Here is where you find my definition of personal ethics. A baby is not born with the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. We are groomed from infancy to understand the difference between the two and our parents are responsible for doing so. They are our first teachers in life and that initial influence will reach every person we come into contact with throughout our lives. To me, it is only when we are released from the shelter of our upbringing that our true moral code is constructed and put on display.
People are always watching. This may sound a little cliché, but we are constantly under observation. The parameters of an “ethical” person cannot be measured; rather they are unique to the individual. Thus, our decisions in every situation serve as a lesson to others, exclusive to the scenario we face. In one of my past internships, an employee for the company I worked for was fired for having pornography on his company-issued computer. Obviously, this was not a great display of his personal ethics and he would more appropriately be described as stupid rather than unethical. He undoubtedly had ethical foundations similar to everyone else, but when he put his desires in front of what he knew was wrong, his moral code was compromised. It’s these situations that show us the extent of the ethical boundaries of an individual, and hopefully these types of stories have an influence on our own construction of the moral code.
Sometimes the best answers to questions present themselves when we stop looking for them. We cannot define ethics. There exists no universal model for what strong personal ethics should be. We all learn by observing the consequences, good or bad, of other people’s choices.
An old man walks into a grocery store. You watch him initiate a very unpleasant encounter with the cashier. On his way out, he drops a fair amount of money, unnoticed. The cashier and yourself are the sole audience of this. You then watch the