Personal principles

I was in a meeting recently, at which we were making a decision which projects to fund. Each of the proposed projects, according to the strict definition of the call for proposals, was worthwhile.

One of those projects offended my ethical principles. I couldn’t in good conscience vote for it, so I didn’t. And so another project, which I did not find to be ethically objectionable, was funded instead.

But here’s the thing: I didn’t tell the other people in the room why I wasn’t voting for that project. I was certainly under no obligation to do so. Still, I could have.

But then they would have had the opportunity to object, to say they didn’t share my principles, and on that basis to come to the defense of the project in question. And so by telling them more than I needed to, I might have helped a project to be funded that I objected to on ethical principles.

I realize that everyone has their own personal principles. I may never agree with yours, and you may never agree with mine. We are all different.

So in that moment I was faced with my own ethical crisis: Should I attempt, within a few minutes, to influence a group of people to agree with my view of what is ethical, or should I instead assert my ethics directly on the world itself?

I chose the latter course, and I still don’t know whether it was the right decision. But on balance, I am glad about the outcome.

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