Ethics – My Personal Code for Living
My code for ethics is very simple. Don’t get in other people’s business, don’t do anything to take advantage of someone and don’t do anything that will harm my future. I am a libertarian so I believe that I have no right to dictate others. If someone does something that some people will constitute as morally wrong, I will not try to stop them or try to talk them out of it because I have no business doing so.
Ethics is completely subjective and is shaped by society. The court of public opinion, the media, religion and law shape people’s ethics. In the Torah, ethics are the law. To be ethical you must follow the 613 commandments. If you want to make sure you are always ethical, you can believe in the “fence around the Torah” theory, which is the theory that you cannot do anything that is close to breaking a commandment. For example, you shall not bathe a mother in its child’s milk is a commonly known commandment. Many people do not eat chicken parmesan because of this rule, even though chickens don’t produce milk. The reason is because you can mistake the chicken accidently for a different type of meat and have inadvertently sinned.
In every society, the law is below the ethical standards of a human. In America, you are legally allowed to say whatever you want to say as long as it doesn’t instigate direct violence toward others. You are legally allowed to be a racist activist and a misogynist, however most of society looks down upon racists. This is where ethics come into play.
As I have said, I am strongly against doing something to dictate others. I have this position because I believe that the greatest gift of being a human is free will. Everyone has the ability to perform their own actions; it is not my place to dictate their actions. If someone makes a poor choice they need to live out the consequences of their mistake. I do not believe that people are entitled to charity for poor decision making; if someone suffers from a tragedy they deserve charity, however if someone makes a mistake they do not.
My ethics come mainly from Judaism and the media. For me personally, I do not care for the court of public opinion when pertaining to ethics. I will say and do as I personally believe and I will not have anyone try to dictate my actions. I do not follow many of the commandments, however I have learned from the Torah interesting ideas and philosophies. I believe that God did not make stupid rules, every rule has a purpose. I do not hold true to many of these rules, but I understand the purpose of them.
The Torah has taught me Tikkun Olam, or to repair the world. It taught me that anyone can make the world a better place, they just need to try. In order to repair the world, I do charity work and give tzedakah. I don’t think that this is just a good thing to do; I believe it is the right thing to do. You cannot repair the world without giving your own time and money into the cause. In addition to Tikkun Olam, the Torah also taught me that holding a grudge is wrong. The Torah says that as long as someone asks for forgiveness you should give it to them. I find this very interesting because most religions or philosophies believe in “an eye for an eye” or a form of that. I believe that if someone has made a mistake and tries their hardest to make things right, they deserve to be forgiven.
I strongly disagree with some of the rules in the Torah. For example, the Torah says “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman’”. I am a supporter of LGBTQ rights and I believe that it is unethical to say that a gay man cannot be with another gay man. However, I understand why this is in the Torah. It is in the Torah because God believed that when a man has sex he becomes the owner of whom ever he had sex with. Other than to produce offspring, sex was used to show power for men and it was meant for pleasure for women. I know this because the rule specifically cites “a man with another man” which means a woman is free to sleep with another woman. Also in the Torah, it says the only reason a woman may divorce a man is if he is not pleasuring her enough. I disagree with the Torah in this instance because Torah is promoting that marriage is meant to be a man dominating and owning a woman, instead of it being an agreement between two people who love each other.
There are other parts of the Torah with which I disagree such as many other sections of Leviticus. As a Reform Jew, I am able to argue with the Torah and only take the ethical parts out of it.