of another. They were physically different; he much larger than her and likely stronger. He said that if he had to take her into a fire he’d put her through the paces. He’d make her work harder so that she may prove herself to him. Now, she was doing the drill well. Probably better than most. He was talking down about her because of her size, and because she was doing the drill and therefore not around. He felt safe to discourage her when she wasn’t there to defend herself. Because my buddy overheard the conversation he was placed in a morally questionable situation. Does he stand up to someone that he simply overheard, and did not know, or should he let the shit-talking go and assume that they have their own arguments in check? Honestly, there’s probably not a right answer here. If we take the time to step in to every situation we perceive to be wrong, we’d be spending our entire lives always telling people how they aren’t living up to our moral expectations. If we don’t step in when we feel we should our morals could be considered compromised.  

I struggle with this balance all the time. I know that everyone has different morals and ways that they live their lives. I can’t demand that people hold themselves to the same standards I hold myself too. Flip side, they can’t expect me to be held to theirs. It’s hard to meet in the middle when it comes to our morality. Often, we don’t even realize that we’re arguing from our moral point of view. This is how we become passionate in our discussion. It’s difficult to have a passionate discussion with someone who views the world a different way. It’s not uncommon to see people double down on their point even with overwhelming evidence against them. I’m guilty of this too. What we should be doing is trying to argue from the other person’s point of view. Still argue your point — if you’re arguing it’s important enough to you. But try to think ahead about how the other person will receive your point. This isn’t easy. It requires us to put yourselves in the other person’s shoes, so to speak, and to understand the points that they are making. And just like that you now have yourself a tactics discussion — “If this, then that”.

All this to say, don’t get discouraged if you feel that your morals or your positions are being challenged. It’s good to challenge yourself, that’s how you can grow. If we take time to listen to others and to try and understand where they’ve been and where they’re going, we can have more meaningful conversations instead of tribal debates on Facebook. We are all passionate about what we do. There’s no reason to try and tear each other down. Instead let’s work with each other. It’s simple to do the right thing, but not always easy.