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  • David Watts

The lost five Commandments

I wanted to revisit the Commandments emails which I sent out months ago. You have read the 10 Commandments and now are the lost 5. (if you refer back to email #1 when “Moses” dropped the tablet”

The lost five Commandments:

Ethics

It is interesting that when I was developing the article that ethics has fallen into the lost five. Sometimes I struggle with others when interacting with them in changing scope. How do the TPAs, TPCs, building managers and building superintendents handle ethics. If we do the right thing then we should feel confident we are being ethical. If someone lacks the knowledge about why we are doing things, it is our job to explain as to why things should be handled in this manner.


Below is from the RIA about ethics in restoration. It is a long read, but worth it.


1. AN INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS

Respectable leadership within any industry requires a solid understanding of the difference between ethics and morality, as well as how they are exercised on a daily basis.

A common definition for ethics is: “a system of moral standards or values.” (New World Collegiate Dictionary, 1996)

Therefore, we must understand morality to understand ethics. The definition of morality: “beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior.” (Merriam- Webster's Learner's Dictionary, 2016)

While morality distinguishes between “right and wrong,” ethics are not quite so clear. Ethics are simply a “system of moral standards or values.” This difference in meaning is hugely important to those who seek to be ethical in their practices.

While the two words have different meanings, they are clearly related to each other and require us to carefully ponder situations, which require us to understand these distinctions. To make it clear, let’s consider some non-secular situations that a person may face.

Moral Challenges

It is not uncommon for children to be raised with parental training in understanding the difference between right and wrong. We learn from an early age that giving and sharing with others is “right” or “good.” In like manner, kindness, respect, patience, compassion and courage are similarly “good” characteristics to possess. In contrast, we also learn that stealing, fighting, or lying is “wrong” or “bad.” In fact, some reinforce this training with a dedicated commitment to their religious faith, where morality is heavily emphasized.

In today’s society, it can be somewhat easy to recognize the difference between right and wrong in business transactions. For example, we know that it would be immoral to steal from a customer, to physically strike a customer or to misrepresent charges by lying to customers about the services actually provided. These are moral issues and are quickly identified as “right or wrong.”

Ethical Challenges

Ethics are different from morals in that they are not simply “right and wrong;” they are a “system” built upon our moral guides. There are times when decisions are not so black and white. Sometimes we have situations where the answer is somewhat “gray.” For instance:

We know it is wrong to murder, but how about in times of war?

We know it is wrong to steal, but what if your children were starving?

We know it is wrong to murder, but is capital punishment wrong?


There are clearly times when these questions cause a person to pause to consider the implications of their answer. When you consider the examples above, it is apparent that each scenario has two “correct” answers.

This is ethics! ...The choice between “right and right.” (While using morality as your guide.) One of the best ways to understand ethics is by remembering the Golden Rule “Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you.”

To make matters even more problematic, there are occasions when one may even have the LEGAL right to an action – yet still presents an ethical dilemma:

One may have the legal right to smoke tobacco in public, but many question if they should be permitted to subject others to the smoke.

One may have the legal right to smoke marijuana, but many question if this is a form of “drug abuse.”


Of course, the answers to such questions are far beyond the purposes of this manual, however, the dialogue that would emerge from such considerations would likely result in a colorful variety of views, and that is actually the point. The ethical challenges one may face are likely to result in a variety of views. In some cases, it can be very difficult to define what is ethical and what is unethical. For instance:

Some argue that the Holy Scriptures provide a moral compass for today’s society. Indeed, there are valuable messages within them. However, at the time they were written, However, at the time they were written, genocide, stoning and other forms of capital punishment for actions common within today's society were elaborately described. Genocide, stoning and other forms of capital punishment for actions common within today’s society were elaborately described. Yet, such actions would clearly be considered unacceptable in today’s society. Again, this is the point: morality changes with time and societal evolution. If morality changes with time, then ethical decisions must change as well.

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