Personal Ethics

Why have them

Why should we worry about ethics?  What are personal ethics? Should you be concerned about your personal ethics?
These are all questions that go through my mind when someone asks me a question about this subject.  This all started when a very good friend asked me about a speeding ticket.  Her question was – Would I pay a speeding ticket that I got in the mail from a camera enforcement unit?  My answer to that question was, and still is, yes.  There are several reasons why I would, that revolves around the subject of personal ethics.
There are many people in the world that try to find an excuse to not take personal responsibility for the things that they do.  I feel that this is one of them. They will tell you how it is unfair to have a camera take a picture of them doing something wrong, they will tell you that they may have had mitigating circumstances that they could have explained to a police officer, they will tell you how they are having their rights violated by not being able to confront their accusers, they will tell you that it is all a scheme to make money for the city,county, or state.  What they won’t tell you is that they were speeding and were guilty of what the camera caught them doing. In essence it is the small child that has gotten caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they come up with the most creative excuse that they can to explain why they are innocent.
Let me give you a personal example.  I used to drive a Chevy van that didn’t run well and was an eyesore.  I worked at a very physically demanding job and I was extremely tired when I got home from work. I would pull up in front of the house pointing the nose of the van toward oncoming traffic, I didn’t think anything of it as my neighbors did the same thing.  One day I came out to go to work and there on my windshield was a ticket. It was for parking the wrong direction on the street.  Unbeknownst to me there is a law in our community that you can’t park facing the wrong direction on the street. Now I could have gotten angry, I could have fought the ticket, I could have complained that my neighbors didn’t get a ticket, instead I went to the courthouse and paid the ticket.  I was in the wrong even though I didn’t know it.  I had been taught that ignorance of the law is no excuse.  Just so you know the lady that took the money from me was shocked that I didn’t put up a fight, no one had ever done that before.

Admit it and move on

Personal ethics are what you do when no one else is around to see.  Do you sit at a traffic light at 3:45 in the morning when there are no cars and no cops around?  Do you stay at the office till quitting time if the boss has left early?  Do you follow the rules of a game even though you are playing against yourself?
What level of personal integrity do you have?  In this case do you admit that you were speeding and pay your fine even though you were caught by a camera? or do you rail against the world for the system being unfair and your rights being violated?  This is the thing that only you can answer, the fundamental question here is, were you speeding?  Not how you got caught, but were you violating the law in the first place?  I am harkened back to the 1980’s when drug testing was first introduced.  I smoked pot, I admit that freely, I quit a long time ago now but at the time I was still using.  I asked many people why they felt that drug testing was allowable, I mean isn’t that saying that I had to prove my innocence?  Weren’t they assuming that I used drugs and that I had to prove to them that i wasn’t.  I was that child with their hand in the cookie jar, looking for ways to get away from the fact that I used pot.  I was told that it would make the work place safer, and that our insurance rates would go down; saving the company money. I was told, and this is the important thing, that if I didn’t use drugs I didn’t have any thing to worry about.  The same applies to this particular situation, if you are not speeding then you don’t have to worry about a camera taking your picture.  You don’t have to worry about getting a ticket in the mail.

What if?.

So the next argument that people say to me is; what if I wasn’t driving? Why should I be punished for something that someone else does?  Now this is where it gets sticky. Is the person who the car belongs to responsible for the person that is driving it? Is the person that owns a gun responsible for the person using the gun?  Did you allow that person to drive your car, did you tell them that they would be responsible for any tickets or violations that the incur? I know that this is a hard one, even for me. I am all for personal responsibility, but where do we draw the line?  if we could take a picture of the driver and the license plate, that would solve the problem. Without that vital piece of information it leaves the automatic out of “I wasn’t driving my car at that time” excuse.  At the same time it would be well within the courts right to ask who was driving so that they could pay the ticket.  Do you then rat out your friend? Back to the original point though if they weren’t speeding there wouldn’t be an issue right? I wrote an earlier blog about Speed one of the things I talked about was what are we teaching our youth.  This begs the same question. What are we teaching our young people about ethics? What are we teaching them about integrity?  What laws do we obey even though we may not agree with them?

So here is my final question:  Do you wait at the traffic light at 3:45 in the morning with no cars and no cops around?  I do…..

About Lee Devine

I love life. I am a program facilitator at the Dixie Applied Technology College in St. George Utah. I can't think of anything I want to do more than help people succeed at education.
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2 Responses to Personal Ethics

  1. renxkyoko says:

    Do i wait for the traffic light at 3″45 AM > A resounding YES!!!! It’s just a one minute wait, for crying out loud… with just one minute of wait, we won’t feel guilty, or get nervous that a cop is nearby or a camera took a shot …… and the bottomline is, it;s the right thing to do. Just follow the rules…. it’s easier on us. besides, rules were written for very legitimate reasons, not on a whim.

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