As a child, most of my friends were taught by their parents that it is wrong to lie, cheat, and steal. I, on the other hand, just learned the exact opposite in my own home. I started talking to myself, “Well, Nereyda, Ethics prevent chaos on the world, they are the concept of right or wrong. It can be considered as a foundation for a civilized society. The role of ethics in our society is very necessary because it has a huge influence to today, as well as to the future. We need to learn about good ethics because they guide our decisions, make us who we are, and determine our future.
At home, I did not learn much about ethics. I had a great grandma and she taught me some principles that are related to ethics: we should love the other persons as we love ourselves, no matter at what cost we should respect human life. I should care and listen to others and that no matter the cost. We should respect human life. The last and most important advice she gave me was that what was happening at home was not the normal standards for a family or for society.
My environment was always at chaos. My father was an abuser and I was being physical, physiological and sexually abused by him. My boundaries were violated and respect was the one that I missed the most. I did not have the ability to say no or to even get mad without being hit. My own opinions were criticized all the time. Ethics was nowhere to be found except at grandma’s house.
These aspects of my life contributed greatly to how much I perceive ethics. Since the topic at hand concerns what is right and what is wrong. Will the different parts of my life display when I was wrong or when I was right. Based not only by given facts, but also by my experiences, ethics seems to be a distorted topic to talk about. However, during my journey through this course, with my baggage from my past, I learned a thing or two.
Week One: Ethics and the World of Sense
During the first week, as we get introduced with the topic at hand, we were asked to define the words that are most vital for the entire course. With the help of Wikipedia, Ethics is defined as a concept that aims to analyze the difference between what is right and what is wrong. According to the same article, it is also about having and living a life that is worthy and satisfying. Philosophers find this more important than questioning the morality of one person.
From other sources, it is defined as a system wherein moral principles are based on. Ethics is also based on a culture. This means that different cultures have different ethical standards where their daily lives are based upon.
Moreover, it is also considered as a set of rules wherein their conducts are recognized in relation to certain category or group of human activities or culture. This involves Christian ethics and medical ethics. Ethics is also about the moral principles of an individual, not just the group.
Ethics is a philosophy that deals with values in relation to human action and conduct. The rightness and wrongness of the act done by a human being is not only measured by his actions. It is also important to take note of the motives behind these actions, as well as the output of these actions.
According to the assigned texts, ethics refers to how the study was formed to give explanation to certain facts already established. It also consists of principles and standards that do not predict the next activities and action, but merely be a guide wherein one bases choices, decisions, and actions.
With the provided definitions, I believe that learning and understanding, as well as having, ethics is very important. The reason behind this claim is that it helps prevent chaos on the world. Since it is able to help give sense as to why one thing is right and another thing is wrong promotes the preservation of the entire humanity.
Based on the readings, as well as my experiences, there are certain issues that I wish to elaborate on in relation to ethics. The first of which is love. Love is a wonderful thing. Especially if it the true love, which we all hope to experience in our lives, one would say that a man could die happily with a smile on his face. Love begins within us. I believe that before we could love ourselves, that is when we could love others. When we love others, it makes the world a better place to live on. Unfortunately, there are other definitions of love. But they might not be true, and that would not help the world. I also found a different kind of respect for the human life, based on my experiences. With this, I think we should all find this meaning and from it provide ourselves a sense of ethical standard. Moreover, we should also value respect for others. We should care and listen more often for other people.
There are personal situations that influenced my choices in which values are important to me. Ethics is a condition for human life. It is our means of deciding a path of action. Without it, our actions would be random and meaningless. There would be no way to work towards a goal because there would be no way to pick among immeasurable numbers of goals. Even with an ethical standard, we may be unable to pursue our goals with the prospect of success. To the degree which a rational ethical standard is taken, we are able to correctly organize our goals and actions to accomplish our most important values. Any fault in our ethics will reduce our ability to be successful in our undertakings. This gives the world much sense than it originally had.
