When I was young, I was always causing all sorts of mischief around the house. Whether it was stirring up trouble with my older brother or teasing my little sister, I always seemed to be get punished for my actions. Having said that, it probably comes as no surprise that my story begins with me being grounded on a warm, summer day.
I cannot recall exactly what I did to get myself in trouble that morning, but I remember that, as a result, my family was headed to the beach for the day and I was to stay home and remain in my room. I was maybe ten years old at the time and had a very short attention span paired with a defiant attitude. Naturally, once everyone had left for the beach I decided to go for a little bike ride around the neighborhood.
Growing up, we lived in a very close-knit community where pretty much everyone knew each other. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be on my bike that day, so I wanted to make sure I picked a route where I could pass by undetected. I decided to head down to the end of our street because it was dead end and there was not too many houses close to the street.
When I got to the end of the street, something looked off. One of the houses had its front door wide open and I could see a women’s purse in the front yard. No one else was around, so I decided to investigate the situation. As I approached the house, I saw my elderly neighbor had fallen down the front steps of her house. She did not look well and I could tell she was not trying to get up. When she saw me approaching she asked me to go get help.
Almost immediately, I realized I had a moral dilemma on my hands. On one hand, I knew I could not leave her there because it could take a long time for someone else to find her. One the other hand, I knew that going for help would mean I could get punished further for leaving my room. I remember a great sense of panic because I knew what the right thing to do was, but I also knew it might worsen my personal situation. Nevertheless, I hopped on my bike and raced home to call 911.
I did not know my neighbor’s address so when the emergency vehicles arrived I had to leave my house once again to assist them. When I returned home, my mother was in the front yard waiting for me. At first she was very upset that I had disobeyed her, but ultimately she was just glad that I did the right thing.
My neighbor had suffered a minor stroke, but made a full recovery. The reason I still remember this day so vividly is because it was the first time I realized that doing the right thing is not always an easy decision to make. Sometimes making the right choice comes at personal loss. Regardless, it does not justify ignoring a person in need.
Nowadays when I am forced to deal with a moral dilemma, I like to think back to that warm summer day when I was just a child. I have always been proud of myself for doing the right thing that day. As I grew older, the issues I faced become much more sophisticated, but the message remains the same. When facing a tough decision, you should always do the right thing; no matter what.