Have you ever had one of those moments where you lost all common sense for the smallest fraction of a second only to be bombarded by a magnitude of guilt the next second? To the point that you regret the moment you were even born?
I heard the alarm bells in my head even as I made that fatal decision. But even then, it was already too late. It was one of those moments where panic and fear seizes your heart so strongly that you abandon your morality and sense of responsibility. It was the kind of decision that leads to sleepless nights and hopeless mornings.
I panicked. But that in itself is an excuse. Even now, a small part of my heart whispers to me, chiding me for being a coward. I was afraid. I feared the consequences of my mistake and in my fear I had inevitably committed a graver sin. How's that for stupidity?
But in cases like these, where you do something to cover up a mistake, what are you supposed to do? It was a sin committed against God, an offense against my superior, and an insult to my integrity. Was I supposed to ignore the prickling of my consciense and swallow my principles just so I could escape this circumstance unscathed? Wouldn't that be cowardice? I didn't want to be a coward. Ironic, isn't it? Wasn't it my cowardice that got me in this situation in the first place?
If I confessed to my sin, there was a chance that I would lose all the work I've put into the last three years of my life. If I didn't, they probably wouldn't even notice it and everything will go on smoothly. In the end, it became a war between my worldly self and my morally upright self. How wonderful would it have had been if I could have had been able to put a mute on the warring voices in my head and pretend that nothing happened? The thing is, I heard them.
As an answer to my desperate prayers for guidance, I ended up watching a Korean drama(Who Are You, School Series 2015) that featured a similar circumstance. The teacher reminded his student that when you make a mistake and you choose not to put it to right, you might not suffer any immediate consequences but you might lose the ability to tell right from wrong. The words were nothing but simple facts but they resounded in my heart, reminding me of what I already knew. To seal the deal, the friend who recommended the series to me gave a solid advice.
"If you're stuck between two difficult choices, always choose to do the right thing."
I admitted my mistake to my superior. I had to wait over a week to hear the verdict. But I was able to rest relatively well, bar my discomfort over my superiors knowing about my blunder. I was not dismissed but was dealt a greater deal of consequence than I would have had been given had I not panicked in the first place.
Still, I learned what it truly means to take responsibility. I've proven that despite my half-heartedness in my course, I respect it enough that I could not allow myself to finish it by cheating myself and my superiors. I was reminded that there are things more important than a clean record, than pride, than reputation.
My words may be vague and confusing but let me be clear about my message. It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to be tempted to do wrong. It's okay to succumb to temptation. We are human. But let us not allow ourselves to lose our humanity by choosing to ignore our conscience.
Is your moral compass still functional?