Ethics should be the backbone of every decision made on a personal level. The values we hold, we demonstrate to the world by making choices that encompass them. All people have different values, and it is important to reflect on these throughout life, and to notice when your values change. Many of my values, I developed at an early age and I continue to hold these beliefs, but as I have grown and experienced diversity I allow for these values to change and grow with me. As I make decisions, especially important ones, I consider many things to ensure that the decisions align with my personal ethics. A few questions I ask myself are: is this choice going to do more harm than good? How would this decision affect others and is that going to have a positive, negative, or unknown impact? Would I be proud if this decision was broadcasted to the world? Am I being honest with others and myself in this decision? Is this decision going to encourage trust and inclusion within the group of people I am working with? Am I going to feel like a better person with this decision? Is this in any way a selfish decision that is only benefiting me? Or is this a decision that is going to have long-term positive impacts on those whom it affects, myself included? If everyone in society made this choice, would the world be a better place? In all of my decision making, I ask myself these questions to make certain that I am aligned with my principles to promote good and reduce harm, to have pure motivations and to make decisions I can be proud of today and into the future. I try to make decisions that uplift and encourage others, that do not harm anyone and that do not harm the environment.
I grew up with 8 cousins on the same farm. From age 7, I was put to work helping to plant seeds, pick flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and eventually learning to manage the family produce stand. I was taught to value hard work, creativity, and intelligence. I was also taught how to care for others, how to volunteer, and how to live honestly. Many of my ethics developed from experiences I gained while growing up, working on the farm, and being actively involved in girl scouts and church. I think that having good role models, teachers, scout leaders, and grandparents around helped me to develop a sense of right and wrong, but also to question right and wrong. I suppose somewhere along the way I learned to treat every human with dignity and respect, no matter what. I learned that it’s okay to make mistakes and to forgive. I learned to look for the bigger picture but to remember there will always be things I cannot see, cannot know, and cannot fathom. Despite the pains of life, I learned to love others, to be optimistic, to hope, and to appreciate the good things.
My personal ethics drive my personal decisions but also affect others. As I move to the work force my decisions may have more of an impact, and I want to make sure I can communicate these ethics to an external audience well. I think that communication of ethics can only occur through observation of actions. Conducting myself well and making sure I don’t do anything outside of my ethical boundaries will show others the kind of person I am. If I ever become a leader of an organization or business, since you can’t really know what individual values people hold, I would establish a set of ethics that all individual decisions can align with. These values must be made very clear so that people can be held accountable to them. Until then, I’ll try to set a good example and bring up relevant ethical questions as situations come up when I am working with others. I’ll communicate my ethical motivation through ethical action and when I get the opportunity, also share the reasoning behind the action.
I truly believe that our values, principles and ethics, drive our decisions as humans. As we move up in society, our decisions have a larger effect on the social environment we are a part of. How we choose to define our ethics on a personal level as well as on an organizational level play an important role in shaping the future. This is interesting because we also define ethics as the moral principles that govern our decisions- moral principles that are based on what most people perceive as right and wrong. So the decisions we make impact societies’ values, and the ethics we adopt, based on the common morality of the day, drive the decisions we make. But as you travel to the far and wide places of the planet, you’ll find that values differ greatly from culture to culture.
While the ethics of decision making, and effects on society, may seem like some sort of positive feedback loop, with more diversity, the ethic of decision-making changes. In my opinion, it is important to introduce diversity in decision-making. While each person is taught a core set of values growing up, it is essential to continually question these values and to allow for moral growth, and a widening of ‘moral imagination’ as we are exposed to those with values differing from our own. I didn’t formally study ethics until my philosophy class last year. Philosophy of ethics revealed to me that with a different philosophy different people will come to very different decisions about what is or isn’t ethical. For example if you value all life equally, and do not believe that human life is more valuable than animal or plant life, you would make radically different choices that someone who believes humans are above all other living things. If you are a utilitarian you’ll try to do the most good for the most people and not necessarily try to help just a few people who are more needy. As you can see, trying to figure out what is right or wrong can easily become a grey situation, with multiple right or wrong solutions. Either way, as an individual I believe it is necessary to define your principles and then do your best to abide by them, as I have.