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Do the right thing and be slated?

We can’t prove we are decent, honourable and innocent people. Every day of our lives is a new test. All of us can be mis-read, misunderstood and mistaken. And sometimes are.

‘No good deed goes unpunished’ appears to be a well-worn saying.  Our political leaders falter and in doing so, set the tone. Even religion encourages forgiveness for sin. And it expects sin, not sainthood.

Athletes in a sport racked by doping become guilty by association, in a dramatic trial by media. People can be unwittingly in the wrong place at the wrong time. Too-perfect beauty or sound must be from plastic surgery, photoshopped or auto-tuned, we tell ourselves. Employees working from home apparently can’t be trusted by some employers to be productive. Good people can be framed, or their identities stolen. DNA evidence can be planted. Company reputations appear only as good as their last action, not their decades of service, contribution and value generated.

Do we punish uncertainty, even when the right thing happens?

Financial auditors, medical test technicians, oil drillers, weather forecasters, medical imaging experts and structural surveyors can sample and pass opinion but not guarantee certainty. We settle for their professional opinion, only as the lessor of two evils. Insurance assessors can estimate probability, but not guarantee outcome. We pay the premium but resent the price.  Juries can look for court evidence that is beyond reasonable doubt, but hate the process, rarely finding a perfect set of evidence, or witnesses (I know, I’ve been that juror). Human relationships survive on moral premise,transactional trade, love, blind faith and simmering trust in the meantime.

Added to the potent mix above, education is effective in training us to be critics and sceptics. But does it do enough to inspire all of us to be the best we can be? Shaping us to be critics and sceptics does make progress a bumpy ride for all those lining the journey.

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