Category Archives: Ethics

Only Child asks: Is honesty the best policy?

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

My late mother was a stickler for honesty. Unlike Gibbs on the NCIS TV series, who had his 10 rules for living written in a small notebook, Mom’s 10 rules were in her head, perhaps some buried in her subconscious. She couldn’t tolerate lies.

Some of the stories spanning out from this, could get complicated, sometimes funny, and sometimes leaving me at a disadvantage some way – but at least I was doing the right thing.

One that comes to mind is when one of my classmates who I hung around with was messing up in marking math exercises. We were in grade three and the teacher had us  pass our exercises to the person sitting in front of us for marking. My friend sat behind me so I got hers to mark. She had some questions wrong and I marked them with an X. When she got the exercise back she changed he X to a tic.

That really ticked me off. But I was too shy then to say anything to the teacher. So I told Mom.

Her solution was for mr to tell the teacher. Mom even offered a 25 cent reward if I did this. I sold my friend out for 25 cents. But, hey, I told the truth.

However, when Mom learned that this same friend and I were cutting through the laneway behind houses and shops to come home from school, she told me I couldn’t do this because it wasn’t safe. But I was more afraid of getting the ire of this friend again, so I followed her like the proverbial Pied Piper, through the alleyway. What the heck. Nothing looked bad. The most menacing thing we saw was a man unloading food from a truck for the IGA store.

When I returned home from school Mom asked, “Did you go through the alley?”

“No,” I replied. And didn’t feel good about it.

Not so with sneaking out the back and dangerous way over to the park the girl gang I hung around with played in. Mom had definitely said I couldn’t take the dangerous route. I was supposed to go the long and boring way along the street and cross the busy street intersection at the lights, then continue walking along the sidewalk to the park.

Nope. I followed the ringleader (my math marker cheating friend) and the others to the end of my street to the dead end street and over to the steep steps down to dangerous, curving and busy Don Mills Road. And this was in the late 1950s before the Don Valley Parkway was built nearby with a major exit from Don Mills Road just a bit north of where we landed on the road. There were no sidewalks there, but if we did continue further south, sidewalks were on the part of Don Mills Road close to the busy intersection. But the shorter back way into the park was before that on the other side of the road. So we waited for a small break in traffic and darted quickly across to the other side. We always made it there safely.

I never told Mom; but she never asked on this one.

Looking back, except for a few of these diversions I told the truth – or more often kept my mouth shut as I was shy.

Fast forward too many years to now in the 21st. century. Not a big truthful world. There are scams, frauds, lies, etc. etc. happening non-stop everywhere. You know who in the States is a master at this. It is hard to think that anyone is honest anymore.

However, I have met some honest people, people who do their best to tell the truth. Which is my policy now, with more complications. For one thing, I am no longer shy and I can be blunt and sarcastic when truthful. Sometimes words seem to come out of my mouth without my mind connecting first. This ties in with my sense of justice versus injustice and people being inconsiderate and doing the wrong thing, often making the situation unsafe. For example if I see someone acting badly, I often just chastise them…in public.

One of my biggest peeves is people who block the subway stairs just so they can stand there and muck around with their digital device. They stand at the top of the stairs. They stand at the bottom of the stairs; and they stand partway down (or up?) the stairs, oblivious of anyone going up or down the stairs.

So, there I come, senior citizen with bad feet and a bad left eye. I’m hanging onto the railing and carefully looking down at the steps and what is or isn’t ahead.

“You’re blocking the way,” I say to the person in front of me. Are his feet glued to the step?

He turns around and we get into a heated discussion.

“I’m a senior and I have to hang onto the railing and not have to go around anyone,” I say.

“There is another railing over there.” He points to the other side of the steps.

“Yes, but that is for people coming up the stairs to hang onto.”

And so it goes back and forth a bit. But he does move out of the way. (I can be persistent as well as honest and blunt). Afterwards I wonder what would happen to him or others who do the same in rush hour when people are zooming up and down the stairs and assume everyone else is doing the same. What if someone accidentally pushed against the digital device fanatic and the person fell? Seems like a hard lesson to learn for being stupid and inconsiderate.

So, I don’t feel bad about being honest telling these digital menaces off.

But I try to use another of my mom’s characteristics, one she may have had difficulty using – being diplomatic. You can’t always be bluntly honest. Sometimes using some diplomacy and tact can go a long way.

I am also working on going up to people I see doing some good and complimenting them. For example, when I was at the CNE in August, the young woman (probably a student doing a summer job) who was cleaning the Ladies Room was doing an excellent job and going about it quietly without getting in anybody’s way. When she was cleaning the sinks, I walked up to her.

“Excuse me,” I said.

She turned around and looked at me.

“You’re doing a good job,” I said. “I know it must be tiresome.”

“Thank you,” she said.

Honesty has many ways to present. Unfortunately so does dishonesty.

What do you think?

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, Ethics, Honesty, Learning Experience, Mother and Child, Only child, Seniors

Only Child on what’s wrong with labour union strikes

Only Child  contemplates the strike issue

Only Child contemplates the strike issue

Back in the grey ages when I was 16, I learned a hard lesson about labour union strikes. As a teenager I had many pen pals (regular mail, no email then) and got close to some of them, particularly one living in Saskatchewan. I checked the mailbox regularly (and that included Saturday delivery then) for pen pal letters and replied soon after receiving them. I loved learning how my pals lived, and despite different living conditions, we all went through the usual teenage angst. We confided our deepest secrets and concerns to each other and often provided a lifeline. We were friends.

