The needs of society determine its ethics. – Maya Angelou
I read this quote online and it got me thinking. What are ethics? My helpful Encarta dictionary defines ethics as a system of moral principles governing the appropriate conduct for a person or group. What the legendary Maya Angelou said is this; what you, me and the world need decides how we behave. No statement has been this right to me in a while.
In the world of work, we find so many companies and executives becoming overly competitive and almost dishonorable. Literally fighting for jobs, going behind company policies and starting company resourced private firms. What do they need? They need to climb up the corporate ladder, they need more clients and ultimately more money hence they have become ruthless, lawless and wicked…very unethical
In the world of education, we see students become so selfish, researching and hiding their findings. Working on projects in secret and refusing to discuss what they have privately learned. Students are finding new ideas and refusing to share them for an even greater perspective. The system is forcing students to be irrationally competitive and self-centered. What do they need? They need to get ahead in class, they need to be 1st or be one of the very few honor students. They need to be feared in class and respected by mates. They need the promised gifts of academic excellence and they need the intellectual popularity hence they have become selfish, greedy, crafty and mean…very unethical
In today’s world of financial recession, we see more robbery in the streets, in the office and elsewhere. The most unsuspecting of characters are becoming so juvenile and unpredictable. There is not much motive for murder except an impediment to one’s acquisition of money and not much reasoning behind the action of theft. What do the people need? Money to eat, to afford a place to sleep, to finance a child’s education, to bail out a buddy, to pay an inflated medical bill or to calm the action of a creditor hence people have become rebellious, angry, violent, dangerous and callous.
So today I ask, must what we need, what we feel we are deprived of, drive us to the lengths of unethical behavior? Must our needs make us less human and more fearful? Must our needs nurture an unsafe world to the point where we ourselves are uncomfortable? What are your needs and what are they making of you?