Tonight was the last night of my Ethics class. Everyone presented their final research paper entitled "My Version of How to Choose Right from Wrong". I have students from all over the world. The different versions of these papers are incredibly interesting to listen to.
Here's a sample of some of the presentations we heard in class tonight:
Chris, Virginia: "I hate to oversimply it, but if everyone just followed the rule of 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you' that would solve most of our problems."
Cristi, Dominican Republic: "Life is full of contradictions, and because I'm human, I definitely continue to make many mistakes. That does not make me a bad person, on the other hand, this adds more heart to my life, since I am learning from the first mistake, and when something happens again, I know which is the right decision to make."
Charles, Cameroon: "Our upbringing was based on the philosophy of advocating for what was right and standing firm on what was wrong. I lay credit to Nelson Mandela for being a major source of inspiration in my life, both for the philosophy of non-violence, and for facing adversity with dignity."
Othman, Morocco: "Most of us, when faced with a choice between right and wrong, will choose to do the right thing, unless we lack the moral courage to choose right over wrong."
Priscilla, Cameroon: "I started on my path many years ago when I was a young girl, living in my village in Africa. Everyday, we had to get up early, fetch water to bathe, and then head to school. If you were not early enough to fetch water on time, you ended up late for school and got punished for that. So at a tender age, I learned that for every problem, there were solutions and if you took the wrong decision on a problem, you stood to face the consequences, whether good or bad. . . As we grew up, the older people in the village kept a close eye on us. When the younger boys tried to climb trees that were too tall, they were told to come down from the branches. One day a bold and daring boy waited until there were no adults around, and while his friends watched, he climbed one of the taller trees we had been forbidden to climb. Soon, they heard a crack and the branch on which he was standing broke off the tree. He fell and ended up with a broken leg. From that day, no one dared to question the wisdom of the adults."
Frankly, I could quote this entire paper. It's filled with all sorts of interesting anecdotes!
Andrew, Mennonite: "I have come to respect ideals in other religions, like the Navajo ideal of balance between the natural, the human, and the supernatural. I can take that to mean for me that I should find a balance between my physical life and the spiritual. For example, if my physical body needs healing and I must rest my body, that would be a perfect time for also strengthening my faith in God. To reflect more on Him, pray more, and become a better person from it all."
Rosa, Puerto Rico: "I think that we, as God's pinnacle creation, have been made with an innate sense of right and wrong. I also believe that we, as God's creation made in his image, have been given the choice between whether to choose to acknowledge and act upon what has been instilled in us by our creator as right."
Anne, Nigeria: "Respect demands that we do not take away the conditions of moral agency or autonomy from other people."
Rosaline, Cameroon: "Where I come from, genital mutilation of young girls is acceptable. On the day of the event, elderly women who believe and have gone through genital mutilation will prepare while the men provide drinks. After the process, they all sit and celebrate that their daughter's virginity is preserved and it is only the husband who will enjoy the wife. Contrary, some western countries term it as morally wrong."
Emma, Cameroon: "What is said to be right in one country or region may be wrong in another. Moreover, what was right say fifty years ago, may be wrong today. In the same vein, different families, like cultures, have different standards for what is right or wrong. Therefore, choosing between right and wrong depends largely on the society or region in which one resides. This means that immigrants to a new country should quickly find out what laws exist in their new country so that they would be able to choose between right from wrong."
Before sharing their papers, we shared food from everyone's different countries. We even decided to pray before eating the meal, since we'd discussed religion enough in class!
It was a wonderfully positive night.