Forging An Ethical Path Essay

1720 Words 7 Pages
“Who Am I?”: Forging an Ethical Path
The Oxford Dictionary offers a definition of ethics as, “The codes of conduct or moral principles recognized in a particular profession, sphere of activity, relationship, or other context or aspect of human life” (Ethics, 2015). The Merriam-Webster dictionary’s offering is more succinct but also sheds light on where problems can arise in the interpretation and actualization of ethics on a practical level: “rules (sic) of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad” (Ethic, n.d.). I grew up in a home that was permeated with Christian values—from grace at every meal, to prayers dutifully recited at bedtime, to church every Sunday. My home was also a place where sexual, physical and emotional
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I remember that we had company over—I must have been about seven or eight years old. I wish I could remember which book it was, because I was totally engrossed. It was a fantasy of some sort and one of the characters was a sweet little creature I had come to adore, who was the epitome of pure goodness—it was courageous; it healed people; it spread happiness. It was killed by the antagonist and I spent the next couple hours weeping inconsolably from the core of my being and was never the same child after that day.
At the time, I was unaware of the inner process that resulted in that torrent of emotion. In retrospect, I recognize that this was the moment I realized that goodness is not always rewarded. I would later take a longer view, but at that moment I knew that Jesus’ decree regarding ‘loving thy neighbor as thyself’ was not the same kind of rule as ‘Thou shalt not steal’. The assurances that if you were a good boy or girl you would be rewarded were no match for the reality of a world where my father was a presence to be feared—if he was sober, he could lash out and hit you at any moment, and if he was relaxed and had a drink or two, he became too friendly and would touch you in ways that made you feel sick inside. This was a world where the children at school were dangerous and cruel, and despite meetings with the teacher where it was explained that when she left
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I read philosophy and experimented with LSD and other drugs that expanded my worldview, while alcohol and sex helped repress memories I was not able to process yet and quell the fear of being a child fending for myself in the world— despite my bravado and the eventually obvious fact that those activities clearly endangered my safety. The dichotomy of finding fortification through the weakness of addiction and a sense of agency in a lifestyle that most considered a cop-out presaged a recurring theme that ultimately illuminated my route to understanding and

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