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Archive for December, 2007

ethics…

December 17th, 2007 3 comments
How often are we placed in a situation where we have to do the right thing? ethically right, morally right? how many of us actually think before doing if whether what we are doing is ethically right? is it morally right?

The concept, the idea of Ethics is a very fragile one, it changes from person to person and from situation to situation, we build a frame of reference throughout our lives as we go forward and keep referring to that when faced with situations where we have to decide, what happens when we come across a situation where there is no frame of reference or we come across a situation we’ve never encountered before nor have we heard of someone coming across something like that.

At what cost should you draw a line while doing what is “ethical” for that situation?

Does not doing the right thing mean doing the right thing even when no one is watching? is the fact that we are doing the right thing motivation enough to do the right thing even when we know that nobody is watching or nobody will ever know?

At my age I am still building a frame of reference, I can hardly say that I have enough reference points but what i do have is too many situations which make me think almost on a weekly basis and at times on a daily basis and it feels as if this is a never ending quest for reference points, there are too many different people in the world and too many points of views, and one man’s poison is anothers meat. The reference points keep on accumulating and at times even shifting.

What I need is another way to actually figure out what is right. I am by no means a saint nor do I claim to do the right thing always, although I do make an effort, but I am also guilty of actively skirting the ethics issue many a times.

And this in itself raises a question in my mind, how often do we have moments when we can say in retrospect that we did the right thing? Do morals hold any value these days?

How do you decide at times when you have no previous frame of reference, how much are you willing to pontificate on a decision for which you are not sure of the right moral or ethical ground? Is it easier to just go by what your gut feeling tells you is a lot less stressful but maybe not completely ethical?

I am reading Mahatma Gandhi’s “My Experiments With Truth” and in one chapter he talks about how he stole some gold from his brother’s chain to pay off a debt but then his conscience riddled him so much that he had to tell his father about it. And what affected him more was his father’s reaction, instead of getting angry his father was surprised and couldn’t help himself from crying at his youngest son’s honesty and this affected the young Gandhi more than a reprimand from his father would have.

What stayed in my mind from this episode is the fact that Mahatma Gandhi was only around 14-15 years old at the time of this incident, how does a child that young formulate a frame of reference what does he look towards when deciding what is the right thing? Can a child that young even have a conscience which is developed enough to needle him when he does the wrong thing?

Is it enough to trust your instinct when trying to be ethical? Can you be ethical all the time? Can you justify not being ethical at times?
Is it enough to do the right thing as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody? What if doing the right thing will hurt somebody else? What if doing the right thing will not hurt anybody except you?

Doing the right thing doesn’t mean that you have done something wrong for which you have to make amends, rather, the way I define it, is more of a situation where you are in a dilemma about what is the right course of action and each such situation is unique in its own way, each situation has to be dealt with in its entirety and a particular context and after the situation has finished we may decide how, if at all, it may serve as a reference point.

ethical dilemma.

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