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#91 What is right?



What is right? In what situation? Is rightness fluid and temporal or constant and rigid? Upon what is rightness based? How is it made visible in our lives?


To understand this topic more clearly, I did what I always do, I ran to the internet for an extended research session.


I searched morals, ethics, and values.


Morals: concerned with principles of right and wrong and the goodness or badness of human character. It involves holding or manifesting lofty standards for proper conduct. Morality is a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do. Conforming to standards of what is right to do and is virtuous, noble, and righteous.


Ethics: moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity. The moral correctness of specified conduct. It is also a branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles. A set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct.


Essentially, morals are a person’s internal code of conduct, what is right and wrong, or good and bad. Ethics is a code of moral conduct established by an authority, or within a group or profession.





While this seems clear cut, it can generate some interesting conversations. An entire field of philosophy called metaphysics is devoted to ethical conundrums and the idea of Socrates’s exploration of “what is pious?”


If ethics are based on moral principles, upon what do we base our morals?


Morals are based on our values. Values are individual beliefs that motivate people to act in one way or another. An internet search on values will return a quicksand pit of different values and topics from autonomy, community, creativity, justice, and so forth.


How do we create our values?


Our values are created partially by our reactions to our experiences and subsequently help to form our beliefs.


For example.


Didn’t make the baseball team?


One reaction could be that the coach is a dick, he just likes the other guys better, their daddies must’ve paid money to encourage the coach to pick them, those guys are brainless jocks, or that life in general is just unfair and people suck. I’ll never be good enough. I’ll just give up and sit in the back of the class and brood. Another reaction could be that I didn’t really play much before now, I haven’t acquired the necessary skillset required to make the team. I might not have physically matured to the point that I am strong enough to hit and throw harder and run faster. Perhaps if I apply myself to training for this field, learning all I can about different plays and strategies, attend a few ball camps, practice with more talented players, and hit the weights, I could make the team next year. Or perhaps I’m just really not as good as the other boys and I should pursue another avenue of fulfillment altogether, such as football or soccer, or golf. Or even chess, art, music, or acting.


Three different reactions, three different outcomes. Also, three different values based on beliefs. These then can drive our moral compass.


Let’s explore this for a minute.


As a policeman, I swore to uphold the ethics of my profession. I declared before God, the City, and the community that I would act morally and honorably. The profession set forth a series of ethics that determined the rules of right and wrong. Yet in some other countries the police are not ethical or moral at all. A friend of mine from India once told me that police will stop you while driving just to get their handful of cash and send you on your way. We were trained at the police department that when we conduct a felony stop (where we empty the violator’s car of occupants due to extremely perilous circumstances that could escalate to dangerous conclusions) that we instruct the occupants to exit the vehicle one at a time and walk backward to us, then kneel on the ground and we could cuff them until our investigation was complete. We were told to be cautious regarding people from central or south America because being told to kneel on the ground is the command given by police in their countries just before they are executed in the street.


In America, we love our dogs and cats. They are a part of the family. Yet in China, they have holidays which celebrate eating dogs and cats by the millions. It has become a running joke in America that Chinese restaurants cook cats.


Some tribes of people in Africa and South America eat people.


American politicians swear to uphold the Constitution and represent the constituents who elected them to office. Do I really have to get in to what they are doing in office now? It matters not which side of the aisle they sit, they are all working for their own benefit, not ours. You have to wonder why someone would spend 3-8 million dollars to apply for a job which only pays $174k. Then after two terms in office they are worth $10M.


Morals are personal attitudes regarding right and wrong, and ethics are a system of morals determined by a group, field, profession, or culture.


What happens when morals and ethics collide?


A doctor takes an oath to “do no harm” and then uses all means necessary to extend life beyond its natural limits, despite the welfare of the patient. Is the extension of life by means of life support really living? If he assists that person to die peacefully, ending their suffering, are they violating their morals or their ethics?


A doctor is moral when he performs a surgery that may save a life or end pain, but is it ethical if it corrects another doctor’s mistake or performs the surgery before the patient has agreed to pay for the previous surgery?


If a policeman needs to arrest a woman and she hits him several times before he begins to try to cuff her, and then reaches for a blunt object with which to cause him harm, is he violating his morals or his ethics should he hit her?


If a politician accepts election campaign money from Big Pharma, and then they later need a bill passed that will benefit their business or industry, is he violating his ethics or morals should he vote the bill to law?


There is a cartoon that floats around social media periodically. It depicts a person faced with the dilemma of manning a train track switch. On one set of tracks, 5 people are tied to the rails. On the other track, one person is tied to the rails. The man must decide which way to switch the tracks.





A similar dilemma was offered as a criminal law exercise in the police academy. A man jumps from the 40th floor. He falls past the 30th floor, where a couple is having a violent fight. She had previously loaded his handgun in preparation for this violence and had intended to kill her husband. He grabs the pistol first, thinking it is still unloaded. He plans to point the gun at his wife to stop the fighting. In the heat of the argument, he shoots at her. As he fires, the wife, knowing that the pistol is loaded, moves out of the way. The bullet goes out the window and strikes the man falling to his death. Who is charged with what crime?


OK I admit, I used to play Dungeons and Dragons. I still do on occasion, when my schedule allows. When building your character (no pun intended) you can assign one of nine variables called alignment. Alignment determines how your player character will behave in any situation. It is a Punnett Square type device with law and chaos on one side and good and evil on the other. Where they intersect is one of nine alignments. It assists in game play, and it allows a player to behave in a way not truly indicative to the players own morals.





Our attitudes forge our beliefs. Our beliefs fertilize our values. Our values manifest our morals. Our morals result in our behavior. Our behavior, based on our morals, determined by our values, generated by our beliefs, and created by our attitudes, determines our ethics.

In massage school, we had a class in ethics. The tests I took to get my license and board certification were largely based on ethical behavior in our profession.


In police training, we were continuously trained and tested on ethical behavior.

Honestly, these are accepted norms of behavior expected by those who practice these professions.


I truly believe that if your moral compass is not set in the right direction, no amount of ethical training will be enough to guarantee right behavior.


The way we react to our circumstances, situations, and events can determine our attitudes, beliefs, values, and consequently, our morals.


Our morals often determine how we behave in any future situation. Morals define your character. Character is how you behave when you think no one is watching. Character the outward expression of your morals.


Morals is how you expect yourself to behave in any situation. Ethics is how a group of people expect you to behave in nearly every situation.


I believe (beliefs again) that if we maintain a lofty set of morals, we need never worry about what ethics a group, profession, or society demands of us. We will always do what is right.

 

 

 


Do well, my friend,

 


Weeg

 

 

Joe “Weeg” Weigant is a Board-Certified Massage Therapist, Holistic Health Authority, Reiki Master Teacher, Herbalist, Metaphysician, and Empowerment Coach. He combines bodywork, energy work, and coaching to improve quality of life by healing from the outside in and from the inside out.

Weeg sells Nature’s Sunshine Products, Pure Herbs Ltd., doTERRA, and Juice Plus+. Weeg suggests lifestyle changes and provides herbal remedies to his clients so they may build new habits for long life and vibrant health. He teaches Karate and Tai Chi, Reiki Certification, as well as seminars and workshops in metaphysical and spiritual matters. Weeg is available for sessions at Tri State Holistic Wellness by appointment only.

 

Contact by text 812.568.5356, or Facebook Messenger to set an appointment.

 

 

 

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