I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Sometimes I’ll be off and away from my “second job” of writing articles, creating videos, and making podcasts, only to have some thought enter my head that ends up being the impetus to all three.
That’s the case with this particular piece (and the associated video, and podcast).
For some reason, a person I know who’s doing various kinds of what I would refer to as skilled manual labor crossed my mind, and gave me a cause to think in a direction, that was out of the ordinary for me.
I began to consider that many people may well think I look down my nose at such folks.
As I said in the companion video to this piece, I assure you nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact is, I’m that guy who sees the value in just about every job a person could do—with certain notable exceptions.
Are you a truck driver? Are you a carpenter? A grocery store checker, or stocker? How about a janitor? Do you have the thankless task of scrubbing toilets, or patching roadways? If you’re any of these, and a good many more, you’re seriously important. It doesn’t matter if you work in fast food, wield a scalpel at your job, have your head in law books, write code, work security, or law enforcement, or as an E. M. T., or do a thousand other jobs, you’re somebody to be valued, and appreciated.
Going down this trail, I began to consider what makes a person someone I don’t appreciate as a worker.
That led me to ponder the titular concepts for this article, legality, morality and things ethical.
You see, it’s these three—or a lack of one or more of them—that may change my outlook, on your worth in the world of work.
It came to me, that a person may be doing a job that’s ethical, moral or both, but that’s not legal.
That, I decided, is just fine in my mind; though I know at some point, they’ll possibly have to pay the piper.
Then I considered the opposite, a vocation that’s legal, but not ethical, or moral, or yet again, not either.
I got thinking about those who set usurious rates on credit cards.
Of course, the majority of lines of business, are all three; the result being, they don’t tend to cause me any type of concern at all.
Then came the next thought, there are jobs that are in various acceptable camps, but the people working at them can still do things that’re wrong; whether illegal, immoral, not ethical, or in some combination of the three.
It was at that point, I realized what I was considering.
The real idea rattling around in my brain, was the subject of one of my recent articles. The actual thing at the core of the conversation, was character.
Suddenly, the cat poster from the Lego movie, sprung to mind, along with a seemingly trite message. “Character is when you do the right thing, even when nobody’s looking.”
That’s what makes a good or bad worker. That’s what makes a particular profession worthy of praise, or scorn.
It happens that the hallmarks of good character can partially be summed up, in the ideas of legality, morality and ethics.
That epiphany brought back to mind, a conclusion I’d come to sometime in the past.
In my mind, there’s a sort of hierarchy for these three attributes.
First is morality. If it’s not morally correct, in my mind, the other two simply aren’t important. If you can’t do, or be something in good conscience, nothing else much matters. In my way of viewing the world, that’s the very essence of morality.
Next on the list, is whether what you are, or do, is ethical. If it’s morally correct, it ought to be considered ethical as well, though that’s not always the case. That said, if it’s legal, that doesn’t mean it measures up to either of the other two standards.
That pretty much drops legality to the bottom of the pile in my mind.
If something’s doable in conscience, the fact that it’s not considered either of the other two, may not be much of an issue. Though the result of doing it may not be desirable, in terms of consequences.
If I have to do something, assuming I want to be morally correct, then the ethicalness or legality of that thing is of no significance.
If society counts it reasonable—that is, if it’s considered ethical—yet it’s not something I can do without being outside what I believe to be correct, its being so, is of little import.
Likewise with legality. Things counted legal, are still not things one ought to do if they fail at either of the two I consider the higher criteria, of ethical and moral.
So in all of this, I came to understand what makes a given set of life choices—employment based or not—respectable to me, is they meet at least the standard of being moral. The more measures they can match, the greater their level of acceptability in my mind.
This is why so many perspectives and directions, can be so varied, and yet command in me, such respect.
Those performing or moving in such ways, are working to make a world, in which good can readily be seen, and experienced.
I’m quite sure many readers are sitting there going, “Well duh!”
The point though is, there may be people out there, who haven’t come to understand the truths I’m trying to express here.
It’s for such people, this article can be argued to exist.
If you aren’t seeing things through the lens I present, may I humbly ask you to think about changing your vantage point to make it so you start doing so?
Summarizing, just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it meets any higher standard. If its ethical, chances are good it’s legal. That said, it’s not a foregone conclusion that it’s morally correct. Legal, supposedly ethical or not, when something’s a matter of conscience, it’s almost certainly the right thing to do or be. Keeping this in mind in one’s travels, is almost certainly, a good idea.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.