Some time ago, I overheard a discussion between some folks. They were describing how they would not give a contract to a particular colleague in their department because she is too good.
In their words, “…I cannot trust her because she is too ethical.”
I began to ask myself, who else do you want to trust if you cannot trust an ethical person? What does it mean to be too ethical? Is there a difference between being ethical and being too ethical?
I intentionally stayed longer to hear them describe what it meant to be ‘too ethical’ and they talked about how she doesn’t engage in dubious acts at the workplace and how she stands up quickly to demand justice and fairness; that the world doesn’t work that way.
Are these being too ethical or just being rational?
They said that in a world full of evil, we need ‘smart’ people that can navigate their ways and win.
I got back that day with a heavy heart, thinking about how people I knew saw the world- that there is a certain need to be unethical because, the world is unethical. Then I ask, do two wrongs make a right? Or do we quench fire with more fire?
So What Is Ethics?
Ethics is simply:
- to act intelligently as opposed to being carried away by emotions, where to act intelligently is to consider the means to use to attain most effectively our objectives and weigh not just the means but the values of the ends;
- To take into consideration the interest of others when making decisions as opposed to acting in a purely egoistic manner.
Why can we not all do this?
Some of us may want to argue that the structural deficiencies in society support unethical behavior and I agree. But is this enough reason for us to act unintelligently?
Would you say because the system is corrupt, I too will be corrupt? How does this help you become a reasonable person? How does this help you attain your goals?
Some may argue that there is hunger in the land. A more superior argument is why will you trade your soul and integrity for hunger?
Others may say others are doing it. is your name others? Why don’t you focus on what your name is and the image you want to leave behind with that name? Have you not heard that a good name is better than riches? These same reasons are excuses people give to steal, to ruin their dignity, to sell their birthrights.
Yet, all of these are not excuses or reasons sufficient enough to live dishonest or unethical lives.
We need a generation of people that will stand up for what is fair and just; right and noble.
Wake up and be part of the generation!
How can we be part of the move for ethics?
- By recognizing like Mary Gentile said, “that we are all capable of speaking and acting on our values and recognizing that we have not always done so.” In her words, this is both empowering and enlightening.
- After this, we can begin to give voice to ethics one word at a time.
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