Reflections by the Philosophy Club: “Right”

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Senior Jake Meyer, President of Philosophy Club, can be seen pictured here.
Alex Livingstone
Senior Jake Meyer, President of Philosophy Club, can be seen pictured here.


As young adults, we are often challenged to find out for ourselves what we believe is morally or ethically right. We are pushed to build character as we mature and prepare to forge our own paths as adults. To this end, I believe that a conscious effort to improve oneself is a large part of what shapes our moral values.

Ernest Hemingway once said that “there is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility comes from being superior to your former self.” There is truth in this; the world’s greatest leaders, like Hannibal of Carthage or former President John F. Kennedy, are leaders that recognize their faults and work to make survival and success for themselves or their nation the priority; for Hannibal, not simply to crush other nations for the sake of violence, but to conquer large swaths of land in defiance of the Roman Empire; for President Kennedy, not simply to defy Soviet Russia or to fight the spread of Communism, but to encourage, as we like to say, “liberty and justice for all.”

This thinking is the kind of positive psychology that I believe builds better character in everyone, because it promotes the right moral course for the right reason. Indeed there is little to say for the morals of those who take but do not give and only seek to expand in order to be grander than others. Few leaders have made a point of this, but on September 3rd, 1939, in a call to action for the English Commonwealth against the forces of tyranny and Nazism, King George VI said that:

“Such a principle, stripped of all disguise, is surely the mere primitive doctrine that might is right, and if this principle were established through the world, the freedom of our own country… But far more than this, the peoples of the world would be kept in bondage of fear, and all hopes of settled peace and of the security, of justice and liberty, among nations, would be ended.”

King George’s words are clear: might is not right. We, as free people of the world have a moral duty to work for the benefit of others, and to bring everyone up rather than only ourselves. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what I believe is inherently and unquestionably right.