One of the most difficult trials I face in my life are ethical and moral
dilemmas. They can be soul-wrenching and searching experiences that tax my
character and cause me to really “put my money where my mouth is.” Sometimes
I’m quick to see ethical faults in others, but slow to see them in myself.
Other times I see all to clearly my mistakes and wonder why I don’t measure up.
I believe one purpose for this life is to learn to act for ourselves.
see a situation correctly and act righteously. In this paper I wish to discuss
many of the thoughts I have had recently on setting a pattern for making ethical
decisions throughout my life. I will present many of the traps I have fallen
into or observed in others.
Everyday I’m faced with decisions of right and wrong, most of which are
easily and correctly dealt with. Sometimes however, decisions need to be made
that are not easy or clear-cut. They require thought and often prayer.
to draw on past experience to make comparisons that help give insight to new
problems. Many times, however past experiences cannot be related to present
problems and can confuse and obscure possibilities. Even the opinions or
actions of friends faced with similar dilemmas may not be helpful. Often you
feel pressured by piers that say, “it’s no big deal”, or “you’ll understand
later”. It’s important that I understand why a particular action or resolution
is correct or incorrect. If I can’t or don’t it’s difficult to feel I’ve been
honest with myself.
That for me can be a good measure of ethical behavior, my
The ideal way to deal with difficult questions is to have a foolproof
formula. Find steps that will always lead to correct decisions. Unfortunately
I do not yet have such a formula and often learn by hard experience right and
wrong. Let me start by saying I firmly believe the formula exists, and is to be
found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The only way to live a perfectly ethical
and moral life is to be Like Him.
There is no other way. The entire world will
experiment and try all other forms of self-indulgence and soul searching and
will not be one step closer until they begin with His gospel. I heard it said
once that “he who picks up one end of a stick, picks up the other end also.” No
matter how hard you try or want happiness, you cannot pick and choose values and
beliefs according to your tastes and wants. It really is all or nothing. That
is why I will discuss my formula in a gospel light, because any other way is a
waist of time.
I believe that in order to make correct and righteous decisions you must
first have proper perspective and motivation. The Apostle (???), said that “the
true character of a man can really be seen when he is alone and no one will
know.” Many people, myself included, are motivated by responsibility or
leadership. They ask, “what will my wife, or kids think?” or “what will my ward
think?”. These are good motivations and the mantle of responsibility can mold a
person, but they can also betray us and make decisions quite difficult. If you
rely on pressure to make decisions, what will you do when a decision is
unpopular, or when no one is looking?
Still others weigh consequences or outcomes to aid in decision making.
Rather than look at the question and judge it by it’s own merits, they want to
see who’s affected or what it would really cost. It’s like putting a price on
your character. If it’s small or doesn’t hurt anybody, than it won’t be a big
deal. We can “nickel and dime” our moral piggy bank to death. It’s the old,
“the ends justify the means.” Criminals aren’t made in a day.
Some of the most unethical and unjustifiable behavior I know of has come
out of our own political system. The very men who are responsible for making
our laws have little or no regard for them. They live under the philosophy that
“I’m an ethical person until I get caught…” and when their caught they exclaim
that their human.
Ethics has nothing to do with other people. It’s called
personal integrity and character and no one else will ever be my judge but me in
that regard. An ethical person has character and personal .