Your town has been hit by a natural disaster. Many area residents have been evacuated from their homes, and outside support quickly arrives. At various spots around town, residents can receive free assistance ranging from blankets and clothing to food and tickets to performances and recreational outings. All you need to do is to show identification proving that you're a resident of the disaster-stricken town.
You've got the right identification, but as it happens your home was spared, you lost relatively little in the disaster and your life is continuing much as before. Still, free stuff is free stuff and no one is asking any questions.
Well, no one except me: Do you go to get some of the relief that's being offered to everyone in town? Or do you decide that, because you weren't as hard hit as others were, you'll pass?
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Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.
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