Personal Ethics and Fresh Choices

It has been said that values, morals and ethics are inextricably tied together. Values are what we learn from childhood; the ‘stuff’ we absorb from our parents and immediate surroundings. Morals are the intrinsic beliefs developed from the value systems of how we ‘should’ behave in any given situation. How are we doing?

Ethics, on the other hand, are how we actually do behave in the face of difficult situations that test our moral fiber. In his book, “How Good People Make Tough Choices,” Rushworth Kidder notes four basic paradigms of ethical decisions: justice versus mercy; short-term versus long-term; individual versus community; and truth versus loyalty.

He goes on to define the concepts further:

  • The point behind the justice-versus-mercy paradigm is that fairness, equity, and even-handed application of the law often conflict with compassion, empathy, and love.
  • Short-term versus long-term, or now versus then, reflect the difficulties arising when immediate needs or desires run counter to future goals or prospects.
  • The individual-versus-community paradigm can be restated as us versus them, self versus others, or the smaller versus the larger group.
  • Truth versus loyalty can be seen as honesty or integrity versus commitment, responsibility, or promise-keeping.

Expressing one’s personal grasp of ethics and life may not always be understood in the context of the world at large, the immediate environment, or even amongst the intimate others in the household. This is usually due to the fact that every person has some difference, small or great, in the development of their belief systems.

Belief systems are established early in life through environments of home, church, school, and social gatherings which help to mold and shape these beliefs. Most of these beliefs and patterns of behavior are established through the unconscious observations and experiences of childhood in the aforementioned environments. These I refer to as ‘outer’ experiences which are akin to the ‘nurture’ piece of the ‘nature-nurture’ developmental processes. Allow me to use my own ‘outer’ experience as an example.

I knew that I was adopted by the time I was five. My adoptive parents were ideal by some standards, demonstrating honesty, integrity, and willingness to address conflict with style and grace even in the most difficult of situations. Dad was a tool and die machinist, building plastic injection molds for General Motors optical division and was also a 32nd Degree Mason. Mom was an educator with a master’s degree in Music and English and taught middle school English and Literature.

They were a formidable team for an adolescent with growing pains, encouraging me to challenge and explore my world. My parents taught me that honesty was the best policy, even when the details may not be too favorable. They taught me the meaning of trust which was not being afraid even when I felt vulnerable. Of course that does not mean that I am able to apply that wisdom always, although age does have its advantages. They encouraged me to think and ask questions, even when they are unpopular.

I grew up in a Christian framework and didn’t explore other religions until an NDE spurred me explore and hopefully discover the common thread that simply must be at the core of them all. There is a spiritual and material convergence in the fabric of life, if indeed all things are connected. Where we’ve [humans] held ourselves back has been the enigma, the cosmic conundrum of how to live in harmony with the natural world and therefore creation as a whole.

There are  discoveries of natural laws, scientific ‘breakthroughs’ demonstrated by experiments at Los Alamos, for example. Some educators scramble to include these discoveries in their lesson plans and current event discussions. It often confronts superstitious belief systems that have plagued religions for millennia. Have we found new truth?

These discoveries and information sharing  exponentiates as millions of people share with each other through social networks, blogs, newsfeeds, etc. Where is it taking us? Or rather, where do we want to go? Do we really have to let religious confusion trump common sense?

 

Zen Benefiel is a multi-degreed transformational life coach and possibilities coagulator.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: