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Monday, 6 December 2010

Doing the Right Thing

Yesterday I went to a watercolour painting for beginners class here - it was good fun and this was my first attempt. We had copied a picture done by the teacher and she had held our hands, as it were, taking us step by step along the way and teaching us the various techniques required to produce this picture. I didn't win the bag of chocolate gold coins (so beloved of teachers at this time of year - I used to use them as a prize myself back when I taught adults) but I was happy with the result. Pity I have already got all my Christmas cards ready for posting or I might have used it to make a few!
Today's post has been inspired by a recent blog and is about Doing the Right Thing. Relatively Retiring spoke about whether she had done the right thing in feeding the wildlife so well in her garden or whether she had in fact upset the balance of Nature. I then thought of the times I feel I SHOULD do this or that and whether or not it would actually help such as:
Should we purchase things which have been made by underpaid workers in sweatshops whether overseas or in this country? My immediate response is a resounding No we shouldn't as these poor souls are being exploited BUT then again if we don't will they have no income at all and thus be unable to support their families?
You know my feelings about consumerism and Christmas - BUT am I doing any good by not purchasing goods to give as gifts which later end up in landfill sites and giving to my chosen charity Centrepoint to help the homeless young people instead or will the shops go out of business if enough of us follow my example and thus more young people will end up on the streets and needing Centrepoint's assistance?
I hate the huge supermarkets and the way they can ride roughshod over the farmers and producers they buy from BUT if they lose even one of their branches because enough of us refuse to shop there where will all those who work there go to find work? This was brought home to me by one of my friends who feels as I do about one of our supermarket chains but her son works for one of them and in rural Wales jobs are hard to come by and sometimes one's principles have to take a back seat.
Should I condemn those who cover their homes with flashing lights at this time of year for their profligate use of our limited resources or should I be applauding their generosity in giving to charity the money they collect by so doing?
I remember being taught at Sunday School that doing the right thing might not always be easy - it's not doing the right thing that is so difficult it's know what is the right thing that makes it so hard!
Truly finding one's way through the moral maze is incredibly difficutl and as with most questions in life there are no right answers just different ways of looking at things. What do you think?
Hope to add to the ringing tills soon when I purchase a new camera but until then I am sorry for the lack of illustrations!


  1. Oh far too much thinking going on there! My head hurts now ;-) Certainly as you say its knowing what IS the right thing to do that is hard at times. Let me know when you have worked out this dilemma ;-)

  2. Lots to think about there. If only things were clearly labelled right and wrong it would make life so much easier but then I suppose you would get into the question of freedom of choice. No easy answers to this one I think.

  3. I love your water colour, well done what a lovely effort!

  4. Oh Jane, you are so hard on yourself!
    Firstly your first watercolour is super - it is such a difficult medium, and yet under valued in the art world. It is so unforgiving, unlike oil where you can paint over an area you don't like, with watercolour you have to start again. Keep at it.
    As for your dilemma, Mr T always uses this quotation from Twelfth Night's Sir Toby Belch:
    "Out o' tune, sir: ye lie. Art any more than a steward? Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" as a reminder that there should be room for a bit of indulgence at Christmas as well as doing good. It also goes as a reminder that these questions have dogged people for many centuries.
    Be good, but don't forget to enjoy yourself too:)

  5. Great questions and the Moral Maze is such a good way of describing it all...

    I read a lovely article about a mum who ran a very home-made, green Christmas for her family, but included walks around the town to admire others' Christmas light displays amongst her family activities. She said: 'It's not what I would do but we enjoy it and I won't judge them', and I thought that was a nice, mellow approach.

    We also boycott Nestle due to their baby milk nastiness, but in one of our churches there were many people who worked for, or had pensions from, a factory which had been bought by Nestle. It was an early example to me that 'the right thing to do' can vary according to your circumstances. In general, boycotting Nestle is a good idea, and it seems to be working, too. But in that community, telling people that they worked for an Evil Empire was really very inaccurate and unfair. So we learned to keep a lid on that one, and just promote Fair Trade produce, instead of reviling Nestle. I think that was right.

    And the RSPB are surely still telling us to feed birds, so that must be The Right Thing, huh? I shoudl check out that post and get properly informed...

  6. Lovely watercolour - amazed its your first go! re the dilemmas you talk about - frequently debated here too - v difficult if you live in rural areas and have work with big companies. In the end you can only do your best. I have a big problem re what to do about people begging when we're travelling. Just by being there, we're clearly far, far richer than them (financially anyway!), but you can't give to everyone............

