Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This, I Believe.

This, I Believe.

I believe in the basic goodness of mankind. I believe it is important to learn how to trust others. I believe that anyone that does harm to others against their will should be punished. I believe that no one should ever be forced to do anything against their will, except in punishment by an establishment of government or authority for crimes that they stand accused of by the majority.
I believe in humanity’s nearly limitless ability to create, and equally limitless ability to destroy. I believe in mankind’s nearly limitless ability to be imaginative and equally limitless ability to be ignorant. I believe in mankind’s nearly limitless ability to be selfless and equally limitless ability to be selfish.
I believe that the human mind can only hold so much information and when any information coming in does not fit into an individual’s worldview, the majority of the time it is immediately discarded or is translated to fit that individual’s view. I believe it is possible to keep an open mind, to not be threatened when new information presents itself. I believe that humanities best gift is their ability to think, to reason. It is what separates humanity from the animals. It is what allows for productive discourse and understanding to occur.
I believe that circumstance and teaching dictate a large part of where many people get their worldview. I believe that perception is the key to understanding. I believe that understanding is the key to empathizing. I believe that empathizing is the key to helping others grow. I believe that living life in the now and living it to its fullest is the purpose of life. Since mankind does tend to take things in black and white and read their own worldviews into what people say or write, please let me clarify. I do not mean to live life in the now by seeking hedonism, but instead I believe in focusing ones efforts to help others – all who share our journey through life - in the now, not in a future that is far from certain.
I believe that since the past is past, and the certain future is unknown to mankind, there exists only the present. I believe that living for a future that many believe to be certain instead of living in the present can be both good and harmful. I believe that people of all faiths and creeds have things they can learn from one another and that all it requires is the will of strong leaders to make it happen.
I believe in the healing power of love, the healing power of coming to the understanding of whatever spiritualism means to each individual and then working to come to an understanding of what it means to others. I believe that humanity is made up of rugged, cranky, cantankerous, selfish, sinful individuals and we all owe it to each other to find ways of making this journey we all walk together a good one.

My Controlling Values

The values that I hold dear to heart are things that I have been taught since I was young enough to remember. Since I was taught these things, they have been continually reinforced through interactions with others during my walk through life.
- Treat others as we would like to be treated, come to an understanding of how each individual would like to be treated as soon as possible and then treat others as they would like to be treated. In other words – common sense.
- Do no harm, harm defined as harming an individual or businesses life, limb, or property, without their permission to do so.
- Anything that does not fit into the two controlling values above tends to be situations that are debatable and should be discussed with others before making a decision.
- Be open to opposing viewpoints and learn to understand, even if you don’t agree with, their perspective. Be open to change. If someone has a better idea - do not be afraid to admit it.

How I Determine Right from Wrong

When making decisions, I always ask myself what is the right thing to do? Each person has a fundamental sense of right and wrong based on previous experience, their beliefs, and things they were taught, and I am no different. I use critical thinking skills based on everything I know to determine whether something is right or wrong. Sometimes the right thing isn’t always the popular thing or the easy thing to do, but instead can be make things more difficult. The true test of doing what is right is doing what you deem to be right despite fear of difficulty or going against the norms. After all, I am the one that has to live with the decisions that I make, and how those decisions affect others. Being aware of that fact alone is half the battle to finding a balance between the needs of a business or my personal needs, and the needs of others.
The litmus test of whether the decision I made was right or wrong is something called the conscience. A decision is either right, or wrong, or falls into a grey area – based on everything I know. Not everything is right or wrong, black or white, but every decision has the potential to have an impact of doing the most good or doing the least harm. I trust in myself and those I allow to influence me to guide that decision making process and do the right thing.

How I Resolve Ethical Dilemmas in my Personal and Professional Life

When faced with an ethical dilemma in my personal and professional life I realize two things. Everyone makes mistakes, and learning from those mistakes sets real decision makers and leaders apart from managers and those that follow the crowd. A manager says “do what I say, not what I do,” where a leader will say “come and join me in doing what I am doing.”
In order to resolve ethical dilemmas in my professional life I consult people that I know to be trustworthy and that have given good advice in the past if it is truly a dilemma I cannot resolve on my own. In my personal life I consult my wife. While she tends to defer decisions to me most of the time, I value her perspective more than any other because it will sometime contradict my original thoughts on a matter and lend new information to the decision making process. I believe it truly does take a great woman to tame every man. I mean that in the most sincere, loving way possible.

The Case for Adopting My Approach

As I have stated before, everyone has their own approach to ethical decision making. Everyone has their own values and morals that they have personally adopted. I believe that I do not claim ownership to the best approach. Therefore, I would not attempt to persuade anyone to adopt my approach unless first, it makes sense to that individual and they have taken the time to discuss it with me and adopt my approach on their own.
Instead I would take a moment and write about what I would do. I would attempt to convince others that it is worthwhile to come to a mutual understanding when it comes to ethical decision making. I would also work to communicate an organizations controlling values that should be part of the decision making process in professional ethical decision making.

The Impact of this Ethics Course

How did this class contribute to my deeper understanding of the role of ethics in my personal and professional decision making? This is a very good question. At the same time I am forming the idea of the kind of person that I want to become, I am faced with a course that brings up questions of ethics and forces me to think about taking a stand on issues. This is what ethics is about for me personally. It is about taking the time to think through an issue and based on personal beliefs making what is deemed to be the right choice. The right choice for one may not always be the right choice for another, however there is a common set of principles that most people may be able to agree on.
Going back to my beliefs, the key to being an ethical person both personally and professionally is first to do no harm. I’d like to call it the “mind your own beeswax” philosophy. If someone does something that does not harm you or others, what is the problem really? Is it one of personal preference? It may be unethical to one, but not to others. Common morality that is legislated today follows this thread. If you were to take a look at the ethical issues in the news today you would see that all of them harmed in one way or another, either the stakeholders in a company, the retirees that depended on their life-savings that are no longer there, or employees of a company, all through the greed displayed by executives.
I have my personal stand on issues, but I also see that there is a perspective that views the exact opposite as the “right” thing to do, and I think that being aware of this is one of the most important things I could take away from this class. In conclusion, I would like to mention that I still consider my beliefs, my opinions on such things a constant work in progress. I believe that becoming a figurative stone of ideas and becoming stagnant or growing “moss” is the surest way to stop growing as an individual. As the old adage says, “a rolling stone gathers no moss”. I am a rolling stone, and I will always be learning.

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