A couple of summers ago I was borrowing my brother-in-law’s car until I saved up enough money to buy my own. I had just moved back to the state and was thankful for all the help I could get, although this car was in rough shape. In a matter of three months it had left me stranded multiple times and made the most horrific noises while driving down the road. The last straw was on a day I was attempting to turn left through oncoming traffic and the car died in the middle of the intersection. I was yielding to oncoming cars and saw that there were two more to pass before I could make my turn. The moment came, I gave it gas, and in the middle of my turn (in the middle of oncoming traffic lanes) the car DIED. I instantly panicked and waved my arms, honked my horn, put my flashers on, and got out of my car. There were multiple vehicles around, one directly behind me with two teenage boys (who could have easily jumped out and helped) but who instead rolled down their window and asked if they could drive around me…. Multiple other cars passed and made rude faces at me, swerved around my dead car, and just kept speeding away. Here I was just trying to push my car through the intersection and wondering what happened to society and how rude people can be – and then this suburban across the intersection stops and five kids coming running out of it. KIDS. None of them could have been older than 12 years old and they came running and screaming about wanting to help me get my car off the road. Between them and myself we got the car through the intersection and off to the side of the road. Before I could express my gratitude to the kids and the adult driving them they were gone. I was so relieved to see and experience that others too act on good will and just want to help others in a time of need. Kant’s good will theory I would have to say is what those kids and their driver acted with that day. And I know that I, too, reciprocate those actions to others when I see someone else in a time of need.
How do we develop our ethics? What are the primary sources for us to develop our ethical position?
Developing our ethics is something we are taught originally and over our lives they’re something we refocus based on life events. As children we develop our ethics on mostly what our parent’s ethics are and what they teach us is “right” or “wrong”. At a young age our ethics mimic those of our parents, grandparents, older siblings, in some cases our teachers or any other care givers. As kids we didn’t really understand what our own ethics were, we just knew what we were taught and what actions towards others made us feel good or bad inside. Ethics at a young age are some of the most important distilled behaviors because they’re mostly focused on how to treat other people, how to react to specific situations that could be harmful, and learning how to coupe in difficult times without sabotaging. That sounds intense, but as kids those behaviors are geared towards having friends on the play ground, learning to lose in a youth sport, and dealing with bullies. As adults those basic ethics learned are still just as important but sometimes their contexts change. A person’s ethical position typically changes or grows in different areas depending on experiences they have gone through in life personally or have witnessed a loved on go through.