- Morality -- a system of conduct and ethics that is virtuous
- Ethics -- Ethics (also known as moral philosophy) is a branch of philosophy which seeks to address questions about morality; that is, about concepts like good and bad, right and wrong, justice, virtue, etc.
"I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out." --Roger EbertI love this quote, from the article linked above. I like the idea of creating happiness where I go - whether it's giving someone a reason to smile or laugh, listening when they need it, or doing something that needs to be done. And this works for me, based on my experience.
2. Do no harm.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor. The real, medical kind, not the Sciency Kind I'm trying to be now. And I remember learning about the Hippocratic Oath. While this phrase isn't actually part of the oath, I did read about it, and it struck a chord with me. I still like it, because it seems to run counter to the conventional wisdom of 'there's a pill for that.'
It's important to me, to avoid doing harm to others - directly or indirectly. There have been times when I've ignored this, and acted selfishly in a way that didn't account for others' feelings. And I've really felt that violation of ethics acutely, enough to know I can't live my life that way. I also know that there are plenty of opportunities for this statement to fall into contention... issues of self-defense, or war, for example. Maybe a better way to state it is 'Protect others'.
3. Be mindful.
Honesty with myself, awareness of my surroundings, the ability to see the actions of others, staying in the present, letting go of burdens I don't need to carry... all of these things will help enhance my life. They'll also help me become a better person, better at interacting with others and helping those that need it.
4. Act out of love.
This was a line from The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman. The author was talking about freedom from illusion, stepping into consciousness and awareness, and how at that point, it was only possible to act out of love. And from love comes respect, mercy, empathy, compassion, understanding... a whole host of things that are so important to offer other people, and ourselves.
Or, as Anne Lamott says a little more directly... "Don't be an asshole."
What are the critical ethics or morals on which you base your actions?