It’s up to us to do the right thing

October 11, 2018

I have wanted a magic wand for years but recently my purpose has changed. What if we were able to know the motives of all with a wave of a magic wand! The political dialogue might become much more revealing and honest and we might be able to vote with some clarity. However, I recently had an NKA class that reminded me of Dr. Kohlberg’s stages of moral development that gives me a more realistic possibility.

My original memory of these stages was very basic. These are the definitions I shared so many years ago.

1. Avoid the punisher...what is right is what I do not get punished for doing.

2. Satisfaction of basic needs is what is right. You scratch my back and I will scratch yours.

3. Good boy, good girl...Purpose is to please others. Be nice. Please significant others.

4. Orientation to law and order. What is right is what the rule says.

5. Agreement to a social contract....There may be rules but they can be changed if unjust. The United States Constitution is on this level.

6. Self-Chosen Principles.....always justice for all people.

My recent instructor, Dr. Joe, pointed out that people pass through these stages in a regular growth pattern but adults vary as to which stage they primarily remain. VERY FEW ever reach and live in Stage 6 which is “Right is determined by self-chosen ethical principles that underscore profound respect for ideals such as the sanctity of all human life, nonviolence, equality, and human dignity.”

Researchers suggest possible humans that have lived their final years here are Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King Jr. Obviously, it is noble group beyond the reach of most of us humans.

Dr. Joe was encouraging in that the possibility is now greater for people to live a Stage 5 zone: “Right is helping protect the basic rights of all members of society by upholding principles that promote the values of fairness, justice, equality and democracy.”

If it is possible to live in this zone, maybe these are the attributes, virtues; we should be looking for as we vote for candidates and important issues this November? Sunday morning, I was challenged by an honored author, Jon Meacham, “It’s up to us to do the right thing.”

Virginia Kelly,


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