One angst not expected was a big postal carrier strike Canada-wide. No mail – in or out. I was devastated. But I learned a hard lesson – labour strikes don’t just affect the unions on strike and the employer – there is a third party, an innocent party – general public. From then on I have been against this so-called right to strike.

Now in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada, a wave of possible teacher strikes has started. Durham Region secondary school teachers walked off the job yesterday. But something interesting happened. Instead of just the teachers picketing, a group of students held a demonstration and they were not supporting their teachers going on strike. The students weren’t taking sides and their message was for the teachers to get back to work as they (the students) loved learning and wanted to finish their school year. See the news story at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/high-schools-closed-in-ontarios-durham-region-as-teachers-go-on-strike/article24025795/

 

Last month it was the TAs at two of Toronto’s universities – York and University of Toronto – who went on strike. Their strikes overlapped somewhat in time. Students did support the TAs but there was some scuffle with picketers blocking non-strikers driving in to one of the university campuses.

That’s not right.

This whole strike situation with third party suffering presents the analogy of two divorcing parents using their kids as pawns in custodial and financial battles. Because aren’t the third parties in strikes essentially pawns to get both sides to “smarten up” and settle.

Not fair. And that is the essence of my being against strikes. If strikes didn’t harm a third party and just affected the employer and employees I would say “go to it.”

Unfortunately that is not the case.

You’d think that after all these years of strikes being legal, people would see how damaging they can be. But history doesn’t seem to teach us much it seems. Sure, the powers that be (read governments of different levels) have stepped in – even making some services essential. For example, the City of Toronto has done this with the city public transit (TTC), police have had a no-strike rule for years. The list goes on – but it isn’t long enough.

And before you think I’m whistling Dixie, I have belonged to a union – but one where no strikes were allowed. And guess what – we got a good deal with increased wages and excellent benefits.

I think it is time an alternative to strikes was found. First, contracts need to be renewed when they fall due and that means both sides starting negotiations months before so a new contract is in place when the old one is finished. And maybe these unions with the strike clause need to take a page from those who aren’t allowed to strike. Binding arbritration. Often that is how prolonged strikes end up anyway.

And take a page from medical doctors’ Hippocratic Oath.

“Do no harm.”

The present strike setup sure doesn’t do that.

Just ask the students in Durham Region.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1960s, Arbitration, Ethics, Goverment Legislation, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child views sleep deprivation and ethics

Only Child trying to catch up on zz's

I wish I could sleep like I used to as a child – as in sounder sleep and longer sleep time (usually). I remember my mom banging on my bedroom door and calling, “Sharon, time to get up.”  I wasn’t too happy about it if it was  a school day. Weekends were another matter.

These days, although it is an alarm clock, not my late mother waking me up, my wake-up mood remains the same on weekdays, grumpy and dazed, with one exception – spring and summer when it is actually daylight with the sun streaming in when I open my eyes. In my late teens and early 20s I used to burn the midnight oil reading a good mystery book. That remains the same, except it is more like way past the midnight hour. It seems after turning off the TV at 11.30 p.m. when I have my fill of the news and weather, instead of getting ready for bed I dive into housework. Stuff on my “to-do” list not yet done, even stuff not on today’s to-do list. My mantra seems to be “don’t leave to tomorrow what you can do tonight.”

So, if I get five to six hours of sleep on weeknights, I’m “lucky.” I try to make up for it on weekends by sleeping an hour later, something the sleep experts don’t recommend. The experts say you should go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each day. They obviously aren’t considering the “only person syndrome” lifestyle as I call it.

But not getting enough sleep each night definitely has its “side-effects” and not all of them are what you might expect, i.e., a little cranky, can’t remember someone’s name or where you put your  keys (try the door for the latter), and putting your immune system in peril. But a study has shown that if we don’t get enough sleep we might turn into mini-depraved monsters.

The study, conducted by Michael Christian of the Kenan-Flagler Business School (University of North Carolina) and Aleksander Ellis of Eller College of Management (University of Arizona) discovered this from something not commonly done in a sleep lab. A group of nurses and students deliberately pulled all nighters. The next day they were more prone not only to be rude but to steal money. (Reported in the Washington Post, May 13, 2011. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-leadership/post/why-sleep-deprivation-can-makeyou-unethical/2011/04/01/AFIIxT2G_blog.html).

The problem is glucose just doesn’t metabolize as it should when we don’t get enough zz’s. Most of us know that glucose gives our brain energy but did you know that it also helps the brain to function ethically? All this occurs (or not) in the prefrontal cortex part of the brain. This area manages tasks such as keeping our emotions and behaviour in check. And like the rest of our bodies, this part of the brain needs its beauty sleep to work properly.

That can bring out wacko behaviour in our personal and professional lives, such as yelling at clients, having a hissy fit in a bank or store check-out line-up, and the one we have all sent or received – the nasty email. And we should not use sleep deprivation as the go ahead to bill a client way above our normal rates. Wait until you get enough sleep to go for a fee increase and let the client know first.

You are not alone in lack of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation states that between 1999 and 2009, the number of Americans getting under six hours of zz’s a night has skyrocketed from 13 percent to 20 percent. I’m guessing it is still climbing, given our 24/7work culture and pre-occupation with technology.

So, the new mantra could be: lose your sleep time, lose your ethics.

Now where did I put my keys? They aren’t in my door. Maybe check another section of my purse. Heck, maybe some other sleep-deprived person swiped them. Wait a minute, unless a ghost got into my place…

Comments?

Happy zz’s

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under brain, Ethics, glucose, Only child, prefrontal cortex, Sharon Crawford, Sleep deprivation, Stealing, to do list