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25 August 2010

Ethics - What Is It?

We say that we think a lot. We say that we are taking decisions after deliberation. We say that we are trying to be ethical without knowing what is ethics, why one needs to be ethical, what is an extent to which one can be ethical. We prove time and again that we talk about ethics when our survival is not under question and the ethics takes a back seat when our survival is under question. This is one of the reasons why we have business cycles, recessions, depressions (both economic and psychological) etc. A specific economic indicators like dropping housing market is not the cause for recession. But the indicators, as the name implies, indicates a systemic failure and one of the reasons is lack of ethics.

Here are the points that comes to my mind when I think about ethics (why am i thinking about ethics now is another big question). Well, I haven't proven it yet and hence all the points can be debated to bring in more clarity.

I have been trying to understand what is ethics by observing people. The first mistake I did is trying to copy ethics from others. If i try to copy from others, my ethics is very subjective. After watching many people, friends and thinking about how I lead life so far, I feel that ethics is a framework. The framework is quite flexible and one can draw his/her own boundaries. Ethics is set of standards that is beyond law and society. It is quite difficult to measure ethics and hence no one can certify you that you are ethical. It is unique to each one of us. Ethics is personal, you can customize it and you can keep customizing it.

Ethics is awareness and introspection. While ethics is personal, if you violate the boundary, you have to pay the price (either your conscience hurts you or you will be in a situation in which you ought to pay the price and that boils down to experience). Ethics is awareness and looking inwards. Ethics is a system. A best possible self correcting system.

Mahatma Gandhi has a very high ethics. If one reads, "My experiments with Truth", it is quite visible that Mahatma Gandhi was not the same in his early days. He needed a street play to ignite his passion. How he reached there? How a thief turned himself to a saint Valmiki? Ethics is all about life experiences and daily introspection. Quite often, we need to do the introspection to make the framework of ethics wider and bigger, more meaningful and more sensible. I feel that this is central premise of building ethics (If you believe Hindu mythology, you would question how can thief be a saint. We have been told that we will be punished when we committed a sin and we are less told about introspection and awareness that occur due to punishment. If one can introspect, the punishment can be avoided. Actually, it is the introspection and awareness which can nullify the Karma). Clever people expand their ethics. Every day, they become more ethical. Ethics is ever expanding/evolving entity, it has no boundary. But one sure thing is that it can be made better every day even when you are in death bed.

You walk on the road and suddenly fall down. You expect that someone will lift you and help you. To your disappointment, you find no helping hands. The next day, you walk in the same street but this time you are very careful of the small pit that made you fall down yesterday. Near by the same place, you find an old woman asking your help to cross the road. It is the same road you traveled yesterday. Out of joy, you help the grandma to cross the street so as to make this world a better place. You prove that human beings evolve. Ethics is something you do (with joy) irrespective what is been done to you.

Have a Super Day.

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