Nilai Etika

There was a question on ethics for my critical thinking class today that went something like this:

“You are driving at a slightly faster speed than normal because you were late. As you reach for your phone, you take your eyes off the road for one second and suddenly hit a person. This triggered a chain reaction; other cars started to brake and hit each other overall causing a catastrophe on the road.

As you get down to examine the person, you realise that he/she most definitely died on the spot. Suddenly, a woman came towards you in hysterics and started crying. You ask her what’s wrong and she looked at you in confusion. She then wailed, telling you that she’d accidentally hit the person dead.

You stand there, now with the opportunity to place the blame on her. There is a good chance that the police would take action against her, and you would get away jail-free. However, if they find out that it was you, you might be serving an even bigger penance for covering the crime up.”

i) What would you do?
ii) Why did you decide on your answer?
iii) How well did your decision adhere to your standards?

Ethics. Morality. Principles. Values.

Components that affect human beings in making decisions. People’s actions are guided and determined by what they believe in, which are influenced by external factors; things that were taught to them, values instilled in them at a young age – and personal deductions; their abilities to judge and weigh different possibilities and outcomes of a given situation.

The last question piqued my interest. “How well did your decision adhere to your standards?” implying to my ethical perspective. How do I consider the rightness and wrongness of something? Granted, given a situation like this, it’s fairly easy and obvious.

But still. If given the fact that there was no chance I could get caught, then maybe I would’ve let the lady think she was to blame. I wouldn’t have said anything, actually. She came to her own conclusion and assumed it was her fault. Assumptions are frightening in a time of crisis – she should know better. It was her fault for thinking it was her fault. Whatever the circumstance, it can be twisted and warped into any way that fits my values. I value my freedom, I don’t value her innocence.

I don’t care enough to empathise. She means nothing to me – and will probably never step foot into my peripherals if we hadn’t gotten into this mess. We are two strangers who just so happen to be in the same situation.

As you can see, my morality is not exactly virtuous. I don’t pretend to strive to be utilitarian, because I’m way too selfish for that. My moral conduct is a neutral line divided by the constraints of what society has ruled out for us, and what I personally believe in. Because society already governs the degree of rightness and wrongness. And hey, I adhere to the bare minimum of that.

So to answer the last question; it’s not a matter of how well my decision bodes to my standards, it is only a matter of deciding on an action that which reflects me as a human being with a conscience. I would never have let her take the blame because it was my mistake. My fault, so my responsibility. Someone else will not bear the outcome of a careless mistake that I made, because I can’t live with the psychological consequences otherwise.

In ethics, there is a perspective called Universal Consequentialism; that the consequences of a person’s conduct holds the basis for any judgement on the rightness or wrongness of that conduct (thx wiki). And what I found interesting is that for me, it’s not about eagerly wanting to do the right thing, or having a heart for some total stranger. It’s about avoiding the consequences that I could possibly face should I violate any form of set ethics. Because even though I’m about to face punishment for what I did, my conscience will be clear. I won’t have anymore guilty bones in my body knowing that I’ve spoken the truth – and yes, the truth will ultimately set you free.

But that’s ethics. Ethics and morality are simple enough to follow because it is societal and to a certain extent, governmental. But things like values and principles are a little trickier to discern. You can’t really cop a person out as bad just because their values don’t align with yours, or if their principles are looser than yours.

Assikin brought up a super interesting scenario. She says she’s afraid of going to jail because she claims that every principle she’d set for herself was slowly broken over time. And I can understand how that’s damaging to a person. Maybe not mentally, but the gist of how you tether yourself around life’s precariousness is through your principles.

She’s afraid that because her values now don’t mean as much to her anymore, then what’s to stop her from killing off her morality, one action at a time?

I suppose that’s a radical way of taking the scenario. I don’t think it’s that easy; you’d have to go through a whole lot to get there – but the fear is rational. Having principles keep you grounded and sure of your personal values. If most of them are weak and easily broken, then do you actually know what you want? What you strive for?

This is the part where I struggle the most, too. It’s understandably difficult to find the right balance when it comes to setting your principles.

