Category : Student Essays

LESA RAE WATERER’S FIRST PLACE ETHICS ESSAY

What Does Being Ethical Mean To Me? 

Across the world, millions of people suffer injustices caused by unethical practices every day. They are treated poorly, tricked into unfair contracts, robbed of their humanity, blackmailed into submission, and hurt in countless other ways as those in power institute practices that take advantage of the weak and vulnerable. Such practices degrade society and the human race as a whole. In order to counter that degradation, it is necessary to fully understand what it is to “be ethical.”

First and foremost, ethicality involves treating others with respect. This includes acknowledging their humanity and treating them as equals. To do this, we must constantly be mindful how our behavior will impact those around us, even during activities as everyday as walking down the street or driving to work. It can be all too easy to allow our emotions, such as road rage, to take control, but in order to be truly ethical we need to fully accept that other people’s lives and opinions matter. We must let go of the erroneous belief that we are any more important than the rest of mankind. Not only does this apply to those immediately at hand, but also to those who, though removed from sight, will be just as affected by one’s actions. Privileged members of a society in particular must consider how their policies will affect the poor, homeless, and otherwise disadvantaged members of the population.

If we truly desire to be ethical, then we cannot stand by and do nothing once aware of unethical practices. We must rise up and speak out against them. British statesman Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing,” and this is especially true when it comes to ethicality. People willing to do whatever it takes to obtain power, earn a profit, or otherwise further their own selfish interests will always be present in society. It is the same with people who mean well, yet whose efforts unintentionally cause harm. If no one steps in to stop unethical practices enacted by either source, those practices will continue to be used until they become widely accepted. This is why ethical people cannot afford to stand by and watch. If they were to do so, they would allow the very ethicality they claim to represent to dwindle into insignificance.

Interwoven with being morally upstanding is integrity, the quality of sticking to one’s moral code in every circumstance. Being ethical means nothing if one does not choose to adhere to and advocate it no matter how inconvenient, socially unacceptable, or incredibly difficult it may be to do so, including when no one is watching. The instant one sets aside their ethicality for even a moment, that ethicality loses much of its strength. The temptation to give in, to follow in one’s own footsteps down the slippery slope of questionable choices, grows each time this is done and, before long, all ethicality is lost. This is what happened to Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist famous for his use of free dinners, job offers, football game tickets, and other extravagant gifts to corrupt and win the votes of congress members. He may have been moral at first, using only legal and ethical means to influence legislation, but a lack of integrity led to the loss of his ethicality.

Just as integrity is essential to being ethical, so is truthfulness. In order to achieve-and retain-our ethicality, we need to be completely honest with ourselves about our motives, constantly mindful of our actions, and always brave enough to face our fallacies. This is where Abramoff’s most glaring failure laid. Not only did he use unethical means of persuasion, but he convinced himself that such methods were completely moral. Self-deception led to the belief that he was the epitome of morality among lobbyists. Had he confronted the truth, he would have been able to adjust his path and avoid further use of unethical practices, not to mention prison time, loss of face, and other grave consequences.

To be ethical is to be considerate of others, morally upstanding, and completely nondeceptive. By fully understanding each aspect of ethicality, we can cut through the overshadowing haze of rationalization and work together to better ourselves, each other, and society.

Lesa Rae Waterer, Class of 2019, Volcano Vista High School, Albuquerque, NM

 

TAYLOR ROGERS’ SECOND PLACE ETHICS ESSAY

What Does it Mean to be Ethical

Within our world of skeptical and moral questions, we ask amongst ourselves what is right and wrong in the play of a society that feeds on bad decisions. As a whole, the questioning of moral has become so bent, bad choices are used advantageously through politics, media, and social justice. What does this mean for the individual that serves a part of any society? Whos to say that a general ethical process is moral or immoral? General truths serve as a guide but if everyone agrees on an immoral process, then what does it mean to be ethical?

As an individual who lives and plays the roles of society, they must sustain their basic human needs regardless of the circumstances as well as function in society such as working for currency to pay for the basic human needs and pleasures, abiding by the law, and contributing to the system by paying taxes or volunteering in a community. But what if the job one work at, works for a man using this person’s skills to harm others, and the taxes one pays go to upper class, and the volunteer service someone has done is against other people’s morals like building a satanic temple of worship. You can’t necessarily quit your job because, how will you pay for your basic human needs. You can not quit paying taxes because it is against the law, and the satanic temple you built is not wrong to you because of your subjective upbringing. Ethics are subjective to everyone. A child could be raised to believe stealing in any means necessary is completely moral. We know that’s wrong but to this child, it is not. This applies to a society where everyone pays a small portion to benefit a person of higher power and continuing the suffrage of everyone else. The rest of society does not necessarily disagree with the awful things are being done in the hands of powerful people to whom we work for, because the rest of society has to sustain life somehow, but at the cost of conformity to the system because the system works to sustain this. I suppose it would be ethical for the individual in this scenario, to simply comply and live to help others in need. As for the unethical people in charge however, they have a say in how the rest of the individuals will work to benefit them. Would it be wrong then for the individual to challenge the hands of power? I suppose it’s dependent on how everyone else feels about your challenge against the corrupt system of which everyone lives in.