At home, it was always chaotic. I come from an abused family. I was physical, physiological and sexually abuse for my dad. As you can see all my boundaries were violated but out of all ethics that we didn’t have at home. Respect was what I lacked most. It would have been nice to have the ability to say no or to get mad without being hit, to have my own opinion without being criticize all the time.
Week Two: Humanist, Secular and Religious Ethics
Humanist ethics. This type of ethics is about the promotion of having a basis for universal morality based on the concept of human nature. The knowledge of what is right and wrong is based on a certain level of understanding of interests both of the individual and of a group. It is not stemming from a local source. It is about rejecting faith as a basis for action. Their goal is to search for principles viable for individual, social and political conduct. It is judging them based on the ability to enhance human well being and alleviating suffering.
Secular Ethics. This type of ethics, on the other hand, is a branch of the philosophy wherein ethics is a basis for the human facilities in logic, reason and moral intuition. It is not derived from the supernatural revelation or guidance, as others believe.
Religious Ethics. In contrast to Secular Ethics, this type of ethics relays to how ethics is derived from supernatural revelations and guidance. There are a lot of religions who have different ethical standards based on the teachings of their prophets or gods. This is when most standards of culture or religious sect may clash with another practice.
It is hard for me to talk about ethics, based on my experiences. But I also know that it is also a way of relating and treating other people. This week’s journal allowed me to realize that ethics can actually help me in more ways than one. It can also help us in the following concepts. Authenticity: I am able to know my gifts and how I can improve myself. I am genuine. Allegiance: I become loyal to my beliefs and values. Genuineness: I have the courage to be myself and to live out my values, dreams, and talents. Integrity: I follow my values so people can trust me. Self control: I have the strength to make hard choices; I remember my goals and my values. It is a process and I think that Ethics will help me to get in touch with who I am, what I want and to feel for sure that is ok and how to go for it.
I am a survivor. I am always wrestling with decisions. I’m a single mom with 2 kids. My mom is always trying to drive me emotionally; she becomes the poor lady and me the bad daughter. When she is next to me, she tries with all her tools to poison my emotions. At the same time is my mom. Even if she did not do anything to stop the abuse of my father, even if she acts like never happened and try to become my dad’s victim and change the end of the story, she is my mom.
This is where the wrestling part is: My mom came to this country 3 years ago and she pretends that I provide for her. She will not have to worry if she has enough money or a car because at the same time I will have to drive her where she wants it when she wants. That is definitely my mother.
I cannot provide for her because I have my own babies or should I take her like the ancient lady that she pretends to be? She is 60 years old. She is no longer a baby. Sometimes, I consider her the most problematic teenager, especially when she is living with me. She is my mom, but she is sometimes she is also a sort of poison. What should I do with this? What is to be considered as right? Should I forget that is my mom and act according to the best interest of my family? I think to have numb feelings is the best to handle this. Like a problematic teenager, these are my rules my family and there are boundaries that should not be crossed.
Week Three: Dealing or Solving Problems
According to Weston and Abelson, Braking set means to try to go beyond our usual habits. Random Association would mean to find a stimulus to break the set. Intermediate impossible would refer to imagining the perfect solution to a problem. Freezing the problem relates to how we accommodate ourselves to the problem and/or solution. On the other hand, problem solving is not the only means of dealing with problems. Problems may be changed, made less serious. Others can be eliminated. Others still can be framed if there is not much time to deal with the problems.
My job is to outsource to India. However, I am still too far to my graduation. The dilemma I have at hand is that I will have to go back to work. This would mean that I would have less time for school, house chores, and even to my children. I might have a hard time handling all that being a single mom.
However, given the discussion about the topic, I believe that the problem can be reframed. With this approach, we can look at the bigger picture and ask what else we can do about it. With this chapter, I realized that there are more options for me to choose from. One possibility is to look for a roommate. I could also take a part time job that will give me enough time to cook at home. The gas price has increased so high that to stay at home to play with the kids by the pool may have a very harsh effect on our financial status.
