Personal Ethics

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balance scale

Many folks know me as a very principled individual. While sometimes to my own detriment, I can usually say that I have well-formed and consistent values and principles which I try my very best to uphold. That does not mean I’m perfect, I make errors too, but for the large part actions and principles are aligned and consistent.  Which is good, because I absolutely hate hypocrites and couldn’t stand myself if I were one.

When I recently published my policy of ethics, I received an interesting array of responses.  Some were very supportive, most notably survivors of serious consent violations including sexual assault and rape. Overall there was awkward silence, with a few private communications that quietly applauded the announcement – likely because the northeast & mid-Atlantic “community” is still reeling from recent events that sent shock-waves through a variety of organizations.  Others, however, seemed to take personal affront.

Let me be clear, the practices I put into the policy are those I’ve always held – I just did it through decision and action versus statement. I found, however, that without such a blanket policy in place there were situations that could compromise my principles or otherwise setup a conflict between my commitment to educating the community, the message within my content, and supporting groups or organizations which I did not believe was being consistently ethical or mishandled delicate situations.

  • Rule One – when you see an opportunity to learn from others mistakes, act on it to prevent the same mistake.
  • Rule Two – when you realize an error you have made either by action or omission, learn from it and act accordingly.

Despite clearly articulating that my ethical policy stands as final, and discussion to mitigate or compromise it is my “Hard Limit”, I still had invites to talk it over.  When I declined, my involvement with those groups were canceled.   I found this most disappointing, but not necessarily surprising…

I often see examples of those that preach good practices, like always respecting someone’s limits, only to ignore such values when it doesn’t serve their interests or desires.  This is a problem that is a challenge with the human condition overall – to balance desire with internal beliefs and external appearances. However, when the gap is significant, I more often see folks forgoing the high-road for personal gains be they material or social.  So I caution you dear reader to consider the actions of others as a greater indication of their values than any espoused. Choices and actions are what make for consequences, and choices which can be looked at as self-service, unethical, manipulative or otherwise toxic should be seen as such.

Personally, I’m much more focused on my internal values that any external appearances or normative expectations – and completely predictable for an INTJ type.  Ultimately, the only thing you have is yourself – and if you can’t look at yourself in the mirror, then why bother?


“People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them.”
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change; Stephen R. Covey