Ethical Behavior in a Chaotic World

“The moral values, ethical codes and laws that guide our choices in normal times are, if anything, even more important to help us navigate the confusing and disorienting time of a disaster.”

Sheri Fink, Pulitzer prize winner

Watching the news, reading about Fortune 500 companies that disregard the public trust, politicians that cannot get anything accomplished except destroying their counterparts, countries poised to fire long-range missiles into other countries’ territories, stock markets that keep rising on the back of world central banks printing every more money to keep a false narrative alive seem normal any more.  It’s not! Yes, what is up seems down.  Sometimes good old common sense is lost in decision-making.  The world seems to be upside down.  Whether you are at work, church or your home it just seems we can not escape the fact that the world is a chaotic place these days.  During these times it is easy to lose our bearings.  We become adrift in the popular social river of accepting anything so we go along with the group and do not feel left out.  We can even lose our moral values and ethical codes while ignoring the laws that govern our behavior.  At the end of a day or a week, we look back with regret for not staying true to our beliefs because our consciences begin to stir.

Here are some key things to remember as you navigate the chaos we currently have to face each day.  The list is easy to remember but hard to live.  I suggest you refer to it often.  It will help you when you are facing difficult questions and your conscience starts to speak to you.

  • Just because it is popular today does not mean it is right.  The old adage that we all heard as kids and then passed on rings true when you say to yourself, “Well, EVERYONE is doing it” just remember “If everyone jumps off the bridge, would you too?”. Have you ever heard anyone say, “now there was a good riot!”  When everyone starts yelling and screaming about a certain issue or law, step back from the crowd so you can examine the facts and do the right thing not the popular thing.
  • At all times, follow the law of the land.  If you have rules of behavior in your family, follow them.  We all have governmental laws to follow and, at work, there are policies and procedures that apply.  Ethical behavior does not include ignoring the rules, laws and policies and procedures just because you do not like them.  You follow them and if you do not agree with them then you work to try to change them.  This is one of the reasons we have chaos today in the world.  Many people including world leaders have just decided they do not like the rules so they are just going to ignore them.  They focus on themselves instead of the greater good for all of us.  If you set a curfew for your kids to be home by a certain time and they ignore the curfew just because they think it is dumb, are there consequences?  There should be!  We are part of a organizations, governments and families.  Ethical behavior respects the rule of law.
  • Convenience is a temptation to lose your way on your path.  Quick fixes, quick riches, quick pain relief, quick promotions and easy answers, easy excuses, easy money, easy life usually lead to long-term and sometimes irreparable problems.  Quick and easy might be good at the grocery store.  It’s not in life.  Ethical behavior looks at the long-term benefits and is not afraid of the work involved in reaching those milestones that establish legacies.
  • Have you ever heard these quotes?  “It’s Okay because no one will see me.”  It’s Okay because I will put it back later.”  “What goes on, on the road, stays on the road.”  “Nobody will know but me and you.”  Behaving ethically means living a life that you are not fearful of someone writing about your escapades on the front page of the newspaper or having a picture or video show up on social media.  Cover up, lies, stories just eat at you later and one untruth leads to another.
  • If it is too complicated to understand…. walk away.  In our chaotic world we seem to overcomplicate the simple.  How many weather apps do you have on your smart phone?  How often are they right?  Ethical and moral behavior is not complicated.  It is simple.  If someone is overcomplicating the issue before you with bells, whistles and “interpretations”, step back, take a deep breath and search for just good old fashion common sense.  Go back to the basics. Look at the picture above.  Now that is a common sense weather app! And you never miss…..

In a world where cutting corners, gaming the system, disregarding policies, taking the short cuts to get ahead seem to be more popular than ever….. don’t do it!  Live your life without regret.  Live your life ethically.  After all, you have to get up in the morning and look at yourself every day as you shave or put on your make up.  Who do you want to see each day?

Until next time…. Peace. 🙂