THE MORAL COMPASS: HONESTY, INTEGRITY, FIDELITY, AND ETHICAL BEHAVIOR
A moral compass guides the actions people choose and is based on meeting the needs of the greater good. One aspect of the moral compass ishonesty. An example of a wavering moral compass was seen with Lance Armstrong, who started his professional cycling career in 1992. In 1996, he was diagnosed with cancer from which he recovered. When he returned to his career in 1998, he had the support of legions of fans who admired his spirit. However, in 2012, as a result of doping charges (which he initially denied), he was banned from the sport. Armstrong justified his usage by stating others were doing the same thing.
A different scenario occurred with golfer Brian Davis. In a championship game, he called a penalty on himself. Since the official did not see Davis’s error, they watched the action in a slow-motion replay, which revealed it. Although his honesty cost him the game, his demonstration of integrityearned him the respect of colleagues and fans.
Fidelity describes people who demonstrate faithfulness. In May 2013, Edward Snowden leaked top-secret papers about Internet-surveillance programs. Some felt his actions were wrong. He defended himself by stating his intent was right because he wanted to inform the public about questionable actions of the government. The answer to whether he acted with fidelity depends on who is asked.
George Everly Sr.’s family came to America in the late 1600s and farmed for 300 years. Although farming was a long tradition in his family, he chose to attend college and join the Army. When he spoke of his service in WWII, he focused on duty and camaraderie rather than the stories of destruction that are inherent in any war. When he was offered a D-Day medal in 1994, he was reluctant to accept it because he was simply doing what he said he would do, being guided by his moral compass. This is a sharp contrast to today’s modern world, where many people expect a trophy just for showing up.
Ethical behavior is demonstrated by people who do the right thing. It is a natural response for those who operate with honesty, integrity, and fidelity. Tylenol demonstrated ethical behavior in 1982, after seven people died from taking their capsules. When it was revealed that those tablets were laced with cyanide, Tylenol recalled all the products still on the market. They also implemented tamper-resistant packaging to prevent this from occurring again. Although the financial costs were huge, Tylenol become known as an ethical brand.
People who are not comfortable with their past actions can form a new moral compass by:
*Believing in themselves. People must realize that they can act with a moral compass. When they make an effort, they will eventually find that honesty and integrity become intrinsically rewarding. When reward results from an action, it increases the likelihood of that action occurring again.
*Surrounding themselves with people who operate with honesty and integrity. Individuals who operate with a moral compass encourage others to do the same. Spending time with such people makes it natural for all members of the group to operate with a moral compass.
*Receiving encouragement and support from others. A peer group is important beyond the teenage years and needs to be composed of quality people.
*Learning to manage impulsive behaviors. This helps people develop a better sense of control and reinforces the positive actions they are capable of. Small successes helps people believe they can have even more success.