We discussed the issue of ethics. Oh sure, it might seem like a very simple thing, but it's rather difficult to define what exactly ethics are. My professor explained it through this quote- “To be ethical is profitable, but to be ethical because it is profitable is not ethical. And, one might
add, it is also not profitable in the long run.” This got me thinking. It is definitely profitable to be ethical, at least in the long run. Think of goodwill, business reputation, support of stakeholders, responsible corporate citizenship and so on. At the same time, the firm might lose lucrative opportunities in the short run. Does it mean that the firm should be ethical only because it might be beneficial sometime later? Doesn't being ethical lose its meaning as a whole then, because it is just done for profits? As I thought about this later, I compared the situation to telling lies. As a child, I've been taught not to tell lies, because apparently, God would punish me. A little digression here might help me bring my point clearer.
A long time ago, my parents decided to take me on a pilgrimage to Tirupati. We travelled from Coimbatore to a town called Chitoor, in Andhra Pradesh, just across the border from Tamil Nadu. There, we met a friend of my parents' (whom I fondly used to refer to as Chitoor amooma) and she was to take us to the temple town. On the way, we stopped by at a temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Apparently, this temple is special- Chitoor amooma explained to us that the moorthy in the temple is an upholder of truth. Nobody can speak a lie in the vicinity of that temple. However one tries, it is simply impossible to speak anything contrary to the truth. As a result, all disputes were settled there, since it was believed that God himself forces the 'sinner' to voluntarily reveal the truth. I was just around six or seven at that time, but that day is crystal clear in my mind's eye. (A couple of months ago, back in Dubai, I was discussing special temples with my aunt Jayshree, and the memories came flooding back.)
Anyway, one can always argue about how to be sure that only the truth was revealed, or whether it is even possible to contemplate how God can force the truth out of any person. But that is not the point of this post. In my opinion, it all boils down to ones belief. The faith that God will forgive you if you speak the truth. Or the fear that God will punish you if you don't. My question is, would people still speak the truth, even if there is no God to punish or reward us? Would we still try to help people? Would we still be good human beings? Would we be tempted to steal, cheat, deceive? Would we still be able to face our inner conscience? Not because there is heaven or hell awaiting us, not out of faith or fear, not because of rewards or retribution; simply because that's the right thing to do. If yes, then there is still hope!
Amooma is a Malayalam term, meaning grandmother.
Moorthy is a Sanskrit term used to refer to the image of the Lord.