It just happened a few weeks ago. My daughter and I were off on a “Daddy Date” and we had to pass through a construction zone. To help us navigate through the cones and constructions signs was the all-too-familiar sign: an arrow veering to the right around an odd-shaped cone thing and the words: “Keep right.” So we followed the cones and sign to the right. We made it safely through the work zone.
I wonder whether we really need those signs. I mean it seems pretty obvious to me to follow the cones and signs. Fluorescent orange obstacles surround the path I am supposed to follow. It kind of seems like it would be difficult (and maybe even take some extra work) to get around to the left where I am not supposed to be. Yet the other part of me knows the reason we have these kinds of signs. Sometime in the past, someone was not looking ahead and found himself on the left side of the road. In a construction zone, the mistake of going to the left could be harmful or fatal to many people. It could thrust them directly into fast-moving traffic heading the other way. Keeping to the right is an obvious wise choice. I am guessing that more than once, cars have been driven to the left into a potential disaster. Keeping right is a good move. I love the sign.
We live in a world where every day the news media is trumpeting the story of another person who told a lie, cheated on a test, or stole something from another. We read of people cheating on exams. We hear of others who cheated in sporting events, athletic competitions, or other special events. Even more harmful, we come face-to-face with people cheating other people. People in trusted positions, be they spouses, leaders, or role models, are often found to be guilty of cheating or lying. It is sad to hear so many daily accounts of such conduct. It is sad we are so intrigued by it. I think it is because, inside, we all can see a small sign from our conscience that says we should “Keep right.”
Did you ever stop to think about these people who cheat? I am willing to bet that not one of them started out in his or her career, competition, or marriage with the intent to lie, cheat, or steal.
No one does this! Each athlete was at one point working hard to build muscle, speed, or endurance. Another person studied for hours, joined a study group, or hired a tutor. Still, someone else pledged love and loyalty forever. So how then did they move from a place of effort and integrity to a place of dishonor and humiliation?
Most likely, the cause is related to a series of decisions not to keep right. One small decision. “No one will know” and “Just once” come to mind and mouth. Suddenly, one small decision leads to another. A path begins to form and we are on a path and road to disaster we never intended.
The way to prevent this is clear.
We make the decision to keep right. We determine early on to heed the signs of conscience that tell us we are about to veer off. We might even imagine a sign in our mind in those moments that reads “Keep right” and decide to do exactly that.
If by chance, we find we are already off course, we can quickly get right and stay there. The best course is always to keep right.