Jostling With Ethics -0- : Finding A Definition


I have often struggled within my self to answer a question: Is my behavior ethical? The first impediment in finding the answer has been to find the definition of what is ethics. The dictionary told me that ethics is a set of moral principles that govern a man’s behavior. I found myself no wiser be cause I then had to define what is moral. Morality I was told is the ability to ascertain between right and wrong. But, is not right and wrong subjective terms dependent upon environment and circumstances?

Over many years of internal struggle I came to the conclusion that moral behavior is the ability to choose a better plan of action under the existing environment , circumstances and available options. Bits and pieces of the chosen action plan may contain actions that in absolute terms may not be correct. But, if the over all effect of the chosen planned action gives the best possible result then the action can be considered to be morally correct.

Sounded wishy washy did it not? Yes I know that even after many years of cogitation my definition of moral correctness was not crisp or cut and dried. But I had to admit that if my thought process functioned through the English Language, this was the best that I could do. So, for the sake of emotional comfort I even tried to process my thoughts in Bangla/Hindi/Sanskrit. I found that it was somewhat easier that way. In vernacular, my question to myself became – ‘Is my Karma Dharma-Sammata?’ (Before I proceed any further, I must apologize to those of my readers who have drifted totally away from their vernacular tongue or have had no opportunity to learn a Sanskrit based language. If you feel uncomfortable especially because of the use of words like Dharma or Karma, just leave this paragraph out) . It became easier to structure an answer to that question because by definition Dharma is situational; Dharma is role based. It is also acknowledged that each human being enacts multiple roles and Dharma for each role can be different. Dharma for a father would be different from the Dharma for a king. When a king is also a father, this multiplicity of Dharma can cause conflicts. It is also acknowledged that such conflicts are common. There is even a name for this state of affairs. Such conflicts are called ‘Dharma Sankata’. A Karma or action that is Dharma-Sammata, i.e. is within the bounds of the related Dharma, is an action that can resolve this conflict or Sankata. Such an action would be morally/ethically correct.

Through out my life there have been many occasions where I have had to face such sankatas or conflicts. I wish to record my reconciliatory actions in such cases. My readers can then judge for themselves whether I had managed to resolve my conflicts successfully or whether my actions were actually just compromises.

The stories are to follow.


3 responses »

  1. Wow….i go through the same thought-process every day. If I am thinking in English then I start thinking of check-lists, dos/donts, be-calm, relax, smile, feedback.
    It is kind of like T-Scan of instrument panel in IMMC conditions…..O)

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