Situational Ethics

A while ago, at work, a situation came up that left me uneasy. I met with my colleagues and my boss, and it became apparent that it left us all uneasy, and as my boss said “that’s not the kind of business we do”, I realized that I worked in the right place.

I was glad we all agreed, because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if we couldn’t agree, if I was the only one who said “I don’t like the way this feels. This isn’t the kind of business I want to be in, the kind of consultant that I want to be”. I love my job, but I could not have stayed. As it was, it was a completely moot point, because everyone agreed we weren’t those people and the matter was over. I didn’t even have to marshall my arguments.

I’m working with a third party on something, and it’s that same feeling.

The older I get (ha, ha) the more I realize, it’s not just about your ethics when no one is looking, when a party doesn’t have the capacity to realize what you have done, it is *especially* about your ethics then.

It is especially about when you look and you say “sure, I could do this. They don’t know any better. I could get away with it. But I won’t do it. It’s still wrong.” 

It is especially about how well you guard the interests of others, even when it hurts you. It is especially about when you have to stand up and say “No. I won’t. If you insist, you do it. I actually cannot stop you. I very much wish I could. But know this clearly, if I am asked, I will tell them that I don’t agree with what you are doing.”

At the end of the day, it’s about what kind of world I want to be in, what kind of world I want to create. These are the situations that we create that world. It doesn’t always seem easy in the heat of the moment to stand up against a relatively small thing. It seems easier to just let it go.

Until you realize, the world is made up of small things.

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4 Responses to Situational Ethics

  1. debby says:

    Perhaps I’m just an odd duck, but Mrs. Spit, when I ignore the small things, they make me feel terrible in a very big way.

  2. Scientistmother says:

    Could you be our prime minster?

  3. Maureen says:

    This past winter, I was in a situation where by far, the easiest thing to do was to keep my mouth shut. I was advised by a couple people to do so. Ethically, I couldn’t.

    And then after I opened my mouth, things spiraled out of control, with me in the center. The very people who advised me to keep my mouth shut, were among the loudest people telling me that I had to then speak up because it was ‘just wrong’. It was just as ‘wrong’ before that point, if not more so because it was being hidden.

    As I said right before I made the $hit hit the fan, it was about me being able to be me. Me being able to stand before God and be proud of MY actions. Of me being able to be okay with myself when I tell my kids to do the right thing, not the easy thing.

  4. Ms. Fab says:

    Well said my friend. Well said.

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