Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nebulous wholesome nouns are important things

Today at lunch I wasn't charged for my samosa.  I noticed it at checkout and purposely didn't mention it to the cafeteria lady.  Errors at checkout just happen—sometimes they overcharge me and sometimes they undercharge me, and I don't mention it either way because I figure that it will roughly balance itself out over time.  I believe this to be a moral course of action.  But I already wrote what I think was a pretty good post on these sorts of moral trivialities so I don't feel a need to write another one.

What I wondered about on the way to my office is why it matters.  Why does it matter to do the right thing on such an incredibly trivial issue?  It's extremely difficult to argue that if it were immoral for me to have not mentioned the existence of that samosa on my plate (thereby effectively stealing it), to have mentioned it would have made the world a better place.  At face value, it would have transferred two dollars from my account to that of a corporation.  The effect on my life: miniscule; the effect on the lives of that corporation's shareholders: negligible.  So why does it matter?

Always doing the right thing is important to me, because I strive to be the best person that I can be.  But it's also important to me that things matter and that there's a reason for things, because I'm an engineer, and because I'm an INTJ.

The epiphany I had on the trek back to my office really intrigued me: maybe always doing the right thing on the little issues matters because it primes and prepares and trains you to do the right thing on the big things that do matter.  Perhaps integrity and honor and love and all of those sorts of nebulous wholesome nouns are important things to strive for even when it comes to the most unimportant, everyday issues, because they are how we practice making decisions so that we can make the right ones when the time comes.

What I do know, though, is that God still loves me, because I bit into that samosa and there was meat inside.  Not just any meat, but beef.  There was ground-up dead cow inside of my Indian food.  It was delicious and culturally insensitive and the best samosa I've ever had.  God works in mysterious ways.

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