Ethics and morals are terms that are usually used to relate to and describe human behaviours. Ethics is usually defined as the set of rules or principles that guide the actions of a particular group. In simpler terms, ethics usually means what is right or wrong for a group. On the other hand, morals can be defines as principles that tells an “individual” what is right or wrong and relates to personal character. Although, different people in one society may have similar ethics they may still be different from one another by them each having their own “unique” sets of morals. Morals are principles that can usually come from many different sources like religion, culture, traditions, and experiences.
Personally, I am like everybody else and have my own set of “morals” that are unique from everyone else.My set of morals is unique because like everyone else they come from many different “roots”. My morals mainly come from one source despite it having many different roots. That one source where the majority of my morals come from would be home and more specifically my parents. My mother and father both greatly impacted the morals I have today and they both individually have their own unique sets of morals. To begin with, my father and the family he was raised up in was a Christian one and my father himself is a devout Christian.Every Sunday, my father would bring me to church and Sunday school as a young child. Through church, I became acquainted with the moral philosophy of “divine command”.
In Sunday school, I learned about the Ten Commandments and my very first morals of what is right and what is wrong. I learned that I should always honour my parents, never steal and murder, and always love God. At the same time, I always learned about the awards of “heaven” for following those rules and the “punishments” of hell for not. Being a child, those simple morals, seemed simple to follow although they were not the only ones.On the other hand, my mother and her morals also played a big part in influencing the morals I have today. My mother unlike my father is non-religious and provided me with a different set of morals.
My mother experienced “poverty” first hand when she first arrived in Canada, and the aid of “charities” and “strangers” at the time greatly helped her and her family. The result of that help, made my mother take an “altruistic” principle towards life and become a “selfless” being. My mother would constantly give to charities and put others like her children and friends in front of herself.Through my mother, I learned that I should never “selfish” and that I should follow “The Golden Rule”. The Golden Rule is that I should always treat others the way I wanted to be treated in return. I personally experienced the “golden rule” when I was in kindergarten during show and tell.
I remember bringing a new toy to one of the show and tell and I remember not letting any touch it since I was afraid the others would break it. In return, when others brought in their toys they also returned the favour and didn’t let me play with their toys. Following that incidence, I learned the importance of the morals that I learned through church and my mother.
Those simple morals also helped guide me successfully throughout my childhood and I didn’t really think much about them.The sets of morals I have today took a significant turn and became much more complex when I was in grade 8. The change in my morals I would say was in a sense indirectly related to “education”. The change in my morals came in grade 8 when I had to do a class debates in social studies on two types of Chinese philosophy “Confucianism and Legalism”. In that debate, I was assigned to debate about “legalism” which is a philosophy that states that all humans are corrupt to start with. Being more detached from religion, that debate became a kind of a self realization moment. It made me ponder the fact that do I follow all my morals because I was “selfish” and only did it for my own personal benefits. Thinking about that made me reflect on some of my prior actions and in a sense it really did sort of make sense.
One of those prior actions would be a time when I broke my father’s laptop and lied to him that I did not do it. I realized that I sinned and lied to him about the keyboard because I was afraid of being punished and therefore acted for my own personal benefit. Furthermore, I also thought about the rewards of “heaven” which I learned as a child and wondered if that was driving me to follow certain morals and is that just me being “selfish”.
On top of that, this theory of “rational egoism” also can be related to many examples in the real world. One of those examples would be one that we talked about in class and that example would be the Andes plane crash incident. In that incident, the survivors were consciously aware that it is absolutely morally incorrect to commit cannibalism. But in the end, they committed cannibalism because they were hardwired for “survival” and ultimately for their own benefits.
A more recent example I believe that reflects the characteristics of “rational egoism” would be the recent Costa Concordia cruise ship incident. In that incident, there were reports of different passengers fighting for space on lifeboats (bribing) just for the sense of “self benefit”. More notoriously, there is also the incident about the captain Schettino abandoning the ship before all the passengers were off and make an excuse all about it just for his own benefitAlthough, I am convinced by rational egoism and my morals today are influenced by it in certain ways. I must admit that I still retain the other morals I learned before hand like my “altruistic” morals. An example of this would be times when I see ads on TV asking for donations or walking the streets of downtown and seeing the homeless on the streets. During those times, I would be driven by emotions and just try to “help” without thinking would those actions benefit me or not.
All in all, I am a person whose repertoire of morals is not concrete and those morals can be added upon and tweaked which can be good and bad. Whether it is, believing in religion again or adopting a new culture further down my life journey. My morals being open to change would allow me to adapt to any of those changes in life and make me a better person.