According to a Greek saying, “the sick and the wayfarers bear no sin”. However, is being in a compromising situation a valid justification of an amoral behaviour? Let’s look into this dilemma using two examples.
The first example is about an unemployed person. She tries hard, she gets rejected over and over and over again by anybody she cares to be employed by. Her dream job is unattainable due to practical difficulties. Yet two of her classmates succeed quite easily in finding great jobs – one of which is indeed our heroine’s dream job. She first wonders what she did wrong. Then she starts loathing them. However, she is aware that this is not right, because these people got unique opportunities to build successful careers, which is a very good thing and she should feel happy for them.
The second example is about a woman who has a crush on this guy. She is afraid that the man she wants will find somebody else – prettier, more successful, with a more engaging character etc. She knows that if this happens, she will end up spitting all shorts of unpleasant words for both of them. But, objectively, she has no right to do so. On the contrary, she should feel happy if somebody she cares for is finally happy and emotionally fulfilled.
In both cases, the heroine is facing major moral struggles. On one hand, she understands that a society full of content people is a happy society. She can also rationalise the logic behind these people’s good fortune: they are by all means talented, with qualifications and personal charisma. Furthermore, if she has healthy tender feelings for another person, the other person’s happiness should be the main objective.
On the other hand, as much as one may try to force herself into developing such noble feelings, the whole endeavour may end up becoming a facade. It is truly challenging to go through a rough patch and at the same time maintain such a level of integrity. If people’s goal in life is their happiness, then it is almost impossible to be genuinely grateful for a happiness they are not part of. The nobility of the righteous behaviour may give them a feeling of content, but not genuine happiness.
Personal issues, though, cannot excuse the absence of kindness. Aeschylus has said that “It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered”. Allow me to add that it is also a trait that can be cultivated, even if it does not come naturally due to circumstances. Above all, it is a choice: it permits you to choose what type of person you want to be and what level of inner peace you are determine to achieve. Only in times of moral weakness you can truly put your character into the test and help it get stronger. Better times will come. The question is how to take advantage of the bad times to build yourself up.