If being ethical means to be fair, moral, and consistent with the struggles of good and bad in order to make the righteous pathway in life, how can this be applicable in a society where these mindsets are bent because everyone agrees on things that are toxic and vile. With ethics, we balance the pros and cons of decisions in order to make the righteous choose. Variables create the pros and cons and the decisions are biased based on the balance of what appears to be good and bad. If I lived in society as I described, I know my actions in order to function within that society would be immoral and because of my upbringing, I would work to form a new system that complies with everyone’s needs even if it was against the law to do so because it is wrong to the people. Now in order for my new system to work, others have to agree and as a whole population comes to agree on the fairest, just, and moral system, there is still the question of what is truly right and wrong. Being ethical is not only fair but is also having the ability to challenge right and wrong not only for one’s self but for everyone. Being ethical means to be able to discuss these terms because everyone holds a bias of what right and wrong and if everyone finds a way to benefit themselves and everyone else at the time, an ethical perfection is achieved.

As far as being ethical in means that is applicable to this very moment, I would listen to what others have to say in order to help them in a fair manner. Whether or not they pay you back for what you have done does not matter to someone who lives ethically because they know it is the right thing to do regardless. So even in a broken and corrupt society, the moral question is a guide to live in what perhaps is enlightenment but with that being said, would it be ethical to somehow share ethical living with everyone? I suppose that decision is not quite agreed upon.

TINA MEMARIAN’S THIRD PLACE ESSAY

What does being ethical mean to you?

According to Merriam Webster the word ethical comes from ethics and means a set of moral principles : a theory or system of moral values. This definition can describe anything that happens in society. When people make decisions, the actions that come in to play are directed by ethics. Many respond that the term ethical means doing what is right, however, what people consider right is different from everyone. Doing what is right can be based off emotions and intuition, however, it can sometimes be misleading. In society people listen to their conscience and believe in the concept of ethics when making a decision. People should not lie or cheat but should always be truthful and genuine in their actions. The term not only means doing what is right, but doing what is right in terms of morality, justice, and duties. When deciding to do what is ethical, it should be done by deciding on doing the right thing not only for yourself but for those around you. 

Ethics is introduced to people from the very beginning in school and in the form of books. In stories, the moral of the book is taught to teach people a lesson. A common topic regards being ethical. To kids, ethical means being honest and not deceiving someone else. Ethics helps people make decisions and is a crucial way for people to do what is right. It was shown through picture books and taught kids to be kind. It helped kids make friends .with one another and always be sympathetic. As people grew up, the meaning of being ethical has been modified by peoples thoughts. 

In the book Fahrenheit 451, author Ray Bradbury takes his readers through an uphill battle of ethics. The main character has a battle between himself and authorities. He is constantly wavering over doing what he believes he needed to do and listening to the law. Books were illegal in society, but the main character believed they were important, and he decided to fight for them. To him, ethics came to play when deciding what actions to take. He did not want to fight authority, but he wanted to read books. As the end he came to his own terms and did what he thought was right. Ethics came to play when he wanted to expose the truth and help the people. To him he thought he was doing something right, but in the end was it right for just him or the people? 

In the television series Smallville, a young boy Clark Kent risks his life to save everyone around him. He gains super hero abilities as a young boy and only uses them for good. He had multiple chances to use his powers for personal gain, however, he knew the difference between right and wrong. He could have gotten ahead in any situation, but he decided on going the ethical way. When he played football, he did not use super speed to become the star quart back, instead he worked hard and earned his way to become a good player. Throughout the series, he sacrificed himself multiple times. To him, being ethical was using his powers to save everyone: was that ethical? 

The concept of ethics comes into play when people do what is right for the common good of the people. Everyone has their own definition of doing what is right, but ethical actions become clear with selfless acts of humility and truth. I have seen countless examples of what being ethical means. I have seen it through people, film, and books, and they have all helped me form a definition of my own. Being ethical to me means committing moral principles which are founded on the idea of doing good for individuals and a community: to treat everything with civility.