Commentary

August 17, 2012

Doing right not always easy

by Lt. Col. STEPHANE WOLFGEHER
309th Fighter Squadron

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” – C. S. Lewis

“To see what is right and do it not is cowardice.” – Confucius

Who hasn’t heard the saying, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching?” Integrity is one of our Air Force core values; it is a foundational element on which the others are built. We hear of individuals, Airmen, who do the right thing, without thought of praise or reward and without thinking they could get away with something because no one was watching.

As I was thinking about it, I recalled many examples of the opposite, where everyone was watching but the person didn’t do the right thing.

But, there is more to it than just that. Integrity is also doing the right thing, even when everyone is watching.

When others are watching, we may be less likely to do the right thing if it’s not the popular thing to do or when there is social pressure to belong to a group. If it is an obvious right vs. wrong situation, it’s generally an easy decision (a group is standing around and someone unknowingly drops his wallet. The group, and individuals, will generally do the right thing.) But, if the situation is more nebulous, or if it deals more with a group’s social norms, individuals often have a moment of “What will someone else think of me if I do (or say or correct) this?” In these situations, sometimes we do not do what we know to be right.

Have you ever been in a group of people where inappropriate comments were made about a coworker? Or, where one of your friends (or someone you don’t particularly like) was being mocked behind his back? On the surface you may not see the right vs. wrong dilemma (although I would say it’s pretty obvious considering our culture of respect), but I’m sure you’ve had that twinge of unease. It’s your sense that something is not right. Did you say something to stop it? Or were you too worried about your standing within the group to say something. Were you afraid to say something? Have you been that person who then disparaged an individual who tried to put a stop to inappropriate comments?

What about uniform wear? Or customs and courtesies? Have you ever seen someone doing the wrong thing, but failed to correct them? You knew it was wrong, but you either felt uncomfortable correcting that individual or you were with a group of people and didn’t want to stand out or be ridiculed for correcting someone. Have you ever been that person who was corrected and then mocked the person who corrected you? If you were, what makes you think you will be able to correct someone else in the future when it has crossed your threshold of right vs. wrong?

The responsibility to do right is not vested only in your senior enlisted, supervisor or flight commander; it is each individual’s duty to know what is right and to do it.

It takes courage and integrity to stand up for what you know to be right, especially when many people around accepts wrong as right. Peer pressure is all around us and sometimes results in the wrong things being done when no one speaks up. As Confucius said – it is a form of cowardice to not do what you know to be right. To turn a blind eye to a situation is a form of failed integrity.

Most of you reading this article volunteered to serve as did I. We agreed to abide by our core values. These values are just as useful to those not in uniform. Do what you know is right – even when people are watching. Your actions will make those around you better. You will be a better Airman and person for it.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Courtesy graphic

Fitness center gets Xtreme makeover

Courtesy graphic Above is an architectural rendering of the changes to the outside of the Luke Air Force Base Bryant Fitness Center. Renovations also include a remodel of most of the interior. The project will take place over t...
 
 

People — Air Force’s greatest asset

As I reflect on almost 25 years of military service, I find it easy to remember my assignments, the multiple jobs I’ve had and duties I have performed. I have served on four continents and for four presidents. Within that same time period, our nation has been in numerous campaigns ranging from operations Desert Storm...
 
 

Character, good or bad, will be passed on

Your character is who you are when no one is watching. At the same time, your character is who you are when everyone is watching. Your character is the sum of your morals and values and the quality of your character is of the utmost importance when leading others. In addition to your own values...
 

 
Senior Airman 
JAMES HENSLEY

History gets paint job

Senior AirmanJAMES HENSLEY James Bridges and Hayden Yager, civilian contractors, prepare the F-104C Starfighter static display for painting Aug. 12 in the Luke Air Force Base Airpark. The static displays in the airpark will be ...
 
 

News Briefs August 29, 2015

Base-wide exercise The 56th Fighter Wing will begin an active-shooter exercise between 8 and 10 a.m. Thursday. It is expected to continue throughout the day. The exercise will include military and local, county and state law enforcement, and fire departments. On and off-base residents should expect traffic disruptions, gate closures or delays, and interruption of...
 
 
Tech. Sgt. 
BARBARA PLANTE

944th Airmen live life as military couple

Tech. Sgt.BARBARA PLANTE Staff Sgt. Adam Jenkins and Senior Airman Cassandra Jenkins, 944th Logistics Readiness Squadron, are a dual-military couple and work together as maintainers in the refueling vehicle maintenance shop. St...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>