Week Four: Polarizing and Alienation
According to the sources, Polarized means to accumulate opposing charges in two different regions. It is to divide into extreme opposites. It is also to a cause to concentrate on contrasting positions. On the other hand, alienation often associates with minorities. These minorities are the poor, unemployed, and other groups who have little or no power in promoting or creating certain changes in society.
I always tend to integrate values. There are many with valid points. So why polarize them? The reason behind this is that situations and peoples’ lives cannot be judged by black and white. I do not believe in people judging people. Instead, I believe in people who help people that ask for help to become a better individual.
Polarizing values make things clear. It also protects us. Our choices become easy, black or white. With this, polarizing people somehow establishes that people are either good or bad, which is not wise. This approach alienates people. Every side has a valid point. Simultaneously, every person has good inside, and we have to accept gray when we are talking about morals and the fellow man.
With this, we come into question why should people in general be moral? Or why should I be moral? The first question does not only regard a society. Ethics can be called a set of ethical standards. By this definition, it can be said that standards generally exists in groups. It is somehow a silent agreement on what is right and wrong. It puts every individual in equal footing. On the other hand, the second question regards how an individual does not need to depend on the group to know what is ethical or not. I should be moral not because of the standards that have been set for me. I should be moral because of my beliefs. To conform is to lose the essence of the self. The first statement is for the context of ethics in their culture. The second statement is about being a person as part of the group.
I once knew a student, call her Joan, who cheated her way through dental hygiene school. If she did not cheat, she probably would not have made it. For her, morality and self-interest were clearly at odds, and she chose self-interest. Explain whether Joan was correct in choosing self-interest, and explain whether you would want Joan to clean and X-ray your teeth? Be sure to tell why or why not.
Every time we chose in our favor we are choosing self-interest, the question is why are we doing it? It is because we just want to have more money to buy a new dress or because we are single moms with four kids and feeding them is not an option? To me morality change with the means: is it right to kill someone? What about if that someone wants to die because living is extremely painful? Is right to leave the person in pain? But since we are humans I believe that either side has their valid reasons. So which are Joan’s reasons?
Every time I go to the doctor, I give him the benefit of the doubt. How do I know that the doctor did not cheat through his education? Why treat Joan different? Yes, I will let her treat me. If she does it badly or she hurts me next time, she cannot pretend to be who she is not. No matter what she does, she still cheated to get to who she became.
Week Five: Open-Heartedness
To define the term open-hearted is to use other adjectives such as kind or generous. It also means being able to speak their minds and being candid about it. To relate myself to these words, I will have to share the part of my life that made the better portion of who I am today.
I am constantly hit by my parents, even for a towel left by my brother. I was sexually abused by my dad. My mother has a different perception of me after that one time when I told her that there was something wrong with dad. In her eyes, I have a dirty mind because I had impure thoughts about my “daddy”.
I often get hit. I had suppressed anger within me towards my mother. But being angry with them meant being hit more. I tried to avoid it. With this kind of experiences growing up, I became unable to say no to other people. If not, I experience extreme difficulty. Being unkind, I learned through my youth, is out of the question. It is still something I do not know how to do.
As a consequence, I became unrealistically open-hearted even if sometimes not so good people take advantage of my condition. It is not as if they take advantage of me. It is that I let them. In the end, it becomes my fault. Besides what happened to me, I strongly believe that every person should be kind and just treat the other person as you want to be treated.
To be close-hearted is to reject other possibilities as well as other opportunities. To be close-hearted is to stand on a one way road where there is no turning back and there is not stopping. Because other people are walking the same path, there is only one direction and one pace. It does not consider, but it simply takes one. It does not let other factors influence them. It is possible that these influences could do much harm. On the other hand, it can also do a person much good if he or she lets other people and things into their lives.
