If character is what you have when no one is looking, we need to seriously examine our character.
We’ve already debated for weeks now the case of nearly $200,000 looted from an Evans neighborhood association, and the criminal case of a Martinez attorney who found a valuable ring and turned it in only after it became obvious the cops were looking for it.
And now we’re embroiled in the potentially season-destroying meltdown of the Greenbrier High School soccer team, with 18 players kicked off for using alcohol and drugs on a team trip.
In all of those cases, people did things, or are accused of doing things, that they knew were wrong – but didn’t think anyone who mattered was looking.
The “Pearls Before Swine” comic in Friday’s Augusta Chronicle captured the mood when the character Rat says, “I’ve concluded that the key to living an ethical life is to always pause before I do anything and ask myself that key moral question: Can I get away with it?”
Shockingly, it seems many in the community are OK with that. Some of those commenting on these stories – often, cloaked in anonymity, so they can pretend no one is looking – either defend or downplay the behavior of the accused, or even lash out at those who discovered the wrongdoing.
Can we really be surprised, then, when a bunch of kids on a school trip not only would think they could get away with drinking alcohol and smoking synthetic marijuana, but then be brazen enough to tweet about it?
We have to be better than that. For example, some people are demanding that the adults on that Greenbrier trip be held accountable – and they should. But the focus for accountability, for character, for moral behavior must be on the person with the ability to exercise it – not on those who would have caught the misbehavior if they had been looking.
We all have to keep our eyes open to such misbehavior, and not be afraid to report it out of fear of being labeled a “snitch” or “judgmental.” And our community needs to take every opportunity to remind our children: Behave. Not just because someone is always looking, but because it’s the right thing to do.