A cause is only as powerful as the actions of each individual. While it's one thing to identify with a cause - talk about it, write about it, even march for it - it's another thing entirely to choose doing the right thing over acting in your own self-interest. Faced with that dilemma, I'm afraid that few would make the right call these days.
Sony's executives gave in to cyber bullies and pulled the release of the controversial comedy "The Interview" rather than stand up for free expression. Sure, the hackers made threats, but the Department of Homeland Security said they weren't credible. The real reason Sony caved to the scare tactics instead of doing the right thing and releasing the film as planned was risk aversion. Again, self interest.
Every day we have dozens if not hundreds of frivolous and egregious lawsuits in America. And while folks love to point fingers at the legal profession, the laws, even the greedy plaintiffs, none of them will pass up a chance to stick their own hands in someone else's deep pockets. The real reason we need tort reform is because so many of us act selfishly instead of doing the right thing.
Now that I think about it, if our political leaders, our corporations, and the media are all willing to talk a good game but, when push comes to shove, inevitably choose their own self-interest instead of doing the right thing, why should any of us be surprised that most citizens will make the same choice?
It's said that, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Of course that's true, but what you do in the face of evil determines whether you're a good man or not. You can talk the talk and even walk the walk but it takes far more courage and strength to do the right thing in spite of personal risk.
Ben Franklin famously said, "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." I couldn't agree more but I would add that those who would give up their morals for personal gain deserve neither moral treatment nor personal gain.
The next time you're blogging, posting, or Tweeting about some cause that's captured your interest, ask yourself what you would truly sacrifice in the name of that cause. Be honest. If the answer is little more than words - if you would not sacrifice your own self-interest to do what's right - you're not really helping, just feeding your ego.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.
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