What are my Ethics about the Chesapeake bay; such a loaded question don’t you think? How could any person put their whole moral code into one summary and accurately depict who they are? I feel that most people can describe a moral code they aspire to follow but do not succeed in doing so at all times… And many people wonder why this is the case, I know I do: but to understand this enigma we need to reflect on how one develops an ethic.
I believe everyone’s moral code is determined by two areas of thought. The first category of thought comes from subjective moments of quick, reflex-like, thoughts/actions that one makes in the heat of the moment and the second category of thought which are the thoughts that follow and reflect upon the first category. This separation between instinctual and experiential thinking brings us to the age old conflict of human Nature vs. Nurture; The struggle between our animalistic nature stemming from our evolutionary origins and the social brainwashing of human society be it good or bad.
From my personal experience each initial thought is to benefit myself and then I run it through a societal moral system and see if it is the right thing to do or not. For example, if I finish some food and have a piece of trash in my hand my first thought is to get rid of it and then I find a trash can to throw it away in but lets break down the situation more. The first thought is to get rid of it immediately and conserve the most energy doing so, which I believe to be a result of survival instincts telling me that I am not effected by the trash and should put my energy towards something that will help my survival. But I have been taught that leaving trash on the ground is bad for the environment and will eventually have a terrible impact of the environment and should place it in a trash can. So then a course of action is to be made, do I drop it on the ground anyways? Do I go find a trashcan now? Or should I hold onto it till I walk by a trashcan later? Now in an example like that an environmental ethic can easily be determined by whether I chose to hold onto the trash or not, but which thoughts do we take into account when determining ethics? What if the answers aren’t so black and white?
Where ever I go I see trash all over the ground, I pick up the trash, but many times I don’t. Why is that? It is not that my ethic is that people should pick up trash some of the time… it is that my moral ethic is that I should pick up any trash I see on the ground but I choose not to follow it some of the times. I wish I could pick up all the trash I see but many times my priorities are elsewhere, as many people are. I have never heard of even the most environmentally conscious person pulling their car over for every piece of trash they see on the highway, it is just not realistic. Sometimes I will be lazy and walk past trash and then convince myself to turn around and go pick it up and I begin to wonder how morality is measured and what determines a strong ethic and a weak one. If I had just picked up the trash in the first place does that make me a better person, or does knowing I could leave it and choosing to pick it up anyways make me better? It’s hard to measure morals because most times people don’t know what other people are thinking. The questions arise if other people ever have the thought of ignoring the trash or if they just naturally have the desire to pick it up without any societal influence, and if they say they do are they just not aware of those thoughts and have that they have subliminal thoughts?
I guess the reason I am breaking down what I believe to be the normal mode of thinking to a person is to understand my nature. I hope in doing so I can learn whether or not I am a good person who is making good choices or if I have flaws hidden somewhere deep beneath the surface.