Human Values and Professional Ethics
Human Values and Professional Ethics (A short essay)
God has made humans as a combination of vices and virtues. To live harmoniously in the society, one must strive to cause as less inconvenience to others as possible. On the contrary, practicing honesty, altruism, tolerance, hard work, compassion, forgiveness and patriotism makes a man’s existence meaningful, congenial, and worthy of praise. Avarice, deceitfulness, intolerance, cruelty, and vengefullness make a man’s life miserable. Not only does he disgrace himself, he imperils the society he lives in.
History is replete with instances where men and women of poor birth, with no education and inheritance, no mentor and no benefactor have brought light, happiness and hope to the human race. Santh Kabir, Madame Curie, Robert Baden Powell, Hellen Keller, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi are some of these individuals whose contribution to human well being will remain indelible in the sands of time.
On the other hand, there are vile persons like Pol Pot, Hitler, Bernard Madoff, Bruce Reynolds, Gengis Khan, King Prithviraj Chouhan etc. who brought immense misery, ill luck and penury and death to the people around them. Nearly a million died in the Second World War, thanks to Hitler’s misplaced patriotism. One fifth of Cambodians perished in labour camps just because Pol Pot wanted to implement a weird vision of egalitarian society. Bernard Madoff’s greed wiped out the life-long savings of millions of un-suspecting investors and Geghis Khan’s military conquests spilled innocent human blood in humungous proportions.
Why do the human beings, blessed with conscience and intelligence, suffer such bouts of intense misery? The reason is simple. Some wicked members of the society lack human values and professional ethics, and lead the gullible masses the wrong way.
Why moral values and professional ethics are so important. It is because they rein in a person’s demonic tendencies. A person of high morals and ethical values is much less likely to be swayed by the worldly temptations. Anchored to his conscience, he can keep away from degrading tendencies and live an upright life.
Twenty first century has brought comforts and luxuries to common people. Higher income and receding spiritualism have resulted in people craving for more and more material pleasures. They strive to acquire these through means fair or foul. People gripped by such yearning for un-deserved pleasures resort grievously wrong means. This is why we see such soaring corruption in every walk of life. People take bribe, commit fraudulent acts to acquire ill-gotten wealth. Consequently, honest hard working folks feel disillusioned with society. Either they rebel or just bear the injustice with a feeling of hurt and anger.
Curiously, people who are well-off and have no great need of income resort to immoral means with great enthusiasm. There are unethical doctors who needlessly scare patients to make them go for expensive treatments. There are judges who alter their judgments by taking hefty bribes. There are parliamentarians, police personnel, trade union leaders and politicians who willingly fall prey to the lure of monetary gains to tilt in favour of hideous elements in society.
The cumulative effect of such moral turpitude is devastating for the society. Governance suffers as bureaucrats gang up with corrupt politicians to siphon off public funds. As a result, the poor masses, who desperately need government intervention, are deprived of the benefits of a benign government.
Immorality and unethical behavior affects the private sector too. We see large MNCs collapsing because their owners turned on them. The Italian diary giant Parmalat and the American power utility company Enron are two good examples of individual greed of the owners overtaking their sense of responsibility. The respected Barings Bank collapsed because a rogue bank official by the name Nick Lesson indulged in highly illegal trading in derivatives.
The scourge of attack on women’s safety and decency which rocks India every day is a manifestation of the onslaught of lust over a person’s moral moorings. This explains why onlookers and bystanders rarely come to the rescue of an accident victim in the streets, or a victim of molestation crying out for help. The corrosion to the moral fibre of the society due to plummeting ethical and moral values has been quite severe. There appears to be no check on this creeping cancer.
What lacerates the soul of conscientious persons is the depravity seen in the fields of athletics, sports, clinical research conducted by drug companies, intrusive intelligence gathering by states, whaling, and baby food manufacturing. Unethical practices have embellished all these noble aspects of human life. Sports persons take to performance-enhancing drugs to win medals in global events. ‘Doping’ as it called today has reached scandalous proportions despite vigorous efforts to curb it. Ben Johnson in 100 meters sprint, Neil Armstrong in Tour de France, Ashwini Akunji of India caught in 400 meters race event, Anna Alminova of Russia in middle distance running are some of the infamous sports persons who fell from grace due to their failed drug test results. They brought disrepute to themselves, to their country and to the sports they specialize in. Unethical mindset lured them to drugs, although they knew the severe consequences of being detected.
Clinical research conducted by giant phrama companies is an area riddled with malpractices. The findings of drug trials are often severely misreported to favour the company making the new drug. As a result, the efficacy of a drug in treating an ailment is wrongfully over-stated and its harmful side effects are mischievously under-reported. The drugs get regulatory approval and released to the market, affecting the health of millions unsuspecting patients who consume them. This malaise has brought great harm to the healthcare sector. Why it happens? The greed of the companies making the drug masks their moral and ethical senses.
The way governments steal personal data and invade the privacy of common law-abiding individuals by electronic snooping has shaken the world to its very foundation. Assange of Weakileaks and the later Snowden revelations have brought to light the extent governments misuse their power to undermine people’s right to privacy.
In 2006, the Sanlu Group of China was found to be making and marketing spurious baby milk that caused death and life-long impairment to scores of new-borns in China. It was a scandal that tore the hearts of the Chinese mothers. What made Sanlu make such milk? Lure of profit and a utter disregard for ethical practices of the company executives was at the root of this scandal.
The utterly cruel and environmentally ruinous practice of Whaling, continuing despite severe worldwide protests, is a case of human morality being numbed by the penchant for profits at the cost of mother earth.
Like this the list of moral and ethical lapses that besmirches human existence goes on and on. The duel between conscience and inside devil continues. Sadly, the scale appears to be tipped in favour of sin rather than virtue.
In conclusion, we can say that the time has come for the society to look inwards and refocus on resurrecting moral values and professional ethics. If this does not happen, the slide towards immorality will continue till it devours the human race. A society without ethics and morality is like a rudderless ship drifting inexorably towards a dangerous whirlpool.