Many people are arrested every day; however there are many prisoners behind bars for the right reason, depending if it’s the government’s view or the public’s. An online dictionary (Dictionary.com) defines ethics as being the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.; or a system of moral principles. While it’s easy to know that there is a right to do, it’s hard to know what is right to do. Potter Stewart (Associate Justice of the United Stated Supreme Court) proclaimed “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.”, which can be proven by investigating the government today, other governments and laws, and whom exactly the discussion is talking to.
When the nation’s Founding Fathers drafted and published the Constitution of the United States, they planned for a land run by the people, for the people. Their original plans have been soiled and twisted, and the corruption has spread to the very foundation of what is called a government. Martin Luther King Jr. stated (in a letter written while he was in Birmingham Jail) “One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."” It seems the people making new laws, (and judging whether or not there is a right to do something) are withholding information, money, and their own moral dignity from the publics they administer. Many government officials have been tried and convicted for many frauds, while condemning other individuals for similar offenses. The government we see today is practically two-faced, and elections today are just a popularity scheme to gain the most money for the organization or area the particular politician wants. The decline in morals for the United States’ leaders is setting a horrid example for how the nation’s people are supposed to live, think, and act.
Since America is a very developed, well-rounded nation, many other countries follow its influence. After the American Revolution, France and Europe revolted as well as many other European countries. The system of government hasn’t reached many foreign shores yet, though. For example, Great Britain still uses their House of Parliament, and there are many dictatorships and communist countries. The United States have many processes and steps to go through before anything can be passed, while other countries’ leaders can just order something and the next second it would be official. There is a big difference in the laws and privileges, but a person’s principles will stay the same. For instance, in April, 2004, the Iraqi government began taking civilian hostages in Iraq. The captives come from many places, ranging from China to the United States, and many have already been killed, and few have escaped. Though for some reason they feel that they have the right to do this, it is hard to believe that anyone would find it right.
Before the sixteenth century, societies would listen to whatever the government, religious leaders, or the public would tell them. Nowadays, persons are still influenced by the media and other leaders, but most resort to what their minds and hearts tell them. Everything in the world can be made into something totally different if a person wishes to do so. “It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.” A very famous Walt Disney once said, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” Many different things can influence how someone thinks and sees things, and whether or not they judge it as right. Religions and groups that a person supports could restrain them from lashing out to someone who did them wrong, and even go as far to going above and beyond for them. I used to have a creative writing teacher that said, “Never take anything personally. Something that someone does to you could be about something totally different.” It might be hard to think that way, but it’s better to think about the other person before you attack them.
When all is said and done, everything comes down to what a person feels is acceptable and what they know they can’t condone. Potter Stewart’s quote “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.”, can be proven by exploring the how corrupted the United States government is today, the laws and rights that other governments support or deny, and the different things that influence a person to believe what they believe. Ethics can stand for a lot; don’t let the government control what it means.