Ethics: My Personal Code for Living

by Sarah Skran

Many people in my school choose to live their lives using the ethics of hedonism. This is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. In other words, pleasure is the highest good. What some people do to follow hedonism is they immerse themselves in pleasures where their primary goal is to erase pain. All these things will eliminate their pain at least for a short amount of time and thus allow them to live life only for pleasure. Pleasure, while I feel it is good to have sometimes, should not be our highest value. Some things when used/done in moderation can help with the pains of life but should not be done 100% of the time to completely eliminate pain. People who feel they must do these things all the time tend to feel that, if they were to die tomorrow, that because they will only live once, why not live life by 100% pleasure and 0% pain? In response to this I interpret the meaning of life in a different way.

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I think Judaism teaches us that by having only one life to live you should live it the way you would do if you knew you were to live forever. Another way of saying that is to do what you need to do to succeed in life, even if pain sometimes has to be endured. By eliminating all pain we don’t live to our full potential and we waste our valuable life away, and develop it in a shallow way leading us to do foolish things that do not help us to live a life we would be proud to have lived. To sum up, to me life isn’t about eliminating pain, instead it’s about enduring it and living through it.

Moving on, I would also like to stress another important topic: equality, both in schools and in other settings as well. Many times only the “elite” are valued and all others are treated unfairly, their ideas are trashed and looked down upon. Other non-elite people might have something important to say but no one would know or bother to care because they’re not “special” like certain other people. Many times the “elite” are only considered special because of their parents or other family members who are somehow personal friends with someone teaching their son/daughter and thus the son/daughter gets special privileges compared to the other students. They don’t get in trouble for things they should be punished for and they get to skip class more than everyone else. This is wrong and I believe as someone not often considered elite that respect for all individuals should be the rule. All have a right to speak and be recognized. All of us should be able to contribute in society (and school) without being looked down upon because of where we come from or who we are; No one is worthless. Judaism says we are all equal in God’s eyes and I wish that could be true and instituted throughout all places of work and education. Full social equality is hardly ever found but I hope we could work more towards it rather than against it.