On Tuesday, March 19, high school students were honored at Weber State University for their contributions toward furthering ethics. Students from local high schools earned scholarships provided by the Richard Richards Institute for Politics, Decency & Ethical Conduct. Essays from three students, Melissa Garrett, of Ogden High School, Cache Hancey, of Layton High School, and Shaylee Avery, of Northridge High School, are shared with Standard-Examiner readers.
It starts with a ripple
By MELISSA GARRETT
In the animated Disney movie "Pocahontas," the wise old tree Grandma Willow touched a still pond with the tip of her branch and caused a small ripple. She then said, "So small at first but then look how they grow. But someone has to start them. Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one."
In a world of dishonest, selfishness, and wrong conduct, our morals are blinded. Wrong actions seem good and good actions can be looked down upon and don't always seem popular. Think of a ripple in a lake. The circular motion is so small at first but gradually it grows larger. Someone had to throw a rock to start the ripple effect. The best way of encouraging others to act ethically is too personally have high moral standards myself. Ethical principles include being honest, maintaining integrity and having high moral standards in your life. It means to serve others and show kindness. It means to make a difference in the world even though your kind actions may be small.
To prepare for the Nike regional race in Arizona, my sister and I went to a 5k cross-country race in American Fork. In the second mile of the race, my legs started giving out and it was getting harder to breathe. A girl next to me in the race realized that I was struggling. This girl was from Park City, a rival team. Just a couple of weeks earlier, Ogden High had lost the Cross Country State Championship to Park City. The defeat was devastating because Ogden was expected to win; we had trained hard and we knew we were going to take home a trophy. The Park City girl turned to me in the race and said, "Ogden, stay strong. Come with me. Let's do this." Even though both teams seemed to dislike each other, she showed true sportsmanship when she spoke encouraging words to me when we were rival competitors. She has inspired me to be a leader to my team and the people with whom I associate. Win or lose, I now want to encourage others to reach their full potential.
I have many people I look up to who inspire me to do good; my parents, my sister, my friends, teachers, coaches and church leaders. Their examples to me are a ripple that touches my life to become the best person I can be. Kindness, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, and hard work are character traits I have seen in others around me. The people in my life have influenced me to become a better person. Now, through my example, I want to be a leader to those around me. And by living the characteristics I've mentioned in this ethics essay, I will become a ripple. Mahatma Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom that rippled across the world. He said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world." If I want a world with people who act ethically, then I have to live that standard.
Ethics based on community principles
By CACHE HANCEY
The world is shrinking. In fact, it can be held in the palm of your hand. Ethics are based on community standards. The idea of "community" is changing. Technology has increased our ability to interact with people throughout the world. Our idea of community must include online social networks. Social networks can and should be used to promote positive ethics. Websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be instruments of constructive societal change.
Billy Ray Harris was a homeless man in Kansas City Mo. Once asking for people's spare change, Billy Ray Harris is now receiving hundreds in donations for his ethical behavior. After he returned the wedding ring of a woman who accidently dropped it into a cup that Billy was using to collect spare change, that woman, Sarah Darling, decided that Billy should be rewarded for his good behavior. Their story has been viewed by millions through social networks. It touched many hearts, and donations were solicited and sent through online access. Since the idea of community has evolved, Billy Ray Harris has become a part of many lives and has become a role model of ethical behavior.
Not all behavior displayed online is ethical. Many people exposed through the internet were not expecting to be recorded. Examples of bad behavior are also motivation to avoid improper or unethical acts. Recently a high school student was determined to discover who had been stealing from the girls' locker room. She hid in a locker and recorded a teacher searching students' possessions, taking money. The video went viral through our community of social networks. It is a reminder that any actions can be shared with millions, a deterrent for unethical behavior.
The public can feel very impotent when exposed to unethical behavior, especially of high profile individuals. What difference can one person make in a world where Lance Armstong can lie about using performance enhancing drugs to achieve success in his athletic career and still be admired? How can one person affect the political climate when some influential politicians of both major parties are corrupt and yet still retain their positions? Can one person succeed in their education honestly, when others are taking shortcuts? The average person really does have power. They have influence in their community of social networks by liking and sharing stories of positive moral behavior on Facebook, re-tweeting and following principled role models on Twitter; by viewing and posting videos of ethical acts on YouTube. There is also opportunity to reward financially those with exemplary ethical standards in our community.
Our changing society has made individual influence possible with the power of social networks. Whether the example is positive or negative, with instant and vast distribution it can promote positive ideals in behavior. It is up to the new "community" to determine that the power will be used to increase and encourage high ethical ideals.
By SHAYLEE AVERY
What are ethical principles? Ethics is a set of moral codes for individuals, companies, groups, and organizations. Ethics vary from place to place and person to person, but one thing remains universally true; ethics is a vital ingredient of a healthy and honorable society. Without ethical guidelines, not only would individuals get wounded and bruised, but the future would be disabled and marred. As Albert Camus says, "A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon the world." Despite the awful consequences, some people still insist on ignoring moral codes, usually because of pride or greed. There are three key parts of ethics; our actions do affect those around us, ethics are set up to defend others, and ethics are also established to protect us.
An indisputable sign that someone is maturing is the epiphany that his or her actions have a direct influence on everyone around him or her, and the realization of this newfound responsibility to make the effect positive and beneficial. Humans are social beings and we leave impressions on others unconsciously and consciously. This exchange is an inevitable part of life. A sensible and noble ambition for everyone to have is this: to constantly pursue lightening the loads of our fellow humans and to continuously put forth an effort to not intentionally hurt another or cause them pain. If everyone held onto such an objective, then none would be lacking aid or damaged by preventable events. That is one of the goals of ethical principles.
Potter Stewarts once said, "Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do." One problem our society as a whole has always faced is the wrong impression that rules and guidelines are established to hinder, trap, and confine us. Rules actually serve to protect, guard, and shelter everyone they encompass. The issue of pride gets in the way between the realization and the misconception. As stated in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, we, as human beings, have "unalienable rights." Ethics jumps in when those "rights" start to infringe on others and prevent them from acquiring their own civil liberties. Doing the acceptable and fair thing requires a certain level of humility; willing to sacrifice petty and insignificant rights for the good of the whole.
Unfortunately, greed is a tangible enemy against ethics. Greed and pride jointly dismantle ethical guidelines and cause others to look out for only selfish gains. They are our biggest adversaries when it comes to ethics, or any part of life. Learning to recognize them as obstacles and deciding to overcome them will greatly increase loyal followers of ethics.
Humans do need rules. Ethics supply a few of our instructions for how to handle each other with kindness and thoughtfulness. Ethical principles are what set us apart from other animals; they contain and enhance our humanity. Understanding the three parts of ethics will help us reach the mature ability to execute ethics effectively.