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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Ethics: Are You an Asset or a Liability?

Plato tells a story known as the ring of Gyges about a shepherd who, after an earthquake, finds a hole with a bronze horse inside. Inside the horse, he finds a ring. The shepherd takes the ring and later discovers that it makes him invisible. While no one can see him, he seduces the king’s wife, kills the king, and takes his place on the throne all without anyone knowing he is the one responsible. Glaucon, who is telling this story to Socrates, goes on to say that if an unjust man and a just man were both given rings of invisibility they would act identically. They would both use the ring to gain money, power, and status, no matter the cost to other people. The two go on to debate this topic for quite some time. Is it worth it to live an honest and good life when people who lie and cheat may have an easier one?

I’d like to believe that a fair number of people in this world would not do horrible things to others to gain love, power, etc. even if they could do so anonymously. Then again, I know there are people in this world who have done that, are doing it, and will continue to do it and still be well-liked by others. I’ve always had a very strong moral compass, and by that, I mean I’ve always felt horrible when I’ve done something bad, whether I got away with it or not. When I was six, I was shopping with my mom and put lip gloss in my pocket to ask her if we could get it later. I forgot about it, and when I got home I discovered I still had it and cried for hours.

From the time we’re very young, till the day we are considered trustworthy, we are taught that it’s wrong to steal, lie, cheat, and intentionally do something that will hurt someone else. Of course, there are many ways to rationalize doing bad things, but, in some way or another, those bad things which may be helping you end up hurting other people. That’s just wrong.

Contrary to what Glaucon may suggest, there are no people in the world who are completely just or completely unjust. We all make mistakes, but we all have the ability to right our wrongs and learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. It is up to us as individuals to decide as early as can whether we want to help or hurt, to be fair or to be selfish, to be an asset or a liability.

Once I made the decision never to harm anyone else for my personal gain, I knew that becoming a good accountant one day would be much easier and more rewarding. One of my biggest goals in life is to be someone who can be trusted by everyone around me, whether it be my employers, investors, or fellow employees. Having a strong work ethic, doing what is right: that’s what is most important.

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