Saturday, August 2, 2014

The hills on which you are prepared to die

I've been thinking much of late about the relationship between opinion, judgement, ethics, compromise, consensus and moral bankruptcy. These thinks have been thunk across several different vectors of my life - I am, after all, a worker, a parent, a volunteer and a citizen, all of which roles provide plentiful opportunities to discover and rediscover where boundaries might lie. It's fair to say that for me, the sticking point is rather like that famous definition of pornography - I might not be able to tell you in the abstract exactly what it is, but I sure know it when I see it.

By this I mean that while opinions will always differ, and mine will not and should not prevail in many cases, there is a line between accepting an unpalatable decision that is the will of the group or the authority figure, and acquiescing to decisions that violate your personal or professional ethics in some fundamental way. It's the difference between doing something that you think is inefficient or suboptimal (but still perfectly acceptable ethically) and doing something that you genuinely believe to be inappropriate, immoral or unprofessional simply because the group, or your leader, has willed it so.

I do not believe that a person is absolved of their personal ethical responsibility simply because a group decision contradicts it, especially when the consequences of taking a stand are not deadly, devastating or personally threatening (I acknowledge, of course, that this equation is a much harder one in conflict and wartime, or for people with severely limited options who are reliant on the job or activity for basic needs). I have always known that there are hills on which I am prepared to die - issues over which I would withdraw my participation altogether rather than be party to. There have been times when this has come at not inconsiderable personal and financial cost to me, but I really don't want to imagine a life in which I failed to make these stands and then had to live with the knowledge of what I had silently allowed to pass.

*It is important for me to state that nothing in this post directly relates to any current situations in my life, but rather is a theme that has played out several times over the past 25 years and that I expect will no doubt occur again, given the plenitude of my entanglements!

No comments:

Post a Comment