I think one of the major things we have not touched on in this class (and in life) is how our personal ethics interplay with our families. We have discussed our professional and ethical obligation to speak up in the face of injustices, at nosism. If water utility A poisons their users with high lead, as an employee/engineer we would (should) feel obligated to put our career on the line to protect the public’s health. We understand, simple. Admittedly hard to do, but still simple to understand.
We have discussed developing our person code of ethics, adhering to them, and trusting them. If we feel something is wrong, we should act to rectify it. However, we commonly relate these situations to businesses, corporations, summer jobs, a shuttle launch, etc. In these situations, it is you and your ethical code vs a manager, a business practice, a co-worker, or maybe even a friend.
The question I have is, do the same rules apply if you are at home? Do you still apply your code of ethics when it is you vs a family member? Whether it be a parent, sibling, or child? And regardless of if you do apply the same code, should you?
I think the largest difference is that we feel that we owe something to our family members, and through this connection I feel it is easy to blur the ethical line even more.
Think back to our discussion on the valet job, and taking money from the owners share to increase the tip jar and each of the valet’s take home pay. One of the largest justifications for turning your co-workers in was ‘I do not owe them anything, I want to stay true to myself and why would I cover up for people I barely know?’, but what if it wasn’t some random strangers. What if your brother or sister was the ring leader? What if he or she had done you a favor by getting you the job in the first place, and only then did you realize what was going on. Would everyone who turned in their coworkers when they didn’t know them do the same if it was their own blood? I personally don’t think everyone would.
Another situation (the one that got my thinking about this in the first place) goes back to my home town, and the recent death of someone I grew up with to a heroin overdose.
We were not close, I was a few years older, and I will keep my opinions about her and the situation largely to myself; though I will say the media’s portrayal may not be entire consistent with my own opinions of the deceased. Regardless, addiction is a terrible thing, but not entirely the point of this example.
For those interested in a back story, here is a link to the media’s take (video and a write up in the article): http://wamu.org/story/17/10/10/drug-cop-daughter-opioids-one-familys-story-addiction/
In brief, a police officer who worked for multiple years on a Narcotics Task Force was faced with a daughter addicted to heroin, among other illegal substances. For a man who was adamant about “doing God’s work” by fervently arresting and “target[ing] everyone with any connection to the drug trade: supplies, dealers, and addicts” his position on drugs both personally and professional could not be more clear. The question I pose goes back to the blurred lines that family can create. It is obvious (whether right or wrong – since addiction likely needs more treatment than just arrests) that Mr. Simmers felt arresting dealers and users was what he should do professionally (and ethically), but yet he doesn’t apply the same reasoning to his own kin, should he? Should he, since he thought it was the best course of action, have arrested his daughter for possession of illegal drugs? Professionally? Ethically?
In the end he didn’t, as I doubt most people would. I think it highlights a unique point that people generally work on developing their personal code of ethics, applying it to their professional work place, and (seemingly) throwing it out in their family lives. This begs the questions, should ethics stop when you clock out, or should you bring ethics home with dinner?