“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.” Marcus Aurelius
Can ethics get any simpler than this? Most people understand the differences between right and wrong, the truth and a lie.
Sometimes, people rationalize going against the simple premise of doing what is right by proclaiming that the end justifies the means, that they are above rules like these.
Sometimes, they claim their lies are for the common good of others.
Neither is true.
The end never justifies the means. That is just a way for people to make themselves feel better about being unethical. They lie and cheat, claiming it is for the better good of others. They are not doing it for the benefit of others, they are trying to justify an immoral action.
Annihilating an entire race of people in order to promote your own is never justified. Bombing entire cities to end a war is never justified. Suspending moral laws for the benefit of a few or many is never justified. The means will never justify the end, no matter how many benefit. There will always be other options, suspending moral laws may just be the most expeditious, the easy way out. If tried hard enough, an ethical solution will always be found. People just need to take the time to find it.
Those who lie never do it for the benefit of others, despite what they claim. They are lying for themselves. Maybe one can justify withholding the truth for the benefit of others, that’s what secrets are. One can never justify lying for the benefit of anyone. Lying is an unethical act which only benefits the liar.
Politicians have become notorious for making these claims. They hold themselves above others, above moral laws, that when they lie or commit an immoral act, it is for the benefit of society.
No one is above moral laws, especially politicians.
Lies and unethical acts are the tools of self serving individuals, people whose main interest is their own agenda.
People have become blinded, believing that the end justifies the means, that lying to protect the majority is okay. That is why immoral politicians continue to prosper. We believe their lies. We accept their claim that they are above moral laws and ethics.
If we, the people, begin holding others accountable to these simple rules, ethics will once again prosper.
If we, the people, simply say “If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it”, regardless of the reason, others would not be able to justify immoral and unethical actions.
If we, the people, stand up and say, “that is not right, stop doing it” or “that is not true, stop saying it”, we are saying ethics comes before your self interest.
If we, the people, remain quiet, then we are accepting the fact that others are above moral and ethical laws. We are giving them permission to cheat us and to lie to us. We are saying “you are above moral laws, do what you must”
It is not “If it is not right do not do it, unless …; if it is not true do not say it, unless…”
It is not ‘Do what is expeditious, regardless of ethics”
It is not “Do what benefits the most, regardless of ethics”
It is very simple: If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it” Period!