In contrast, open heartedness is to be accepting of other things and of other people. They let all the good and the bad in, and there decide what to do about the situations in their lives. It is allowing other factors to influence them for both the good and the bad. It is not closing doors but also opening them, along with the windows.
To choose to be close hearted is to walk on a tight rope. It can sway and shake one person off. But to be open-hearted is to walk on a sturdy plank where there is balance. Perhaps there will be problems as to how one crosses a plank. However, the path to walk on will not shake or shiver. It remains sturdy. There is balance. To have both good and bad is to find which aspects of reality may or may not involve themselves in one’s life.
Values, I think, may be objective or subjective. There are values that could be accepted across cultures. There are also some values that vary importance in the same set of cultures. For example, there is the value of marriage—a union of a two loving individuals. However, the other values regarding marriage such as equality, love and trust might not be the same for every culture. Since ethics is generally based on a culture, standards will be different. Norms and values will not always be the same.
Values do change over time. As a young person, I have been constantly exposed to pain, anger and hatred. However, as I grew up, I learned from these experiences. I learned how to trust and to love others. I learned how to have friends. I learned that pursuing my dreams was not a bad thing, and that I can actually reach them. That is called progress.
On the other hand, there is also another kind of change, and that is called a decline. There could be a decline on the values one sets their lives on. For example, one happy child may forever be ruined once traumatized by an event or situation. There are always changes because, as they say, “change is the only permanent thing in this world.”
Week Six: Presuppositions
According to the readings, Presuppositions are acts of supposing prior to having knowledge in relation to argumentation. It is about assuming before actually knowing the entire nature of the situation. In vague terms, it could mean that it is offering help assuming help is needed.
An ethical voice is who the person is. I am good to nature, and I take care of everybody that surrounds me. In my opinion, it is the value that you have that make you choose ethically. It is a little voice that tells you what to do and the feeling that comes after you do it.
The presupposition comes from logic, so how do you know if you are doing the right thing? Here it gets down to the way that you were raised and on what society and with what religion, in other words you are doing what you were told is right, what you learned is right, what society told you is right.
The things we learn become our ethical voice. Learning facts becomes a part of our conscience. As opposed to presupposing, finally knowing the reality of which revolves a focal point will help us choose wisely. That way, we can also tell that we learned something. That is the beauty of the human mind: it can learn a wide array of things. What is more beautiful is that man can apply what he or she has learned. Man is differentiated from animals because human live on with more than instinct. It has a different kind of intellect that raises him above all animals.
Week Seven: Euthanasia and Religion in Ethics
According to the readings, euthanasia can be considered as death without pain. In modern day, like in hospitals, it is called pulling the plug. It means taking a patient without brain activity and without the possibility of ever off life support. Other times, it is helping a person or animal to end the intense pain he or she is feeling.
Ethical concerns do seem to come into play at least in any and every religion with which I am the least bit familiar. But one does not need religion in order to practice ethics. No one needs to practice religion in order to help a kid who lost his mommy at the supermarket.
But to love others as God loves is to do such so empathetically, that the pain of others is as your own pain. How, precisely, can one be more ethical and kind than that? My own reasoning is we have the good and the bad inside us, we make the choice based on our religion or for just for ethical reasons. It was God who created the good concepts and asks us to follow them. Or did God ask us to follow the ethics concepts that were already there?
Who came first: the chicken or the egg?
Ethics is a branch of philosophy that studies the human conduct in relation to what is right or what is wrong. It is rationally investigating principles and truths of being, knowledge and conduct.
As I write this paper, I feel a certain fear as I uncover the past I hid along with all the pain and anger. Frustrations envelop me, making me hesitate whether I should pursue this or not. I know I would not be too happy about reliving the darkness of my past. There is also much confusion.
