Those of us who’ve been on the planet for awhile often rail against the present by pointing to the past; as if the ethics of past generations were somehow beyond reproach. In truth, every generation has slid down the ethical scale in different ways but with equal aplomb. The difference is that today the very definition of ethics seems somehow open to new and more flexible interpretations. It’s a convenient thought process for those looking for an honesty loophole, and at times aren’t we all? By the way, if you answered no to the preceding question we at www.ethicsstupid.com would like to thank you for making our point.
The truth is that most of us don’t live the kinds of high-powered lives that would allow a lapse in our code of ethics to affect the world on a grand scale. After all, no wars will be started by the little, “white lie” I told a family member last night. No company and its stockholders will be sent to ruin by the supplies you stole from work this week. And no talking heads on CNN will pontificate endlessly about the parking space some idiot stole from under your nose at the grocery store today. We’re everyday, average people, and as such our lapses in personal ethics often fly under the radar. The sticking point is that as they do they become not only easier to rationalize, but easier to build upon. One good turn deserves another, and suddenly it’s us and not someone else sliding down the ethical scale.
Is it possible to live a completely honest and ethical life, even for a day? We’re talking no lies, no shortcuts, doing unto others, et al. The truth is that we all fall short of perfection every day. Furthermore, life isn’t always black and white. There are times when we believe that a “white lie” may save the feelings of someone close to us. The problem with that kind of thinking is two-fold. First, it sets-up a justification for lying. The second is that if a family member or friend finds out that we have lied to them, the next question usually raised is: “So, what else have they lied to me about?”
If we take the time every day to consider how we make decisions, it can go a long way to improving our ethical average. And that’s the whole idea. None of us will ever be perfect, but we can aspire to be better.
Contributed by C.W. for Ethics, Stupid
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