You meet them every day; the people who lie, cheat and steal, those who break confidences and betray friends, not to mention those who seldom keep their commitments. Yes, we have an abundance of folks around who lack ethics. But, are you one of them?
Ethics have to do with the most passionate and interesting parts of our lives: sex, relationships, self-understanding and self-growth, love and mysticism. Ethics are about relationships; the one we have to our selves and the ones we have with others. Ethics lie in the interaction between our beliefs and our actions, between our desires and our beliefs and between our true self and our false self. Ethics are the plumb line, the truth gage with which we stay aligned with our highest self. It’s about our sense of morality, our authenticity and our level of honesty. Ethics are the fire in our soul work.
Maybe you see yourself as an ethical person. Many who do also lie or ask someone else to lie for them. Have you ever told someone you were walking out the door or asked a family member to say you were “gone” when a phone call comes in from someone with whom you do not wish to speak? Ever walked out of a store knowing you had not been charged for an item or you were given too much change? Ever told someone you didn’t wish to meet for dinner that you were busy? Ever gone to an appointment for services knowing you didn’t have any money, gotten what you needed and then after your services were finished, you tell the service provider hoping he or she would understand? Have you ever committed to expenditures for which you didn’t have the money? These are little examples, and yet, the issue of ethics extends throughout the web of our relationships from the immediate personal ones, to people of others nations and races and to all living things. Can you imagine what the world might be like if everyone in it had good ethics and lived by them?
Most of us can justify a lack of ethics about truth telling. We often say, “Well, I don’t want to hurt that person’s feelings.” A deeper truth is that we don’t want to deal with the fall-out of telling the truth. When we are not honest, the message to our own self is that we are not worthy of having our truth and the message to the other is that we doubt his or her ability to deal with it. Take that telephone call for instance. What would have happened if you had simply said to your friend, “ I can’t talk right now because I am too tired to be really present? You are important to me and I’d rather call you back in the morning when I have more energy.” Most people think excruciating truth telling is bound to be hurtful. It never is, so long as it is told from an “I” space and is not critical of the other. For instance, “ I have been so busy I am taking time for me and am not doing lunches at this time. Can I call you when I feel more rested?” Or, “ I am trying to honor myself more these days so I have decided not to continue making plans with people who constantly change or cancel them.”
We judge a person’s ethics by his or her behavior. Wholeness is achieved when our actions are congruent with our values, knowledge, intuition, wisdom and feelings. When there is no space between who I want to be as a person and who I am currently being in the present moment. Having true integrity means there is a harmonious dialog between my inner voice and my actions that result in an external behavior that matches my values.
Ethics go beyond the law and guidelines; they are based upon relationship, not abstract principles. Living ethically means you have taken into consideration that every thing you say and do is solely about your level of integrity and never about the other person. No matter what excuses we make, we are the ones in charge of the level of ethical behavior in our lives. Is this issue of ethics an important one? You bet it is! The only way that we can justify being unethical is if we have distanced ourselves from the reality that, we are all connected. If any one of us is unethical, it has a major cause and effect on the rest of us, it moves outward not unlike the ripples from a pebble thrown in a pond. The more we distance, disassociate the easier it becomes to hurt each other through lies and a lack of ethics.
So how do we get back to being ethical? Start by asking yourself what it is you are afraid of that makes you lie or behave in unethical ways. Deal with those fears and begin to understand how incredibly empowering it is to be fully aligned with the best of who you are. Don’t cheat yourself out of it.
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013