Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Ethics

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"A man without ethics is worse than an animal"

In fact, animals have ethics. It is said that man is worse than the wild beasts of the jungle (or grasslands) because they hunt only for food and only when they are hungry. Many times, I used to be surprised while watching wild life shows when I saw gazelles, wildebeest and other animals on the menu of the predators walking and grazing just a few metres away from the big cats who are just lolling and sun bathing, looking lazily into the horizon. I thought, 'Aren't they scared that they may suddenly leap and bite?' Apparently not. It is very clear to the grass eaters when the cats are hungry. At which point, they are in a state of alarm and quickly relay the message to the rest of their herd as well. The cats will hunt when they are hungry, and at other times, they are just yet other entities in the ecospace.

However, in today's world, lesser and lesser people seem to have ethics. This could be a result of various influencing factors. One of the main factors according to me, is education. When young, the child needs to be taught the differences between right and wrong. There is a proverb in Kannada 'ಗಿಡವಾಗಿ ಬಗ್ಗದ್ದು ಮರವಾಗಿ ಬಗ್ಗೀತೆ' which means 'That which doesn't bend when it is a sapling, will it yield when it becomes a tree?'. It is very difficult to teach an old dog new tricks. People, once set in their ways, don't change most often. And therefore, once they taste the easy way of doing things, they start finding the right way of doing things too hard. When I can do it this way, why should I do it the other way?

There are thousands of examples - I am not going to tell you something that you already know like politicians looting the country, policemen taking bribes and examples as these. These are some that you are already quite familiar with, if not experienced it as well. Take a corporate world. Large companies where only very educated people get in, multinational software companies for example, full of software engineers, coders, programmers, and managers from good business schools. I heard from a friend that the largest enterprise company in the world, IBM, had employees pilfering coffee beans from the coffee machine. When the company realised this, they stopped providing this amenity. This clearly affected even honest people. This is what happens quite often. Mistakes of a few take a toll on a bigger population. Coffee beans - Imagine, these guys are really highly paid, and they are educated. They obviously know taking what's not yours is not right and yet, they did it. Could they not afford the coffee beans? Still, people do it.

This is just one example. There are many, where man does things out of greed. The world's second largest enterprise company used to give fruit juices to the employees in tetra packs. People used to sneak in a few boxes into their bags and hold one in their hand while sipping from the other. This also was stopped subsequently. Amenities are provided for the employees - don't misuse them.

We should learn to be satisfied with what we have first. In the sense that, to desire things is not entirely wrong, but as Buddha says, 'Desire is the root cause of all evil.' Rightly put, people should have desires, for it is desires that drive a man to move ahead. If man didn't have desires to become better, to become richer, or have a thirst for knowledge, man would have also been lolling on the grass like the wild cats or maybe hanging from a vine. It is desire that drives a man ahead. But we should also know what limits are - what is right and what is wrong. When you start blurring the line between the two, when you start following the crook of the hook or crook method, that's when you are drifting in the wrong path.

People often tend to think - How is it going to affect a multi billion dollar worth company? A few coffee beans? It may not affect the company in terms of money. People of principles cannot even begin to think of stealing coffee beans. People without principles don't even understand that it is wrong. They think those who don't do it are stupid. Please teach young children what is right and what's wrong. A man of principles is a man who will be respected. What's man without principles and ethics. Worse than an animal. Worthless.

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Comments from Buzz

Nikhil Narayan: I believe the concept of principles is a highly relative one and the entropy of the concept is way too high....

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