Just do what you’re supposed to do. It sounds simple enough to start with, right? Well, I’ve never accepted anything for face value, nor do I think anybody should. And getting beyond face value, if you haven’t already, will tell you that just doing what you are supposed to do isn’t always easy nor very clear. There are plenty of moral structures, ethical guidelines, and different belief systems that at any given point can be conflicting. At any given time there are legal, cultural, social, religious, or business morals and ethics to consider, and various ways in which to view each one. Is it ever ok to kill a baby? The Inuit may convince you that perhaps it is on occasion. What is discipline, spanking, grounding? What is exactly acting in the best interest of those you lead? I don’t want this to become a dissertation on the morality of ethics, rather I feel I can be more useful by hitting some wave caps that will apply to a more general audience in a more suiting fashion.
I wouldn’t say I have read a lot, but maybe more than average, on ethics. Spending time in the Marine Corps has also exposed me to additional, moral & ethical dilemma training. With all of, or the little, that I have read, I have decided: Just do what you are supposed to do. I am not saying I am the perfect practitioner, but I at least have a goal to be as perfect to upholding my mantra as possible. Choosing the “right” ethical structure is too hard. BUT, it is much easier to identify your commitments. If your job has certain expectations, regulations, or even just standards you have agreed to take on, they would count as a commitment. Are you married? Whatever agreements you have made within your marriage would count as commitments. Are you a volunteer coach? The duties of being a coach you volunteered to be are commitments, as are the expectations of the parents whose children they have entrusted you with. I could go on, but I think we all can get a good general idea of what I will now refer to as a “commitment”.
Doing what you are supposed to do is all about internal integrity and alignment. Much similar to the teachings of Charles Lawrence Allen, in his book “Why Good People Make Bad Choices” alignment is about deciding, FOR YOURSELF what you feel is right in your circumstances, and proving it through your actions. If you have a commitment to someone or something, generally, the “right thing” is the choice that best honors that commitment (which won’t be the same answer for everyone). If you made a commitment as part of your marriage to not drink, then when presented with the scenario, do what you are supposed to do, and refuse the drink. Sleeping with someone other than your spouse might be OK, if your commitments align for you and your spouse (know where you both stand together, in agreement, what your marriage does and doesn’t mean, where your religious values are, etc). You are driving over the speed limit? Well, if you are bringing your pregnant and in labor wife to the hospital, you are probably in alignment being as you are still meeting the intent of the traffic laws (Being as they are able to be adjusted in emergency situations).
If you are internally aligned, you are likely doing the right thing. If you have to justify something, it usually means you are aligned with some or most commitments, but not all. In that case, you are NOT doing what you are supposed to do. If you are still not sure, sit down and make a list of all your commitments (by my definition, not by Webster’s). Then make sure if there are people on the other ends of those commitments, that whatever you deem to be “right” or in with keeping the commitment, the party on the other end is in full agreement (this will also help you greatly in being more accurate in what you can expect from others, and what others should be able to expect from you). So, the mantra sounds simple, applies differently to each person if you get down to specifics, but stays the same in principal. Just do what you are supposed to do.
Added Note: I will personally admit that at times, you will have urges or be greatly tempted to do whatever you are NOT supposed to do. It happens, and, it’s part of nature. However, I can also admit, that making the decision to do what you are supposed to do, and retaining your internal alignment will develop a sense of internal integrity that will pay off much more than the source of your temptations.
As Always, Thank you for reading! Your comments are always welcomed!