Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What started me off on ethics

It all started with a supermarket shopping trolley. I was irritated with a trolley at our local supermarket, abandoned, in the middle of the only vacant parking spot that I could find. As I got out of the car to move the offending item, I mentally reviled those people who have no consideration for others and are probably self interested, unethical, and obviously lazy. Then, at the end of my visit to that shopping centre, I caught myself about to do that very same thing – abandon the very trolley that had earlier started me off, and which I had used!!

This set me thinking about what ‘made’ me perform actions, or think the thoughts I did, which may or may not be charitable toward others. What I discovered about myself was not very pleasing. But it started me on an enquiry into the why and wherefore of thinking and the actions, ethical or unethical, that stem from those thoughts.

This subject is as old as mankind, and that is what, at first, bothered me. If people had been thinking similar thoughts, and investigating their causes, for millennia, why was it that I had not, seemingly, progressed very far? My problem seemed similar to that of many, as witnessed by the daily reports in the media.

This is a never ending quest, which every person, and every generation seems to have to learn anew; it is one which has led me down many devious byways. All the paths trodden, all the well used roads I travelled, appeared to lead, ultimately, in one general direction; toward the inescapable conclusion that all thoughts and all actions have a purpose, and that purpose should not be centred on me; that there is a higher purpose, which each one of us has to discover for ourselves. That purpose is more enduring, more important than most of us realize, while engaged on our daily ‘grind’. It is how we live our lives and form our relationships with other wayfarers we meet on our life’s journey. It touches on the very purpose of life itself.

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