Tag 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 on quality versus quantity of life

Only Child  contemplates quality vs quantity of life

Only Child contemplates quality vs quantity of life

Yesterday I attended the funeral service for the mother of a friend. The mother was in her late 80s and for the past 10 years had suffered from dementia. Her quality of life was not good. My friend had to put her in a nursing home eight years ago but she spent a good part of her days with her mother.

It got me thinking of quality versus quantity of life. For those of you who have been following this blog you may remember that my parents did not live to a ripe old age. My dad died of brain cancer at 66 when I was 16 and my mom died of a sudden brain aneurysm at age 63 when I was 22. Here we have my dad suffering from some form of cancer off and on for six years before he died. He was not in a good place (and I don’t mean the hospital) in the last few months. Mom, on the other hand, had a few headaches, then the aneurysm and despite surgery, she died five days later.

Two of my maternal uncles and a first cousin once removed (I hate that ancestry categorization – sounds like they are getting kicked out of the family) lived into their 90s. When the cousin died at 90, she was blind, had dementia and a bad heart. One uncle, my godfather, died at the same age. He had dementia and heart problems. The other uncle, not a blood relative, died at age 98 and was healthy – mind and body – almost up to when he died.

My paternal grandfather died in his early 70s the same year my parents were married – so before I was born. My paternal grandma died in her mid-80s of a heart attack. She still had all her mental facilities and was able to get around okay.

That’s my history. But I’ve seen a lot of other suffering from illnesses and from my observations I truly believe that quality of life trumps quantity. If your mind is gone; if your body is filled with sickness that will kill you, is there a point in carrying on?

However, having said that I believe it is up to the individual to decide if they want to end their life sooner than later if they are terminally ill (of mind and/or body). It is not up to God’s will (and how often has that term been mis-used – from the family of terminally ill people praying for a miracle, to if the person dies well, they say, it was just God’s will.)

Excuse me. It is not God’s life but yours, mine – the person who is terminally will. If God gave us free will then we should have the right, if terminally ill, to decide if we want to die sooner than later. Quality over quantity.

And that’s where the problem arises.

Canada now has given the okay to assisted suicide, although the details have to be worked out. I have a problem with that, not because it will still be up to the dying person to decide, but because another person has to get involved. For every other medical procedure and the like I believe medical doctors have to go by the letter of the law – whatever their beliefs. But not here. I think they should be allowed to go by their conscience as long as they recommend a doctor who will assist in suicide. And not interfere with the dying person’s choice.

The other problem is often a person is too sick to decide and unfortunately hasn’t made a living will. So the family members try to impose what they want and believe to be right, not necessarily what the dying person wants. And not all family members agree.

So, it is a dilemma. Maybe we should have had it built into our being that if and when we become terminally ill, we just die right away.

Of course, some won’t make it that far because of other people’s actions, from vehicle crashes to plane crashes like the German plane crashing over France because of the co-pilot’s deliberate actions.

Perhaps the only thing to do is carpe diem – something I struggle with because of all the problems in my life – and I don’t mean just health-related.

What do you think?

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Assisted Suicide, cancer, Carpe Diem, Death and Dying, Dying with Dignity, Family, Family and Friends, Mom and Dad, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford