It has been awhile since I have posted anything, as school is consuming most of my time. I couldn’t resist joining Writer’s Quote Wednesday today, as I have been pondering the concept captured in this quote a lot lately.
I am taking an Ethics class this semester which has turned out to be my favorite class for a variety of reasons, the least of which is that I am faced with ethical decisions on a regular basis in my job. The top reason, and most important, is that I am starting to realize how easy it is to judge others for their actions, while rationalizing and making excuses for my own.
I have become increasingly aware of an ongoing dialogue in my head that puts the people and situations I encounter in real life or in the news and media into two categories of either being right or wrong, good or bad. This can be exhausting and leaves me feeling quite disheartened by the end of the day.
I’ve always wondered how nurses and doctors could have participated in activities that seemed so blatantly wrong like the deception that occurred in the Tuskegee Study, or the T4 program and other major atrocities that happened during Hitler’s regime. Upon closer examination of their reasons, it becomes clearer how we all walk a fine line when rationalizing our own choices. Whether we are afraid to stand up to someone for fear of reprisal, we are simply earning a living, or we think are supporting some noble cause, it is often easier to take the path of least resistance.
Last night in class we talked about the dangers of becoming so emotionally detached that we are numb and complacent to the ethical dilemmas we face each day. I really liked this quote that spurred our discussion:
“In our technological culture perhaps the greatest moral danger arises not from sentimentality, but from devaluing feeling and not attending to or nurturing moral emotions. Numbness, apathy, isolated dissociations between thinking and feeling are also moral warning signals…the absence of emotional responses of empathy and sympathy become critical bioethical issues.” Callahan, 1995
I can think of times in my life when I have shut off my emotions in order to go against my own morals, and I see examples of this phenomenon often in everyday life.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t change the actions of anyone else, but I can certainly become more aware of how I make my own choices and what I am putting out into the universe. I will never be perfect, as that is an elusive term, but I can always strive to do better.