Movin' On with Nellie: In all actions, do the right thing


Mama didn’t go eyeball to eyeball with me very often; I remember how her look opened the spillway to tell the truth about eating that extra chocolate chip cookie, or rough housing too much with my sister. “I’m sorry,” I would plead; but I still had to sit out the time in my half-pint rocker.

In Catechism class at St. John’s Church, I learned further ethics and developed the internal impulse to do the right thing. “Treat others as you would have them treat you.” Also known as, the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Likely though, any Lutheran will tell you the pivotal Bible passage for them is: “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and not of yourselves, in case anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. The notion of working toward goodness is expressed in James 2:14-26: “Faith without works is dead,” and in Matthew 7:16 when Jesus says, “By their fruit you will know them.” 

From those, I gleaned that being a Christian meant always doing the right thing, always. The outcome of faith is doing good, being kind, and being sure to do right by others.

This golden rule notion is in most other religions as well. In Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. In Taoism: Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain; and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss. In Buddhism: Treat not others in ways you yourself would find hurtful. In Hinduism: This is the sum of duty: Do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you. In Jainism: One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated. And in Zoroastrianism (probably oldest documented religion): Do not do to others whatever is injurious to yourself.

It is sometimes hard in our world to find that ethical standard. We see the unethical pronounced on Twitter and Facebook when users resort to bullying and wrongfully penning slander about others. Before social media, your parents saw it at high school when there would be rumors that destroyed reputations. And with the #metoo movement we see how decades of mistreatment and threats have finally come around to ethical behavior. Case in point, last week Bill Cosby received conviction for his abuse and unethical treatment of women when he violated them.

Ethical standards are in the car industry as noted on the Boulder home of Independent Motors. “To be clear, these ethical parameters are to some extent simply an expansion of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”; and these bodies do not hold the trademark on polite, conscientious, professional, friendly, and forthright behavior.” Likewise, the Colorado Motor Vehicle Act also addresses unethical behavior and considers penalties for a sundry of issues including: misrepresenting the necessity of repairs; misrepresenting that a vehicle is in a dangerous condition; and misrepresenting that repairs were made, and they were not.

A local auto repair shop says on its web site: “Quick fixes are guaranteed to let you down, allow a professional team to install and repair any component to your car, truck, or van. Our skilled technicians can solve the problems to any make or model of automotive, at an honest and affordable price.” Their promise has the ring of the golden rule in it too. 

Unethical treatment even in auto repair can be contested through the Attorney General Office, the Consumer Protection Agency, Small Claims Courts or higher courts and complaints to the Better Business Bureau can also promote fair and ethical standards.

Although eyeball to eyeball is not recommended, a friendly face to face (or written document) exploring the options can bring about a welcomed solution for all willing to do the right thing.

--Nelda Curtiss is a retired college professor who enjoys writing and fine arts. Contact her at [email protected]

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