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Ethics of Growing Up

When I am in a group setting I am constantly surrounded diverse people. I believe that my value system (that is, my personal ethics) is reflected in the company I keep. I believe that segregation is about division, and so to counteract that policy I have a diverse group of friends or acquaintances. The paradigm of the American culture is swiftly changing so that all-white schools are not the dominant school anymore. America is a melting pot: its incorporations of religions, and races is becoming so vast that social groups are reflecting this broadening.

It is becoming increasingly easier to design one’s social, business, and personal group with a myriad of races, and religions. It is this diversity which allows for broader ethical realization in everyday decision. To me, ethics and diversity are terms which define each other. In this essay I will discuss my personal ethics and how being involved in a diverse group gives me strong ethics. My diverse group consists of African Americans, Indians, Hispanics, Caucasians, Chinese, etc. It seems that it runs the breadth of an international convention.

This seems to be no distinct quality as when I look around at other cliques their diversity is also prevalent. When I do see a group of people who are strictly of one race it gives me pause. It makes me believe that they are narrow in their selection of friends and acquaintances, and thus, their ethics suffer – for doesn’t a limitation of one lead to a limitation of the other? There have been studies that state that people subconsciously surround themselves with people who look like them, have the same facial features, etc. Since reading this study I have found that in some instances this is true.

A lot of races tend to stay within their own culture’s group. When one chooses only to stay in their culture or race group then they are maintaining only that cultures’ set of values, mores and ethics. When a more diverse group is included in one’s everyday decisions, one may have a pool of ethics, or stronger morality by which to guide their decisions (Cahn 20). It is important to me that I be with a diverse group and not judge people or filter them-I think that being a part of a diverse group allows me to not judge people (a very ethical right decision).

People might feel safer if they stay within their own race’s group, or they might feel as though they are better understood or even that to stay within one’s own culture is for the sake of communication so that no dialogue is lost in translation. This is narrow minded thinking – this is a bad ethical choice. If a person is constantly surrounded by a group of people who think the same way as they do – who maintain a set of ethics differently – they are not being challenged in their belief system.

This I believe is dangerous. I spend my time with a diverse group of people because I know they will challenge my mores and beliefs, and in the end of my decision making process, I will have tested many different ethic systems and come to the right one. I do not want to be someone who lives on a single definition or interpretation. I like to have a myriad of view points, the contrary discussions that arise with a diverse group aid in my broadening my ethics. I gain a better understanding of culture and ethics in this way.

Being in a diverse group is important to me because it challenges me to think in a different perspective. An individual can influence another person’s behavior and under this statement I find that it is true that I in turn place my values and ethics upon the group. One such example of this is when we all go out to eat and I leave a large tip. Other people in the group protest this fact but I try to influence them. I grew up with people who hard to work very hard for their money, a lot of times in the service department.

I am especially keen on leaving more than a 15% tip whenever I have the money to do so. Other people in the group do not like to leave tips or leave a very meager tip. We then have debates about the amount that should be left and whether or not the waiter/waitress deserves a tip. I always say it does not always matter if they deserve a tip but that they work, in the places that my group and I eat, for two dollars and some change per hour. They make their living off of tips.

A lot of the people in the group argue that the country needs to change their policy about the wages these people earn and it is therefore not their sole responsibility. My argument is based on the culture in which I grew up just as their culture reflects something different. The ethics in this discussion are always widely discussed and sometimes I am able to influence my friends’ ethical behavior. The lines of communication in my diverse group are also sometimes lost in translation.

Although most of us speak the same language I increasingly find that in a diverse group of people cultural words are constantly introduced that no one knows the meaning. Since this group of people is large and represents many different cultures and races the debates on these new words are very intense. It is part of the reason I surround myself with diverse people, to gain a broader experience about cultures and to immerse myself in anther person’s identity as it relates to that culture.

We all argue, we debate we introduce new ideas and explain their significance to our culture and our family background despite our language barrier at times. These discussions get very intense and very personal, but they in the end help explain something of that person. I have become very adaptive because of my exposure to these people and their cultures as reflected by them. In turn my ethics have expanded as I am able to argue and be corrected and gain new perspectives on different subjects and ideas.

