The Thought Process
There are many different thoughts that come to my mind when I am debating whether a decision is right or wrong. These various thoughts impact my view on which decision I should make. Most of the time, I make my decisions based on these influences. The first thing I ask myself when making a decision is what would God want me to do? I believe that God is my Lord and Savior and my goal in life is to please Him with the way that I live my life. My actions should reflect my faithfulness to Him, so it's important to me to follow His instructions and examples. God gives us a basic set of rules in the Bible and my goal is to follow these to the best of my ability. However, there are some things that God doesn't specifically talk about in the Bible. I have to make my decisions based off of what I believe to be right, based on my belief in God and what I think he would want me to do. While I often times make mistakes, following God's word points me in the right direction when a tough situation presents itself.
The second thing that I ask myself when deciding whether something is ethical or not is how will this decision impact my family? In the heat of the moment, I sometimes forget that every decision I make reflects on the people I love and the God I serve. My family are the people that I am constantly with and love so much, so any decisions that I make will effect them in some way. My family are the people who are supposed to be teaching me right from wrong. Whether I am thinking about it in this way or not, when I make a poor decision or a great decision, it reflects on the people who have raised me. Most of the time, if I make a poor decision, I think of it as me just being stupid, but when I think about it, every decision I make has a great impact on my family. I would never want to do anything in my life that would cause people to view me or my family in a negative way. When faced with an ethical dilemma, if the decision will bring shame and cause problems within my family, then I will not make this decision. If the decision will make my family proud and reflect a positive image on them, then I will make the decision.
The third thing that comes to my mind when faced with a tough decision are two questions: Would I want my siblings seeing this? Would I want my siblings doing this? My job as the oldest sibling is to set a good example for my two little brothers and my little sister. Whether I realize it all the time or not, they are looking up to me for guidance and want to do the same things that I do. I love my siblings and I want what is best for them. For me to be the best example and best big brother that I can be, I have to set an example for them with my actions. Thinking of my siblings and what they would do If they saw this decision greatly impacts my view on whether the decision is right or wrong. If I would want my siblings seeing/doing this then most likely, it is the ethical decision. If I wouldn't want them seeing or doing this, it most likely isn't the best decision.
The fourth thing that I take in to consideration when making an ethical decision is the possibility of getting in trouble with the law. I think that this crosses my mind more out of fear of getting in trouble rather than always wanting to do the right thing. I know that sounds harsh, but sometimes when everyone around me is doing things they shouldn't and trying to persuade me to do the same, the thought of going to jail or being arrested can be the deciding factor no matter how tempting the situation is. The thought of going to jail or being arrested going on my record could completely change my life. I would never have the same job opportunities, relationships, and success with that popping up every time someone looks me up. Sometimes in the moment, something might seem worth it, but if I step back and look at the consequences of I get caught by the law, that alone would most likely be the deciding factor on whether I make the decision or not.
The final thing that I think about when making a questionable decision is what will the people around me think. I know that I've always been told to be who I am no matter what and not worry about what everyone around me thinks but I fail at this quite often. It is really hard for me to completely not worry about what the people around me think of me because I am naturally a people pleaser. This aspect can both have a positive and a negative connotation depending on the circumstances. This can be a good thing when everyone around me is doing the right thing, so I am naturally going to want to do the right thing. However, this can take a very sharp turn when I get mixed up in a bad situation when everyone is doing the wrong thing and I have to make a decision whether to stand up for what's right and be made fun of or just go along with the crowd. This is where I have to ask myself the important question of what matters most: being cool or taking a stand for what I personally believe.
After thinking through all of these areas, I am ready to make my decision. If I think through all of these areas and every one checks out good, then that is most likely the most ethical decision for me. If I don't get through all these areas, then the decision most likely isn't the right one.
THE JOHN SCENARIO
Based on my ethical system, regardless of the good intentions of John, what John did was wrong. John had a very good reason to do the things that he did but just because he meant no harm, doesn't mean that it was the correct decision. If you go through my ethical system step by step, you will clearly see that what John did was wrong. First and foremost, John violated one of God's Ten Commandments. God tells us not to steal period. God doesn't tell us to not steal when it is convenient for us, he tells us to not steal at all.
The second aspect of my ethical system that John violates is how his decision will impact his family. John might be taking care of his wife, but his decision will impact his immediate family in a devastating way. From now on, John will always be looked at as a thief. This could impact his career in a big way. Sure, John might be saving his wife's life, but what good is John to his wife and potential kids if he is locked up in jail for his decision to steal? His wife is going to be more miserable fighting her disease alone with her husband in jail, rather than her husband at her side fighting it with her.
The third aspect of my ethical system that John violates is how his siblings would view him. I know that if I had made this decision, my siblings would view me in a totally different way. They would probably be proud because I was doing it to save my wife, but they would also look at me as the big brother who is known as a criminal and now is in jail. The siblings would most likely have to be constantly defending their brother who is known as a criminal. I would definitely not want one of my siblings known like this and I would do anything I could to prevent it. John had good intentions, but he is going to be viewed by everyone close to him in a different way.
The fourth aspect that John violates is being in trouble with the law. What John did is illegal and he will be arrested and thrown in jail for stealing. John had good intentions, but when it comes to being in trouble with the law, intentions ultimately mean nothing. I don't think John was thinking about the potential consequences when he stole from the store, but now he will pay the price in jail.
The final aspect that John violated in this decision was the way that people will now view him. John will no longer be viewed as a normal person because of his actions. He will be known as the criminal who stole from a store and was thrown in jail. This effects the image of John, his wife, and his potential kids. He truly altered people's perspective on him.
To conclude, John had great intentions and a very reasonable purpose to his actions, but based on my personal ethical system, what John did was wrong.