I filled-in for WBAP Morning News anchor Carla Marion last week. Every time I do that I face an ethical decision and I'm sure I always make the wrong choice.
When I roll in to work at 3:30 in the morning there is a traffic light in downtown that I always choose to run. I won't say exactly where because I don't want the police to stake it out and catch me.
Why do I run it? Well it seems that during the dead of the early morning this light never - and I mean never - changes from red to green. I've sat there for several minutes waiting for the green light and it never comes.
So now I hardly even think about waiting for the light to change. I know I'm breaking the law, but I have to get to work. And if the light's not going to change I've got to get going.
Does my convenience merit ignoring the red light? Probably not. I justify my actions by saying to myself that there is no traffic anywhere on this street at this time of the morning, so as long as I carefully survey my surroundings and see nobody coming, I can drive through the intersection safely, although illegally.
I suppose this is sort of like speeding. When I exceed the speed limit I'm breaking the law. And so are you. I say it's OK because I'm not driving like a bat out of Hell like the guy who passed me going 90 in a 65 mile per hour zone. I'm only doing 68 or 70, so that makes it somewhat better, correct?
Every day we choose what laws to obey. Don't we all face those choices and whether to interpret the laws of the land more like guidelines than actual legally binding laws.
Ever take extra sugars or sweetener or napkins when you get your coffee at the local Starbucks? Have you ever grabbed more salt and pepper packets or other condiments like those terrific hot sauce packets at Taco Bell than you really need for the meal you just purchased?
Is that breaking the law? Is that stealing? I suppose by the letter of the law it could be interpreted as such. However, I don't see anybody getting arrested over it.
Heck I make it a habit to grab extra napkins when I grab a burger. I keep them in my truck in case I spill something or need something to blow my nose on.
Again, I suppose that could be interpreted as stealing. If not stealing, it's at least cutting into the profits of that business.
So, whether it's a red light that won't change or taking a few extra ketchup packets, it's sticking a toe across the right and wrong line.
We all do it. It's human nature. It doesn't make it right, but I don't really expect any of us to change...like that light in downtown Dallas.
That's what I'm thinking.