What is the most important ethical value in our lives?
'O' level student-inmate from institution TM1
Ethics can be defined as moral principles that control or influence a person’s behaviour and in turn motivate them to act in one way or another. Couple it with values and you get an individual who expresses a willingness to do only the right thing despite the difficulty in performing the morally right act. Therefore, a person is said to be ethical if he or she possesses moral values.
Ethical values protect and respect life. Not only the life of one’s self but the life of everyone around. In my opinion, one of the most important core ethical values in our society today is honesty. Honesty is the foundation where trust is built on and it acts as a moral compass that guides us to making the right decisions. If people were to lack honesty, relationships between humans would definitely suffer from unscrupulous ways such as lying, cheating and stealing, just to name a few.
The act of being honest may not always seem to be like an easy task. As the old adage goes, “ the truth always hurts”. Sometimes, the truth may result in us having to do things we might be uncomfortable with such as owning up to a mistake which would result in serious ramifications to ourselves, having to come clean with someone you hold dear in your life even when it means that the relationship may be strained or destroyed in the process or even having a lucrative business deal which could have earned you millions of dollars denied you. It is during these times, when the weight of self interest beats down on us like a one ton boulder that it truly tests our resolve in whether we are able to uphold the ethical values we believe in.
A valuable lesson honesty has taught me is vividly etched in my mind. It still feels surreal every time I recount it. I was born into an underprivileged family and just to survive each day, we literally scrap for means. I used to curse my lot in life, envying others for their luxuries which I had never experienced. One day, I was walking home when I spotted something glinting on the pavement from the corner of my eyes. Like cold hands to a fire, I approached it and picked it up only to discover that it was a diamond encrusted ring. I was elated as the first thought coming into my head was how much I could fetch for it if I were to pawn it. As I continued walking counting by sheer luck, I saw a worried looking woman who was frantically searching for something. My senses told me that it was the ring I’ve found. My conscience gnawed at me at that moment and I decided to return the ring. It turns out it was a valuable family heirloom and I was rewarded with more money than I could have ever fetched for the ring. Honesty literally pays!
All in all, every ethical value functions to enhance the quality of life. It is either we embrace or turn away from it.