There is still much I do not know. But how would you write about it if you do not know what to write in the first place. It would be assuming too much. But sometimes, there are only presuppositions until one takes that step to know fully. For example, I do not know how to completely move on from the abuse. By sharing bits and pieces of my story through these journals is already a sign that there is a part of me that cannot let go. It could be a fear of having to be free when all these time I have been bound by the parents society told me I should love. But it is difficult. I imagine myself taking a next step, but I imagine there would only be air beneath my feet. I cannot look down just yet to find that there is indeed land there. How do you write about ethics when you are a survivor?
Ethics is the choices that I make, the reasons why I do it, and the manner of how I do it. These choices are also the factors that shape the being I am today. There are a lot of times when I feel bad when I recall the events that happened earlier in my life. But there are also times when I choose to forget or ignore what has happened.
That is because I have found a greater meaning. When I look at my own children, I realize that I am different from my parents. My kids are happy. When I think about it, perhaps they are happy because I love them, and that I make it a point that I would not be like my parents. I may not know how or what my parents were thinking. But I can tell that I was not happy with what they did to me. There is still a long way from forgiveness. I try to prove them wrong by showing my kids that I love them. They are my reasons now for living and for moving on.
But it is also more than that. It does not only involve the little circle I built and called family through these years. I also have a care and respect for the world. I have a care and respect for other people. I even go to church. I love going to work because my work involves helping other people. With that, I can say that helping people makes me feel alive. It gives me a broader perspective of the world and how I make all the sad and horrifying things that happened in my past go away and have them replaced with happier thoughts. I found reasons. More importantly, I found my purpose for moving on and continuing in living.
I grow up in a place where reality was distorted. I had to find another reality. I was molested by my father, and just 3 years ago by my own counselor. They took advantage of what I did not know. That is to have a normal life. To me then, abuse was normal.
But now, I am resolved to change all those sour memories. I would not let anyone touch my children. I am more than aware of what can happen. I still have issues with trust. I am not saying that I am crazy. Instead, I am saying that every day is still a constant battle to become normal. But I am improving. I am moving on. The lessons I have learned allowed me to realize this and so much more. I could just imagine if my parents took the same course.
The ethics that I know now taught me to know that the many awful things that happened to me were definitely wrong. Those ethics taught me to not question myself if I feel that something is wrong. Sometimes, I still feel that I can get hit because of it. But I believe that now I know better. That is because I am a survivor.
My life did not have an order. I used to act depending on the occasion and favorable results. My concept of values depends on the situations, values, as well as moral and ethics. I knew just the fundamentals of right or wrong concepts. Society taught me along the way. I learn all the good concepts: if I wanted a healthy family and healthy kids I had to do it and I had to be sure to practice them.
Polarizing values makes things clear and protect us. Our choices become as easy as black and white. Polarizing people make people good or bad, which is unwise. Every side has a valid point, every person has good side, and we have to accept gray when we are talking about morals and human beings.
Black and white sides are definitely clearer concepts. It is definitely less confusing. However, with human lives, there are no only two sides. When concerning the situation, values, morality, and, more importantly, the people, there will definitely be different shades of grays between black and white.
Morality is an everyday puzzle. I chose to go to church, so it keeps me up today. Sometimes it even makes me feel like I am a better person. When you grow up and your inner self constantly gets attacked, you tend to ask yourself questions like: it is safe to be moral all the time, is important, will someone take advantage? If I tell the true all the time, am I going to be safe? Are they lying, too? These are questions that I ask as I was growing up and trying to make sense of a nonsense reality.
Then when you grow up and left home to get marries, and then you go to church, they teach you that an abused relationship is not okay. You also find out that it is not wrong to feel afraid or lost. Church helps to expand your circle they teach you about morals and about God. The God I believe in gives me strength when I thought that nothing good can ever come out of my life.
Ethics is culture based. That culture involves religion. In my religion, I learned that I am a valuable individual and that it is important to follow good rules even if I feel scared. The church taught me that I do not have the control of the outcome. Instead, I just have control over making sound decisions. My religion does not rule over my life, it guides me. Ethics is about finding the difference between the good and the bad, and applying it to our lives to make it worth living.
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