We are creatures who have the gift of free will, meaning we can choose our actions. Some of these choices are conscious, others unconscious. Typically, we choose actions that serve us in some way — it’s been our evolutionary advantage to do so. However, there are times when something else is more important than us bettering our own short-term position — maintaining social order that benefits us in the long-term. These are the times when ethics come into play.
Ethics are the social moral norms, and when we are ethical, we are adhering to those norms. Ethics guide us not to lie, cheat, or take an unfair advantage. They guide us to treat each other with respect and kindness; they urge us to “first, do no harm.” They are a reminder that we are not islands of humanity aimlessly floating in our own space, but rather we are all connected, and every single action we take has an impact on others. Being ethical not only helps us survive as individuals, but also helps our society thrive.
This week’s Challenge: This week, I will be conscious about my choices in thought, word and deed to ensure that I treat others with respect and kindness and that I “do no harm.”
Avoiding being Strict (overuse): Seeking ethical integrity is noble; becoming contemptuous and judgmental about being ethical can be harmful. It’s important to remember that none of us is perfect — especially because many of our actions are unconscious, and therefore unintentional. We’re all on a journey learning to become our best selves. If you see someone saying or doing something you believe to be unethical, by all means have the courage to address it (strongly when the context requires it), but do so with compassion and humility. The person is much more likely to hear your message, and therefore more likely to change their behavior if you do so.
Commendable Trait: Ethical
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