Some of the people in the group did not believe that racism was still a large part of the country’s psyche and that even in proper establishments the service people, the owner or different patrons in the place will make this known vocally or with their body language. It is important that I am a part of a diverse group because it allows some of my own prejudices to be examined ( I cannot tolerate racism in others, and have made extremely bad ethical choices in regards to this – I have even been thrown out of places because I voice my ethics so strongly). As Sigmund Freud states,

A great many people cannot overcome the fear of loss of love; they never become independent enough of the love of other people and continue their infantile behavior in this respect…There is no doubt that persons whom we call neurotic remain infantile in their attitude towards danger, and have not grown out of antiquated conditions of anxiety. (122,123) This means that these racist people fear too much and it is out of that fear that their anger and racism come, and their lack of ethics. My own judgments on people are very much under the lime light when the group has one of their open discussions.

They say I need to tolerate people, even other people’s ignorance. I say, sometimes talk is cheap and I just lose control of myself when someone calls a friend of mine by a derogatory term. It is one of our main ethical discussions. There is plenty of room for self analyses when one is incorporated into a diverse group. I try to embrace all cultures, walks of life and ways of thinking, but I cannot stand if someone else is not open, if they insist in maintaining their own prejudices. A group of diverse people is a type of international embracing.

My past is immersed in a far different tradition than anyone else’s past just as their heritage is different from me. By being involved in a diverse group I feel as though I am preserving the past, or my past and my own set of ethics. By having an open discussion in the group there is no need to lie, to cover up some sordid detail of a story. There is complete honesty and through this honesty the diversity of the group becomes based more on ethics. Not only do I immerse myself in this one particular group of many diverse people but I also travel between diverse groups.

In my neighborhood growing up I had the unique opportunity to be surrounded by many different ethnicities. As a child the neighborhood used to tease my friends that we were the UN summit. It is due to this childhood diversity that I now feel comfortable among different groups of people, in fact it is more comfortable for me since that is what I am used to being surrounded by, and as Ritzer states, “A thinking, self-conscious individual is…logically impossible in Mead’s theory without a prior social group.

The social group comes first, and it leads to the development of self-conscious mental states”. (Ritzer 207) Ethics is important to me because it shows the nation’s progress in relation to prejudice. America is a representation of the world when it comes to race, gender, religion, ethnicity, etc. By interacting in diverse groups I am furthering the sentiment that America is about tolerance, that American has a strong belief in ethics.

I immerse myself in different diverse groups so that I will not have a mindset of judgment about a person. I do not want to instigate prejudice nor is it my intention to be racists and if I limit myself to one group of individuals then I in turn have shown a narrow minded way of thinking, in essence, bad ethical behavior (Johnson 1986). I do not believe that people should base their group friends one some prefabricated notion that a person from one’s own culture will be easier to talk with.

Albeit, it is true that people from the same culture share similar childhoods and know first hand how people from the same culture grew up and thus have a better understanding to that person’s identity and impetus for actions, but this is a very limited way of thinking. The point of diverse groups is about being challenged. I would not want to be surrounded by people who support every thought or opinion I have because there can be no room for growth in my ethics in this capacity. A person cannot expand their knowledge nor their acceptance in a vacuum.

Being surrounded by people of my own ethnicity, culture or religion is supporting and sometimes I need to be supported or understood, but that does not mean that I want to continue to have the same opinions and ethics for the rest of my life. Life is about expansion, of broadening and that is why it is important for me to be involved in diverse groups who either challenge my ethics or allow me to think about where my childhood ethics are rooted in. I do not want to limit myself or my life experience by maintaining unchallenged ethics and mores.

I find that more and more I am drawn to diverse groups because they are accepting and help me to in some ways find my identity. References Cahn, Steve. (2008). Ethics: History, Theory and Contemporary Issues. Oxford University Press. England. Johnson, David W. et al. (1986). “Circles of Learning: Cooperation in the Classroom. ” Interaction. New York. Ritzer, George. (2000). Modern Sociological Theory. Boston: McGraw-Hill Co. , Inc. Sigmund, Freud. (1933). New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (W. J. H. Sprott, Trans. ). New York: W. W. Norton & Company, INC.

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