When Did Ethics Become Subjective?

When Did Ethics Become Subjective?

By: Jodi Cross

You may have heard the old saying…It’s not what you do when someone is looking, it’s what you do when no one is looking that defines your moral character.  


How did the ethical balance in our society get so out of control? Do ethics still matter; are they relevant or subjective? Ethics are a standard of moral behaviors that are accepted by society as right versus wrong. They guide us, define our character and help us make the right choices. Then why the Ponzi schemes, corporate CEO resignations and  Martha Stewart going to jail for insider trading? All of this can’t be a good thing! Has greed commandeered our ethics? It seems like this generation doesn’t see any real moral absolutes and they tend to make decisions based on their situation. Which is to say, if it fits their lifestyle then why not do it?


Situational ethics has created a moral decay that is pervasive in our society today. People can be caught doing something and still lie about it, all while justify and blaming it on someone or something else. In theory, people agree about what is right and wrong, things like honesty, courage, respect for life are clearly right and cheating, lying, and stealing are wrong. So how did we get where we are today? 


Ethics is more than dealing with the legal consequences of your actions it is about how you feel about yourself when you do something that is ethically questionable. Better yet, ask yourself, would you want someone to do the same thing to you? People may be above the law and not get caught but we should never abandon ethics.


Ethics is something that should be ingrained in us. It is about how we treat one another. My parents modeled it every day by providing guiding values, and making us accountable for our choices.   Our forefathers decreed ethics as a self-evident truth, Moses brought down the commandments, not the suggestions. It is time we get a grip and stop sliding down the slippery ethical slope laced with justifications and excuses. Choosing the ethical solution isn’t always easy, that’s why it’s called an moral dilemma.  I believe if we all tap into our guiding compass we will pick the right path and one we can be proud of. Perhaps that will start a chain of events that will bring us back on course.  


Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com



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