A missing sense of ethics

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There are some who agree that our ethics have taken a collective turn for the worse over the past three decades or so. Be it work, business or social ethics, our general behavior seems to be on a subtle but downward spiral into something most of us are not comfortable with.

And many pundits will be quick to point out that it was the extraordinary oil boom years of the late seventies and eighties that propelled us onto this path. The economic burst injected so quickly into this country during that period led to a fragmentation of established ethics and mores.

Perhaps that may be too harsh a statement, but certainly among the generations spawned since, we witness firsthand the “me first” mob, the “I am better than” horde, the “silent objector” factions and a host of others that were once alien to this desert peninsula.

In the work place, it is not uncommon that work discipline remains the farthest thing from the minds of some of the staff. Be it their tardiness, their time-consuming obsession with the stock market during duty hours, their failure to complete assignments, because they are tired due to late night frolicking or because they simply don’t care, all contribute to actions that are not well received.

And if they happen to be in the civil and government sectors, then it indeed affects the rest of us who have pending issues lying on their desks, often for months on end. Adopting a “nobody holds me accountable” attitude results in untold woe for those waiting for their transactions to be processed. Heads of public sector departments compound the misery meted out by their own unaccountable activities. While many transactions today can be successfully conducted online, others, unfortunately, do dictate a visit to the bureaucrats.

In the business sector, the spoken word that was once used to conduct business in place of the written contract is worth almost nothing today. Even contracts written in triplicate are habitually ignored or violated. Today’s promises in the marketplace are as easy to predict as our dry weather, and they are seldom honored.

Unscrupulous employers are abusing employee rights, while contracts are being granted to companies with very dubious track records. When businesses fail, recouping losses is often at the expense of the workers who may be deprived of their livelihood. The use of graft to get things moving is not an uncommon grievance. Perhaps the government crackdown on corruption will reduce much of that.

On a social level, the family bond has had its share of trials. Distance now separates relatives, and it is not the distance of mileage. Where once families related on a consistent level, today our gatherings are pretty much confined to weddings and funerals. The young have distanced themselves from the old, the educated from the ignorant, and the rich from the less fortunate. The extended family environment is gradually fading into oblivion.

In the home, as employers, how many of us have respected the rights of our staff and treated them with kindness and dignity? They, who sacrifice so much by leaving their loved ones in faraway lands to come and serve us, deserve that.

Interaction with others may be based upon what is in it for us, and not necessarily genuine concern. We are less tolerant with those who may disagree with us, and more prone to herd together with like-minded individuals, isolating ourselves further and further. Our conduct in public, on our roads and streets and in the workplace speaks volumes about our unethical behavior.

Our sense of ethics has to be rediscovered. In a peninsula that gave birth to Islam, if we would just adhere to the basic principles and guidelines set forth by this great religion, such practices would disappear practically overnight. But we have to begin by exercising those principles individually.

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


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