Running red lights
The most common ethical dilemma is involved when taking someone to the hospital for emergency treatment by car. The law makes speeding and red lights illegal. However, this person could die if not treated quickly and in your car.
It is noteworthy to hear the number of people who say they would ignore all traffic rules and take them to the hospital. You’re probably saying that to yourself right now. But, in reality, few people do this.
Why won’t you probably break the laws?
He has been so strongly conditioned by society that he will be punished if he breaks laws and then publicly rejected or shamed for doing so. This is a more powerful impediment than any fine.
You will then begin to rationalize why you are not speeding or driving through red lights by saying to yourself;
- I have time and the doctors are very good
- I may have an accident myself and not make it to the hospital.
- I can hit and hurt another person
- If they die in my car, I did my best
- I don’t want to panic, and speeding will make me panic
What’s strange about this line of thinking is that it’s little about doing the right thing and more about your natural resistance to breaking the law.
You see a person steal food from a store
While shopping, you see a person stealing food right in front of you. Theft is illegal and they must be arrested, however you will start to wonder if the arrest is the right thing to do. You will quickly ask yourself questions to determine your action.
- Does the person appear to be starving or homeless?
- Does he look like a criminal?
- Have they done this before?
- Have you sought help from emergency food kitchens?
- Does it seem like they have money to buy food?
- How old are they. Children and the elderly are often excused for stealing food
See how you are trying to rationalize why they are stealing to find out what course of action to take. However, the ethical choice is always to let them have the food. This is due to the simple fact: if they need to steal, they need the food.
If you report or arrest them, you are not being ethical or doing the right thing. But wait a second, what about the right thing about all of us? If we accept theft as acceptable, where does it end?
If I steal 200 kg of meat, is that need or desire? What limit is acceptable to you and society in terms of being ethical or breaking the law. If your family needs food, do you only take what you need or do you take more to survive longer?
The problem of ethical behavior
The biggest problem with being ethical is that it often means that you are willing or need to break many laws in the pursuit of doing good. The organization will fire you if you make ethical decisions instead of taking care of the organization. Friends will think that he lacks responsibility because his actions will not follow the rules of order of society.
Growing up, we are not encouraged or trained to be ethical, we are trained to follow the laws so that we can all live safely together. Here are some ethical decisions that we have to make often in our daily lives;
- We know that smoking kills, but we stand by and watch our friends commit suicide by smoking.
- After going out at night and having a few drinks, we let people drive knowing they are intoxicated and someone is likely to be killed.
- We know that counterfeit products, such as branded handbags, are made by slave labor, often children forced to work, and yet we buy them because they are cheap.
- Many of us pass someone who is sleeping on the street, but we do not offer them shelter in our place.
- We walk down the street and mentally, sometimes verbally, insult others we pass by by making comments about their size, weight, appearance, sexual preferences, or race.
- We continue to use gasoline to drive our cars because we are too lazy to walk anymore and we consume our natural resources unnecessarily.
We all know what is right in each of these ethical situations, but we rationalize why we don’t. How many times this week have you made unethical decisions?