The Ethical Child (Part II)

I am back and you know… This second post was not as easy as I though it would be. I have spent the past few weeks vacationing with family, which included a memorial for my Father who himself was an incredibly ethical man.  During this incredible time with my family, laughing and reminiscing about days gone by, I came to the conclusion that there is no step by step way to create an ethical child. As a result I could not possibly create a blog post telling my readers how it is done, all I can do is give an opinion so here it goes.

As I alluded to in my first post, in the past people’s behaviour was driven by their ethics, not exclusively but for the most part their ethics were the foundation of peoples behavior. Today however, much of societies behavior is based on personal values. Somewhere along the line we (as in society) placed our values above all else and unfortunately, it seems that many of these values have grown to be self serving, materialistic and exploitive of  others.

What has happened as a result of this shift is that society justifies their unethical behaviour to meet their value system and the ethics are then changed to suit those values. Regardless whether a behaviour is right or wrong, if the behaviour is in line with the value, the ethic behind the behaviour is secondary.

In the end however, no matter how you rationalize your own behaviors:

  • If you always put yourself before others… That is unethical.
  • If you value material things above all else… That is unethical.
  • If you pursue wealth at the expense of others… That is unethical.
  • If you cheat lie and steal regardless of reason… That is unethical.
  • If you encourage others to do something that is unethical… That is unethical.
  • If you sacrifice family for your own personal gain or status… That is unethical.
  • If you abuse others, whether physically or psychologically… That is unethical.
  • If you turn a blind eye to the wrongs done by others to others… That is unethical.
  • If you ……………………

This list could go on forever but I think it illustrates the majority of issues we deal with in our society when we talk about ethics. It also speaks against popular culture’s bizarre notion of what living the good life is all about.

Whether we as parents are committing these unethical behaviors ourselves or complicity allowing our children to follow a pop culture inspired lifestyle, it all boils down to what we model and expect from our children. Ethics are learned, they are not a genetic trait or acquired from a book. They are gained from our life experience and whether you like it or not that is a parents responsibility for your child’s formative years.

I can only hope I am a fraction of the ethical man my father was and perhaps my children will escape the ethical dilemmas faced by modern society. Right and wrong is not all that difficult to determine as long as you can distinguish between selfishness and selflessness.

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