If you value your relationship with religion, then you won’t drink or have pre-marital sex. But what if this value is less important to you than, say, trying to own a company.

Would this mean that you can set a looser principle for yourself? Say, you’ll only drink until you’re 25 and then stop once you’ve had your fun. Or you’ll only have sex when you’re in a serious relationship – no hookups.

Where do you draw the line? The good news – and also bad news – is that it’s entirely up to you, which makes it a little daunting. But I think over time, the key is to understand yourself first. That sounded way less corny as I’m typing this out but whatever. Anyway, point being – figure your shit out before you decide to do something. If you do decide to drink, figure out where religion stands in your life, figure out the reason why you’d want to start drinking, figure out whether this is long-term or short term, whether you’ll be able to face the guilt of doing something that is clearly forbidden or whether the matter is not as important to you.

If you’ve already thought it through, then by all means.

I mean you don’t have to analyse every decision you make – but it’s good to train your conscience to accept or reject your actions. Because it’s going to be difficult to get out of a rut when you know you fucked up over something. I’d rather not live with that kind of shit.

With all that being said, I think it’s time for me to do some self-reflection. Tonight’s musing: To be or not to be…

 

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He Smiles, Stubborn.

Just once I’d like to go absolutely crazy.

You know, chair-throwing-table-flipping-murder-screaming batshit crazy. We live every day programmed to live seemingly ‘normal’ lives, resulting to taking the piss out of our bosses or our colleagues as a form of release. We’re expected to remain calm in the face of adversity – even when time permits, we should never lose our temper.

“When angry, we lose nothing but ourselves. So get fucking angry” says the writing on the bathroom stall of Merdekarya. What does that feel like? To lose absolute control of ourselves and break away from an otherwise completely mundane lives that never transcend into anything more.

Where is the emotion? We romanticise love, sadness, even the journey to seek tranquility but where is the raw passion? The understated violent currents that run deep within our veins, burning hot and waiting to overflow?

Even then, we seek to find faults in trivial things. We furrow our eyebrows reading the morning paper, then return to our jaded routines.

But being 24, what do I know about being jaded? I can wallow in pensive sadness but rage is never in the picture. People say ‘chill’, as if anger is a discounted feeling only petty, childish people engage in.

Fuck that.

Get fucking angry. Place it atop the values of happiness and peace and whatever other sought out emotions. The world is a multitude of complexity, driven by the power-hungry and greedy hands scrabbling to commandeer our very beings. Take control, leave the notion of helplessness for the sheep waiting to be herded.

Speak your mind, we are the generation of belligerence so act like it.

 

 

Retribution

People inherently exist around you to realise your own sense of self.

I’m back in college.

Initially, I came in strong, almost too strong. In the first few weeks my desperate desire to establish my superiority has somehow backfired – emotionally – and I suddenly developed an ego complex. Everything was easy, except for the socialising part. People were young, new, impressionable – and I wanted to make an impression. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a small part of me that wished I was revered by my peers because I’m a person who naturally fucking loves attention, but doesn’t necessarily goes out to seek it. It’s a thrill I’ve learned over the past few years; attention is frighteningly entertaining.

But as quickly the desire came, it managed to singe a hole into my brain. My desperation isn’t apparent through the eyes of everyone else (or I hoped to God it wasn’t) but to me, I felt shitty that this was something I was fussing about. I didn’t want something like that to be my goal because it was completely unrelated to the primary reason of me being back in college. My purpose was to get an education, a proper one, and understand what I wanted to do later on in life – or at least have an inkling as to what I wanted to major in and make a career out of, yknow? Everything else is secondary.

I got sidetracked for the first month, driven by the desire to be accepted by these children, to have this huge gang I could hang out with every day – and you know what, a part of me really fucking did wish I could have that because I never had that in school. SAE was a little bit different, considering we were all too small to have cliques and by default, had to hang out with each other. But that was a dream that 16 year-old me wanted, and me 8 years later, can finally be mature enough to tell her it’s alright if you don’t have that. It’s completely alright. You’re not missing out on anything.

