Exploring and Understanding the Meaning of Ethics by Hodo Hersi

I was very pleased to start a course called ethics because since I was child I used to hear the word ethics in different contexts such as medical ethics or professional ethics. I was taught as a child the Dos and Don’ts of our culture as well as our religion and I believed those are my ethical values. They were the ones that I will use to make more judgments.

Back to my topic, what I was interesting was that, I wanted to know the exact meaning behind this subject and how different ethics are different after completing the intercultural communication course last trimester. To begin with, the first week was about the overview of the course and general explanation about it, hence I started my reflective dairy from the second week.

During the second week, our lecture was aimed to trigger our minds to ask some question about ethics and how do we decide the appropriate actions for an ethical issue. One of the most important things that I remember during this class was a story that prof. Evangalos shared with us. It was an evening night; Prof Evangalos and his wife together with Dr. Hamid were hiking around AiU campus while a neighbor approached to them. He greeted them nicely and then discussed with them, the things that he did not like about AiU, couples of students going out together at night, students who are addicted to smoke and lastly some students as well as staff who have long hair which is not appropriate in this community.

After listening the lecturer’s view as well as my colleagues, I would like to discuss and focus the last point. A friend of mine told me, that it is very uncommon for Malaysians to grow their hair. I do agree that and I observed that most of the old people hate having long hair but what I observed is that due to cultural changes and international intermingling, some Malay teens like this and it is becoming somehow popular. In conclusion, I understood from this that, ethical values change through time therefore, what old Malaysians used to consider unethical, might become normal for the new generation.

Other important topics during this lecture were, trying to remember and understand some ethical issues back in home and any ethical issues that I involved recently. First, when I asked this to myself what came to my mind was, how do we elect our leaders back home through moral judgments with logical reasons or not? And to my disappointment, my answer was “No”. I am from Somaliland, a self-proclaimed country which lost its independence in 1960 but finally got it back in 1991.

My country has full functioning government and I am proud to say that we are the one of the few African countries that does have presidential elections every five years. The opposition parties won more than three times with no violence, however, on the dark side we elect the leaders through tribalism. Everyone votes for the candidate who is from same tribe as him or her and no one considers the knowledge of the candidate.

I looked this situation in many aspects and I really feel embraced when I started thinking about some great men who would really transform our small nation to more prosperous and affluent but their dreams did not come true. Those talents and minds were simply lost because their tribes are small in number. It is really shame to judge things in that way rather than what someone truly deserves. Honestly speaking, I as woman never liked this idea and it was from men who usually evaluate things based on tribes. Based on what I have learnt from this class, I will try to create an association for women and influence them to vote for the right candidates that can change our country. I also realized this is very potential threat to our democracy, peace and stability in my country.

Secondly, I would like to share with you how my parents decided to allow me to come here. Apart from good quality education, people’s courtesy makes Malaysia one of the best destinations for foreign students. However, many people in my country believe that Malaysia is not good for girls and it was really hard for me to convince my parents to allow me to go. I am very happy that they finally allowed me to go and now when they asked me how far their beliefs are true, they wonder how wrong they were. That is all from the lecture and frankly speaking this lecture gave me not full but a helpful picture of the meaning of ethics. Now, I would like to proceed on the tutorial class in which I further improved my understanding.

The lecture was just about giving general description and triggering students to ask some important ethical questions. Nevertheless, it was the tutorial class that our lecturer Mr. John Britto further highlighted the meaning of ethics. He first defined ethics as art and science of making moral judgments (what is wrong and right) which in return will have serious consequences (harm or reward) on human well being as well as the environment. He taught us some reasons to consider when making moral judgments. In the class, to understand the reasons we examined whether capital punishment is good or bad under certain circumstances. Our lecturer Mr. John used vivid examples on how to decide this issue using the reason and none of us could decide the right thing at the time.

Therefore, I understood that making moral judgments is not as simple as I used to think and it needs adequate information and tangible reason. In summary, the lessons of the second week were very important for me and they showed the path where I will start not only the ethics course but also understanding and examining my own ethics. I hope I will learn more as the weeks pass by and reflect this course on my entire life.

#HodoHersi

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