  7. I'm impressed by your lovely water colour Jane - it looks very topical!

    As to the moral maze; this will always be difficult to negotiate as there are many different perspectives and viewpoints. You can't carry all the woes of the world on your shoulders and I agree with Jill.

    Just be true to yourself.


  8. Did you really do that? You are very clever, I'm sending you a virtual gold coin!

    Thanks for your lovely comment. Keep warm too xx

  9. I love your watercolour Jane, I hope you've been encouraged to keep at it.
    As for the right thing to do, well there will always be questions when a decision needs to be made. I think we just have to decide, go for it and trust our own judgement and accept the fact that sometimes we will make the wrong decision! We are after all only human.
    Vivienne x

  10. Jane, the watercolor is very soft and pretty. I like your questions and it is difficult to know what to do. I think of this myself, when I decide I should not be spending money (foolishly) here in my little town--that I can do without what the stores here are offering--but if everyone in town thinks that, the stores would go out of business and add to the unemployment. Economic times are tough here. BTW, I like your single photo on your blog header. I just changed mine, but I think it looks messy--I think I'll change it again and just use one, clean, photo like you have done. thanks for stopping by. Have a good day, Jane.

  11. phew, i think half of the world must be in a dilemma about christmas now, its so commercial, so i guess we just be reasonable with ourselves, and buy ehtically as much as possible. I must say here in the antipodeas its becoming impossible to do this, we are inundated with products from china, its rare to find anything made locally. I have already bought most of my things from our big chain store Myers, they have everything and its all aircon- too hot and humid here!
    That watercolour is fabulous, you deserve a big bag of gold coin chocs!

  12. Jane you are so the watercolour.

    I think we all have to answer to ourselves. I try so very hard to do the right thing.....and if my intentions are good and honourable I do not question myself. If I make mistakes, and we all do, I learn from it and move onto the next chapter.
    I sometimes think, we as woman, think much too deeply and therefore get confused about which way to go with something.

    I like to think I make a my heart I know I do.
    I also know that your intentions are honourable and you also are helping with regard to the issues you care about......

  13. Thank you for your blog comment yesterday. I am with you on the above, it certainly is a moral maze and it is so hard to do the "right thing" all the time. Perhaps we just have to aim to strike a sensible balance? Lizzie x

  14. That's a beautiful picture yopu painted for your first attempt, well done. Lucey xx

  15. Well done with that tricky water-colour.
    Thanks for including me in your moral maze. I was helped my a comment on that post from
    Not even the highest level experts can agree in so many areas.

  16. Lovely painting, Jane. Watercolour is difficult to get right, well done. You raise so many isssues here that we constantly debate. Husband refuses to use supermarkets - but that can entail using petrol to drive to farm shops etc. The local shop has closed so now we have to travel 3 miles to get decent bread. We can only take each decision as it arises and live with it - gosh life gets difficult, doesn't it.

  17. Wow Jane ! This is your first go at water colour? It is lovely. Wow! Wow! Wow! I'm soooo impressed. I bet you can sing too?
    I read with interest your debate about "doing the right thing" and I understand the dilema. I think all you can do is consider these things carefully, choose your path and act. It seems there's no easy answer so all we can do is try to be true to ourselves.

  18. I think 'doing the right thing' is doing what YOU feel is right yourself - never mind what other people feel the right thing is!!! Your first attempt at watercolour painting is fantastic. Keep it up! x

  19. Really like your watercolour Jane. As for doing the right thing...I think this is subjective. You must do what feels right for you personally. It's a moral maze out there!

  20. Seems I'm not the only one who tohught that watercolour was pretty damn good for a first attempt! Hope you're thinking about doing more? Another pensive post Jane. It seems the season this year is a thought provoking one for many of us. I love Jill's reference to Sir Toby. Not a bad way of looking at things perhaps. Lesley x

  21. Lots of food for thought, it is difficult know what the right thing is Jane. Beautiful watercolour x

  22. I LOVE your painting and I'm not being polite, it's really good! How satisfying it must have been for you to create. You have painted it in a style that I like.
    I look forward to seeing more of your work :-)
    Isabelle x

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  24. Hi Jane,

    Love the painting and thanks for your support of Centrepoint.

    Have you thought about buying a gift from Centrepoint Gifts?

    Instead of buying a gift that will end up on a landfill, as you say above, you can buy a gift that could change a homeless young person's life this Christmas - everything from hot meals to a bed for the night.

    You can see the gifts available at

    Many thanks and have a great Christmas,
    The Centrepoint Team


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