But I caught on to the fact that I still, until now, remain mesmerised by the glitter so much so my eyes are blinded by the possibility that I might become ‘popular’ instead of focusing on the matter at hand.

My perspectives quickly changed after that, and it’s continuing to change over time. I think coming into college with much more experience has helped me tremendously in realising my goals, my aim and determination to do the best I can, and be the best version of myself.

I’m at a weird, weird part of my life right now where some of my unresolved issues are slowly coming to light and it feels like I’m heading towards these battles with a fucktonne of ammo after swallowing 13000 books and, like, the least care in the world about what everyone else’s strategies are. Ultimately, that’s my aim, right there. To do things I’ve wanted to do. Seize opportunities I could never have dared to do a few years back. This is my retribution, and finally, God, finally, it feels good to be able to know I’m achieving things. Not that I haven’t before, but I’m accepting everything I do with open arms and the pressure of making a mistake seems like such a dumb thing now. Achievements mean a little bit more to me now because I’ve actually put effort and passion in them.

Some people are late bloomers, I guess. I’m fine with that. Maybe people are running already by the time I learn to walk but that’s really, completely okay. I’m out here enjoying the process either way.

Outside The Window

The weather has been temperamental.

Outside my open window, I felt the breeze of an oncoming downpour, which has been a ritual now for several days. The clock marks 1.47 am, a peculiar time to be awake but when the world quietly rests, I like to have my eyes wide open. Sometimes it gets lonely, and the only accompaniment I have are low rumbles of household machinery, and songs of the crickets. If I peer through the cracks of my uplifted panes, I can see other tiny windows with the lights off, and the comfortable silence only invites a peaceful rest.

The wind was heady and thick that night from the humidity. There has never been a day when the sun hasn’t shone, and the air doesn’t suffocate inhabitants under the torrid zone. Every night at exactly half-past joint, no matter the weather, the air always seemed cooler and more bearable – tonight especially.

I’ve always wished I could live in constant 20 degrees with air so crisp your nose tingles every time you inhale. But London 2016 wasn’t very kind, even during the spring; sunshine wasn’t present, and the breeze cut through my gloves easily. Maybe it’s a little too far-fetched. Maybe I loved my weather too much to make that leap.

Sometimes when my neighbour switches on the lights, I see a tiny old lady with white hair hobbling to the fridge easily twice her size reaching for some cold water. The dreary activities of one when observed by another welcomes imagination – and I find myself constructing a whole life for this woman. Perhaps she lives alone because her husband passed away. Perhaps he died from tending to their garden one day. Their Iron Cross begonias always did thrive, and bloomed beautifully – even despite his absence. Her habits remind me of To’ Mi, my late grandmother.

She used to say that weather determines her mood, because it determines the health of her orchids. Orchids are notorious for being as temperamental as the slightest touch from the wrong hands can potentially wilt them. Some days they flaunt their colours, other days they dull and shy away from onlookers but they still live knowing someone is there to care for them.

Yes, perhaps I’ve grown fond of the weather over the years. 2 a.m reveries wouldn’t be as wistful under harsh winters and outside, people wouldn’t be so kind to offer a hand when they can’t even feel theirs.

At least, to me. Because there is no other place I can rest, I can feel familiarity, than outside my open window.

 

 

Asceticism

If the multiverse theory is true, I would want one of me in a parallel universe to be born a Cynic.

A Cynic’s principle is simple; to achieve happiness through the barest means. Free from the shackles of worldly desires, and remain unfazed by the vicissitudes of life.

They live life in accordance to nature – from where you come, you live.

Introspectively, that would be the most ideal.

My friend once said if you had 24 hours to pack and leave, the most you would need is one suitcase… and a half; because that is all you need to survive while still retaining some sense of self. Perhaps a favourite book, or photos of you and your loved ones.

Lately I’ve been picking at myself a bit more. What are my habits?

Excessive spending. That beautiful basic black top, I must have. Even though mummy complains I have too many already. At least two a month. Socks. Socks?! I could wear socks if they were fluffy and soft enough – and look, it’s in powder pink, and on sale. I could wear pink if they were… powdery in colour.

