This may come as a shock to you, but I do not make a living as an author.
In fact, right now, the income from the sale of my books is right at the point where it buys my gas, treats me to the occasional night out, and is a minor nuisance at tax time. Which means I am forced to work a full time job in order to maintain my extravagant lifestyle.
I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s only a matter of time, and I’m patient, but that’s not what I’d like to talk about today.
My thoughts today are related to the aforementioned day job.
As part of my job I am required to attend mandatory training sessions every now and then. In my case most are job specific, but some are more generic. Case in point, about three years ago every employee in the organization was required to attend active shooter training – where we were taught what to do (and not do) should a gunman go on a rampage in our building. It was quite eye opening, as well as a sad commentary on the evolution (or lack thereof) of our society.
My most recent training session was entitled “Ethics in the Workplace” and it was taught by a “business ethics expert.”
Ethics are defined as the moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity.
I find the use of the word moral in the definition interesting, because ethics and morals, although often interchanged, are not the same thing.
A more in depth investigation tells us that ethics are “rules provided by an external source, e.g., codes of conduct in workplaces or principles in religions,” while morals refer to “an individual’s own principles regarding right and wrong.”
I learned an easy way to differentiate between them from the TV show NCIS, where medical examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard explains it this way;
An ethical man knows it is wrong to cheat on his wife, a moral man just wouldn’t do it.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really jazzed about having to spend four hours listening to somebody lecture me about ethics since I like to consider myself a fairly ethical (and moral) person. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, the training was mandatory so…
Contrary to my expectations, the class was not only informative, but also entertaining.
The speaker, let’s call him Bill, shared dozens of stories to illustrate how all choices, regardless of intention, come with consequences – a topic I related to quite easily since several of my books address that very concept. In addition, he illustrated how easy it can be for a person to cross the line from the ethical to the unethical.
There was, however, one anecdote he shared that didn’t sit well with me, and I still question how it relates to ethics.
The short version of the story is this;
While enjoying a night out with three friends, two male and one female, Bill and his party returned to Bill’s car where he proceeded to open the car door for the woman. She took offense to this and let him know she was perfectly capable of doing it herself. Her issue was this; regardless of his intentions and inbred gentleman’s instincts, he had “taken away her power” by insinuating that she needed special treatment. Basically, he was being a sexist.
What a load of fertilizer.
For the record – I support women’s rights completely. And as I stated earlier, I feel that my moral compass is pretty strong, and I definitely do not see myself as a sexist. So much so that I refuse to patronize Hooters restaurants (and their ilk) because of their corporate policy of objectifying women.
I also consider myself a decent human being – therefore, I would open the door for another person…man, woman, child, black, white, gay, straight, bi, trans, Jew, gentile, democrat, republican or vegan.
Not only is it the sort of thing my mother taught me to do – it’s also common courtesy and politeness.
Here’s what’s sad…the active shooter training, while graphic and frightening, didn’t really shock me. Learning that I was violating somebody’s rights by opening a door for them did.
Are we really getting to the point where, in order to be ethical I have to violate my own morals?
I don’t know how we arrived in this back alley of The Twilight Zone,
but here we are. If you try to be nice, you’re still doing something wrong.
Talk about a no-win situation…double-edged sword…a slippery slope.
Pick your metaphor – it all comes down to the same thing – somewhere along the way things got out of hand. We became more concerned with being legal than being good.
I’m sure there are some who may take offense to my position here.
If you think I’m a bad person, or that I’m violating some ethical code because I held the door for you, it’s you who has the problem, because when society takes a dim view of being nice to each other – anything that follows can’t be good.
As always – thank you for reading