What is right? What is wrong?
Nowadays, it’s a tricky question — especially with the prevalent moral/ethical relativity mindset. For one, it’s an act of survival. For the other, it’s simply called stealing. One can claim violence as an act of defense. Others simply brand it as murder. Throwing away food can either be a waste or self-discipline — depending on your diet, economic status, or who’s eating with you.
But there are absolutes in what is right and wrong.
And it takes a strong, unwavering attitude to uphold such an unflinching truth.
Rectitude is the quality of being honest and morally correct. In Christian parlance, it simply means righteousness. This attitude deals with our moral integrity — it tests our standards in judgment and procedures. Rectitude allows us to confront and withstand a lot of obvious temptations— like lust, pride, and avarice. Issues of fidelity and faithfulness become clear as black and white. Selfishness and greed is made plain and simple. Right is right, wrong is wrong. A strong sense of rectitude enables us to quickly navigate through the misty backwaters of moral confusion — and creates a much-needed beacon of principled morality in this post-modern age.
But how about those things that are not governed by moral principles? How about those simple stuff – like, is it okay to hold someone’s hand in public? Is it okay to put my arm around a girl for no reason? Should I bother or care about what people would think about my behavior around others — especially women? Should I leave my footwear outside somebody’s home? Would it be polite to decline an offered meal during dinner, or would it be more courteous to simply eat the food even if you don’t like it?
Should I keep a secret from my friends and/or family?
Should I post all my thoughts and angst and rants on social media?
Is it okay to flirt with someone?
Correctitude is similarly concerned with correctness — specifically, a conscious correctness in one’s behavior. This includes both proper manners and ethical conduct. As the Bible is often (mis)quoted for:You say, “I am allowed to do anything” —but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. [1 Corinthians 10:23 NLT]
How can we tell if one thing is correct or proper? How can we know if one behavior pleases or offends someone? Sure, we can’t please everybody — and we shouldn’t try to please everybody. But even so, we should strive to behave with propriety. In my opinion, the best practical way (definitely not the easiest) is this statement:
Here are some simple examples.
- I get it that some girls feel more comfortable wearing shorts or skirts. But make sure first that where you’re going is appropriate for it. Especially when going to some unfamiliar place or home — some families have elders that we need to be considerate of. Or neighborhoods that have a lot of hungry eyes. First impression lasts, and we don’t want that impression to be of lust. So if you don’t know what to wear, always play it safe: be modest. Besides, modesty can be more beautiful on women than any costly jewelry and/or makeup.
- Some guys are naturally loud. Myself included. But some places are not so loud-friendly. Being able to dial down one’s own volume depending on the location is a good sign of correctitude. Also, a good sense of humor is always welcome — but jokes and pranks should be practiced with caution, especially with new acquaintances and strange territories. The world is not your stage alone, so don’t clown around without a care. Even standup comedians knows when to holdback a punchline and sit down.
- Helping people in need is always good. But how do we really know if the person is in need? Giving alms nowadays seem to require a certain degree of telepathy, clairvoyance or discernment. Is it right to just help for the sake of helping? What if it’s just a scam? Would I not be supporting and encouraging the racket by helping? Such situations are quite numbing— so you have to make your own decision, and confidently stand by it when it’s done. No regrets. No afterthoughts.
- Loaning and lending money is a very difficult test for a lot of relationships. It’s not easy to lend money; and for some, it’s not that simple to ask for loans, either. But when you really need the cash, don’t be proud — just admit the fact, and make a clear commitment when to pay back. And fulfill it. Then avoid situations that make you need a loan in the first place (unless of course, it’s due to medical and other valid emergencies). As for the lender — it’s nice to be generous, but don’t stretch yourself too thin, either. If you don’t have extra cash to lend, don’t! And if you don’t trust the person… well, you don’t need to make excuses either.
However, there are some very obvious pointers for correctitude that applies to most, if not all, situations.
- Whether you’re a boy or a girl, wearing something that reveals your underwear is socially improper. In a related sense, it is then your responsibility to be always conscious of what you are revealing in public. I appreciate those ladies who have the decency to hold their collars to their chest whenever they pick something, are bowing, or simply know that their loose collars are generously giving someone a clear view of their bra, cleavage or whatever is worth seeing there. Likewise with those who hold the back of their shirt or pants to avoid showing their branded underwear or butt cleavages. AND yes: guys, your butt cleavages are not a happy memory.
- I respect the right of smokers to enjoy their vice, but I do hope they will also respect my right to clean air. I especially detest those who smoke without a care near public eateries (like jollijeeps, where the standing open-air setting makes it even more vulnerable for us poor, hapless diners to enjoy a decent, healthy meal). So please, you’re already robbing us of clean air: don’t rob us even of a little breathing space.
- I get it that most couples can’t control how much passion they have for one another — and in some aspects, that’s good. But save that for your private moments, please. Intimacy has its own place, and it’s called the bedroom. Or your own private home. It’s not only discomforting for the rest of us single people out here; you’re also setting a disturbing precedent for younger people to imitate… in public, as well.
- Likewise, people who are NOT in a relationship should not behave like people who ARE in a relationship — not just for social decency, but for their own sakes as well. Don’t give the devil an excuse to tempt you more than you are already doing to yourselves. Intimacy is a deceptively slippery hill. And even if you may be able to avoid getting into sin or do some physical stuff you’ll regret later (definitely a long, long later on — because you’d be too busy enjoying the physical intimacy), there are consequences you might not expect: getting isolated from other people (because seriously, if you are so lovey-dovey with someone, it kinda sends a shoo-go-away signal to other people by making them feel out-of-place); false expectations (especially if you start expecting/hoping, or worse, if you commit then find yourself in a breakup); and you can get out of focus — you may start preferring that person’s company over everyone else’s (including your family, close friends), to the point that you’d rather be alone if s/he is not around. And that is not a good thing, because when that person does disappear from your life, you’re gonna have one hell of a depression episode.
- When visiting someone else’s home, don’t just hangout/talk/interact with the person you’re visiting. You’re just being rude to the family — if you just want to see one person, then just go meet up outside or some place else. Now if the family ignores you after you try… well, you tried. They’ll be the ones missing out on how awesome you are (or can be).
- Being angry is natural. Expressing one’s anger is healthy. But releasing our anger at a person can be harmful. And wrong. Besides, there’s a right place to talk about it. Delaying one’s outrage can be difficult, but it will help you avoid any (potential) regrettable and embarrassing memories later on.
I believe the key to effectively practice correctitude is through a solid foundation of rectitude. We can never predict all the possible situations in this life, and a lot of circumstances would have us rely on where our moral compass points. Make sure it knows its directions well, and for sure, you won’t get lost on finding what’s right and wrong.
• • •
Want to know more about the be attitudes? Stay updated on the series:
#0 — Introduction
#1 — Gratitude
#2 — Rectitude & Correctitude
#3 — Certitude
#4 — Solicitude
#5 — Promptitude
#6 — Fortitude
#7 — Vicissitude
#8 — Quietude & Solitude