Recently, a conversation with a friend, made me actually ask myself this question. Why be ethical? I replied, ” To be fair and square, to be a better person. ” And then he asked me, “What’s in it for you? If something fulfils your tangible desires, and made you happy, why worry about how other people percieve you as good or bad?” And all I could say was, “To have a clear conscious, to be able to look into my own eyes in the mirror. I wasn’t satisfied with my own answers.
Although I knew the answer at the back of my mind, it did not surface until a recent motivational speech by my favourite actor. Shahrukh Khan. Katy Perry, in her music video, “Wide awake”, had also vaguely displayed this concept. So here it goes:
We are all born innocent. A part of us is pure, untouched by the harsh reality.This part does not ask many questions and naturally, takes the most simple, basic, logical actions. Does not think that the money we lend a friend, may never be returned, does not think twice before trusting a smile, does not second judge a judgement. Looks for goodness in everything, everyone. This part of us easily falls in love, thinks that other people will own up to their responsibilities, recognition will come without “Selling themselves”. This part will alway play a competition fair. And last but not least, this part of us, every one of us loose track of, at some or other point of our lives. This part is the purest part of ourselves, we often refer as “Innocence” and is often completely helpless.
Reality is such that, it is impossible to retain innocence; and I feel we loose it multiple times in our lives. As a kid, I remember wanting to be within the popular circle at school, but never quite making it to their criteria. The realisation that I have to “pretend” to be cool was a loss of innocence. As an adult, the realisation that to survive in this world, I have to bury the naive, innocent girl to appear a strong independant woman was another loss of innocence.
Shahrukh’s speech mentioned about a simple part of himself, sits amongst the audience, criticises him when necessary, praises him when necessary and shields him from the harsh judgemental world. His concept of self.
So turning back to my friend’s question, “What’s in it for me? ” And the answer that satisfies me is: I want to be able to explain my simple self – my decisions don’t cause harm to other people, don’t break a heart; I want the child in me to trust in the person I have become, that I’d pick up an injured cat and take it to shelter without thinking of any benefits, and only as a gesture for humanity. I’d raise a voice against mistreatment and violence, I will not tolerate inequality and discrimination, I will not seek revenge but put my efforts to make my-self a better person. I will smile and laugh and appreciate love. And I will do all these to make the one innocent, simple, pure person sitting and watching my life, smiling at me and reassuring me that they still exist. The truth is, the innocent, pure person sitting and watching my life like an audience, is completely helpless. It is upto the person I have become and the principles of my ethics to make sure they still exist. To make sure, innocence is not completely lost.