Journalism and ethics: the title of my new class.
Our teacher states from the outset we are not going to teach you what is right and wrong, because life is not black and white. We are going to give you the mental tools to figure it out for yourselves.
He gives us examples of people who have stuck to their gut instincts, regardless of what others have considered to be morally acceptable. My particular favourite was the story of American soldier Hugh Thompson and the role he played in stopping the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam war, 1968. Thompson rescued Vietnamese civilians from the surge of American soldiers who were slaughtering entire villages. He threatened to open fire on American soldiers and reported their actions immediately.
Back in America, Thompson was seen as a traitor for threatening the lives of fellow brothers in arms. It took thirty years for the country to recognise his courage and sense of morality.
For me this is a beautiful story about sticking-to-yours-guns, no matter what others say, do or think. You do what is right and the rest will fall into place. This reminds me of my favourite quote, it is from the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. It goes, “And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should”.
Whatever your next step is in life, do what you feel is right. And if you do not know how you feel then ask yourself this question: Am I trying to be perfect or good? If you are trying to be perfect then maybe you should think again. If you are trying to be good then you may just be on the right track.