When faced with choosing between two rights, how should we go about resolving the dilemma?
I don’t want to fight,” Arjuna confessed, lowering his bow and arrow on the battlefield at Kurukshetra. “What good will we get from killing our own kin?” he asked Krishna. He had two choices and both to him seemed morally correct. He had to choose between killing his extended family and upholding his dharma as a warrior-prince or decline to fight and lose any share in the kingdom, and perhaps live the life of a beggar. “If I kill my near and dear ones, I will have to enjoy pleasures smeared with blood – not something I want to do,” Arjuna says to Krishna when asked to stand up for his rights. To fight or not to fight, was his dilemma.
Nature Vs Development
More often than not, life brings us face to face with similar dilemmas where the choices are not all that black and white or between right and wrong. How then does one make the appropriate choice between right and right? One is faced with making the choice between what is right and again, what is right – a situation not just confined to the epics. We face such challenges in almost every sphere of life. Take, for instance, what policymakers face at the national level in areas such as apportioning of national resources. Should auctions determine who gets what and income pumped into public healthcare and education or ought resources to be given away at a token price to competent companies despite the risk that it could lead to monopolies and arbitary pricing?
The other sticky dilemma is making the choice between development projects that could provide jobs and generate income or refrain from doing so in order to preserve the environment. Should we build more factories and bigger highways for more production and faster movement of goods and services or should we let nature take its course, and have more of flowers, trees and meadows? Experts would probably say that with advances in science and technology and the creation of greater awareness, there is scope for sustainable development that would take care of both in some measure but this does not seem to be happening as yet and so the dilemma remains.
Employer Vs Employee
The trick is in finding the right balance between what needs to be done and what is doable, financially and ethically. Managers are often confronted with the unpleasant task of laying off staff to rein in expenses. Cutting costs help companies streamline operational expenses, increase profits for shareholders and raise salaries of remaining staff. From the employee’s point of view, however, it is denial of their livelihood for no fault of theirs. And what about the richness of experience that comes with long years of work? Is that now worthless? Here again, a conscientious manager would have to choose between employer and employee interests despite knowing that whatever he chooses to do, both are right.
Professor of business ethics at Harvard Business School, Joseph L Badaracco Jr, says, “Sometimes a manager faces a difficult problem and must choose between two ways of resolving it. Each alternative is a right thing to do, but there is no way to do both.” He says ethical dilemmas are part and parcel of a manager’s life. When facing odd situations, ‘thoughtful managers’ find themselves wondering about their values, all that they care about and how much they are willing to sacrifice.
You Are What You Choose
Gautama Buddha said that we are the result of choices we make in our lives. Every action we do leads to certain consequences. When we take ownership of the task at hand, a lot of thought goes into what we do or don’t do. “A mountaineer, close to the summit, finds a dying man on his way to the top. What should he do? Go for the summit or rescue the dying man? It’s a case study we did,” says Anant Nadkarni, corporate sustainability champion. The mountaineer he met told him that since he could do nothing to save the man, he waited with the man till he died. “To be able to take a courageous decision, you need to listen to your inner voice and this comes with practice,” adds Nadkarni.
Sri Chinmoy also suggests sitting quietly and listening to the inner voice: when you follow a spiritual path, your conscience will tell you what to do and what not to do. But to be able to use your conscience as guide, you have to be careful and remain calm and quiet; otherwise, your vital being will imitate the voice of your conscience and confuse you. It will make you feel that what you are doing is right, even though it’s wrong. So, if you listen to the voice in your head, perhaps you’ll never
You Are The Instrument
“Don’t despair,” Krishna tells Arjuna at Kurukshetra. “Even without you, none will be spared. All these warriors have been previously slain by me – such is the design. You are merely the instrument. Just fight and surely you will overcome your enemies in the battle.” Hearing this, Arjuna makes up his mind to fight.
Source: TOI – Speaking Tree
- How Relevant Are Leadership Lessons from an Ancient Indian Classic? (linusfernandes.com)
- We Are Eternal. ~ Vic DiCara (elephantjournal.com)
- Talent in epic proportions (thehindu.com)
- Sri Chinmoy (earthpages.wordpress.com)