A discussion on ethics
Throughout the centuries, countless minds have philosophized about the ethics of “right” and “wrong.” Religion is based off of principles of “right” living and oftentimes condemns others for oppositional lifestyle choices. But where do these codes of ethics come from?
When it comes to ethics or morals, it is dependent on circumstances. I fully believe that our choices are dictated from our experiences, and it is only through awareness that we can make new choices.
In today’s world, one of the biggest issues we’re facing right now is assigning a value of “wrong” when someone does something different from us. But who gets to decide what is “right” to start with?
My Own Right or Wrong Dilemma
When I was on a farm in Tanzania, I experienced a moment where I faced with my own moral code. Given the opportunity to kill and eat a chicken, I had my own right or wrong scenario.
Initially, I thought that it was wrong to kill this chicken and that I was going to become a vegetarian for the rest of my life. However, after reflection, I ended up killing the chicken.
It was an intense experience that included a lot of tears and prayers as I grieved and respected the life that I had just taken. This gave me a whole new perspective; I felt more connected to being human than I ever felt in my entire life.
I think that anyone who eats meat should experience what it feels like to kill an animal to eat it. That way you have a better understanding of life and can make your decision to eat meat from that state.
This experience helped me realize something I didn’t know I was missing: how disconnected I had been from the cycle of life. I empirically had a new understanding and could make my own educated decision about my choice of eating meat.
Maybe you’ve had a similar dilemma and chose a different outcome. Does that make me “wrong” or “bad” for choosing to kill the chicken? What if the scenario was a little different and it was a dog instead of a chicken? How would you react then?
Products of Circumstance
I believe that we are products of our environments. An easy example to better understand this is to look at our geography and how that has shaped our food choices.
In America, we factory farm pigs, chickens, and cows in order to produce more meat. Many people don’t pay attention to this, or just consider it normal. However, if you were to live in India where cows are regarded as holy, this would be entirely sacrilegious, and “wrong.”
Another example is how in parts of Asia, they eat dogs. Since American culture keeps dogs as pets, as part of the family, this may seem grossly unacceptable for us. We might cry out in condemnation at this unspeakable act of animal cruelty.
But what dictates who is right or wrong in these scenarios? Both are based off of geography and what is culturally accepted. Personally, I can feel a difference in my body when I think about eating a cow--which has been normalized by American society--compared to eating a dog. However, I know that if I grew up in Asia, dog might be a regular part of my diet.
This mindset, of understanding that we are a product of circumstance, allows me to believe that if I were raised in the exact same circumstances as any specific person, I would make exactly the same choices as them. This is the perspective I choose to have when I look at dictators who are committing human rights violations.
I hold compassion in my heart for these people, because I understand that it must have been a result of great traumatic experiences that have given them the ability to commit genocide, or do any other unethical act.
While I have compassion, that doesn’t mean I condone their actions. I believe there is a better way to live.
Change Your World
If there is something you don’t like to see in the world, change it. You can start to change it by changing yourself and your actions. Create a world more aligned with the preferences you would like to see.
While I’d love for people to have the same lens and perspective as me, I also have compassion for other viewpoints. I have compassion for every single person, no matter how far apart we are on the spectrum of agreement. And yet, I’ll continue to spread my message and what I believe to hopefully encourage others to see the world from a similar lens as mine.
Just like quote that’s been attributed to Gandhi says, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” You can make choices out of your own moral compass and inspire others through your integrity, but also through your own embodiment of compassion for others.
Simply start changing your life and your world by asking this question: Why do I think they’re wrong, and I’m right? And slowly watch as your beliefs start to unravel.