There is always a reason to every purchase. Reasons soon turn to excuses. Excuses then abandoned as my futile attempts are replaced with defeated acceptance.

Good food. Oh, gluttony is always my favourite deadly sin. Today I spent RM12 on rice and chicken. Tomorrow I think I’ll eat noodles with dumplings. Perhaps later in the week, a plate of beautiful crispy chicken rice. I love chicken. Can’t live without it, really.

There is always a reason. An excuse. The thought of buying something with my own money excites me. I earned this, I should be able to do whatever I want with it. Who’s to tell me I can’t? This is mine. I earned this, I should be able to do whatever I want…

Pity my excitement lasts for a fraction of a second before I slip back into familiarity. My laptop to write, my kaftan, sketch book and a pencil, a good book. Where are those socks, again?

The Swedes are doing it right. Lagom, meaning ‘adequate’ or ‘just the right amount’ is a lifestyle promoting sustainability and discards excessive consumerism.

Diogenes – the founding father of Cynicism – took it to a more extreme level when he lived in a tub on the streets of Athens his whole life after being exiled from his birthplace. He criticised everyone’s social conventions and makes poverty a virtue. He tells them that it is the privilege of gods to want nothing, and godlike men to want little.

Granted, the man lived in a tub and ate on the streets.

It’s funny how we were all born with nothing once upon a time, and suddenly underwent a paradigm shift. Now everyone’s looking for more money, more things to make ourselves feel better, even for just a fraction of a second.

And… perhaps this is the part where I criticise myself, but I know that we’d all prefer the distraction. Perhaps to dull ourselves, numb our senses, keep us passive and obedient. Spruce the fluff, they say. Keep us warm and toasty.

I think to myself; Girl. You’re still so young, but not young enough to excuse yourself from this. Live within your means. Achieve wholesomeness not through materialistic crap that only serves as a brief mood lifter, but through things that serve a purpose to you. Stop getting distracted by the glitter and gold; they are worth next to nothing.

He has the most who is the most content with the least.

Tonight’s musing: Time to declutter.

 

 

MARET

Happy March!

It’s been a while. I am procrastinating as usual. I was supposed to come up with two campaign ideas for a client tomorrow and so far I’m one-and-a-half away from completion. To be fair, I spent the whole of yesterday in bed because I had the flu so that was one day…. burnt….

Anyway.

This was what I ended up doing today:

  • Bought breakfast
  • Watched 6 episodes of Jane the Virgin
  • Went to get my glasses done
  • Binged on a bunch of YouTube videos (I can vouch that this was to crank up ideas)
  • Read my old (and I mean really old) blog posts while eating tacos.

 

It’s fine. After this post I’m going straight to planning my week. A habit I’m training myself to do so as to decrease the anxiety leering around the corner. Not today, nerve satans.

But anyway, here is a recap of what has happened so far:

  • To’ Bah’s wedding was a success (yikes)
  • Adele gave birth to four adorable kittens
  • I’ve submitted my resignation letter last Wednesday
  • Had a few job offers come in soon after

 

Yesterday was Mummy’s 53rd and she is still as young as ever. Ummi surprised her during breakfast with Shakoli and a brownie cake*. Speaking of, Shakoli is growing up so beautifully. She has approximately 6 teeth (4 on top and 2 at the bottom) and has developed a habit of biting people now. I’ve suffered the wrath of her bite once, and I’m making a mental note to tread carefully around her face for the time being. She has also reached a whopping 12.3kg in just 11 months; Assikin refers to her as my ‘Chub Squister’ and I can’t argue with that, it’s pretty apt.

On the 7th will be arwah To’ Mi’s birthday. My plans to take off and visit her grave has to be put on hold for now, because of how messy everything is at work what with the resignation, and the extension…. I’m just having a difficult time grasping things and sorting them out properly. But I digress.

Oh – wait, I guess that’s it.

Tonight’s musing: sleep is for the weak.

*Brownie Cake (.n): A towering stack of brownies generously layered with Kinder bites and strawberries, drizzled lavishly with chocolate syrup and caramel sauce.