Your mother tells you not to cross the street. An elderly neighbor across the street tumbles to the ground, and desperately needs help. Although you’re only seven, you’re the only person around. Do you disobey your mother, and cross the street to help the old person. Or do you obey your mother and let the old person struggle to get up?
Do you follow the letter of the law, or the spirit? Your mother most likely told you not to cross the street out of concern for your safety. You’re usually too excited to look both ways, and she doesn’t want you to get run over. At the same time, your mother has also taught you to be kind to others, and to help you neighbors.
Scenario 1: You wave at the old man, explaining that you’re not allowed to cross the street. The old man curses and fumbles around for twenty minutes before finally getting to his feet.
Scenario 2: You look both ways and carefully cross the street and help your neighbor to his feet. He kindly thanks you and smiles as you skip back across the street.