Ethical Fading in the Time of a Pandemic
As we progress as a country, as a world into darker days of this pandemic, we will be faced with many ethical and moral choices. Morality choices are not just about our own behavior. Most times we are called onto make choices that have long lasting effects on our neighbors, our families, and our mental health.
In March 1984 I had to allow my baby daughter, she was 2 ½ years, to die. The disease she had would not let go. Without going into morbid details, I can tell you the morality of death and life decisions any person makes stay with you an entire lifetime.
Healthcare workers are making these decisions across our world. For the rest of their life they will question their decisions of life and death. The last look at the individuals, no matter how many, will never leave them. Over time the pain will ebb to a degree. It is possible many will commit suicide when the emergency is over, unable to deal with the questioning in their mind of the decisions they had to make.
No person is ethical 100% of the time. No one can answer the ethical questions we must ask ourselves during this time.
The first facet is called ethical fading. It occurs when the aspect of the ethical questions begin to fade from our thinking. We engage in self-deception, thinking our decision to go out or gather will have no real effect. Ethical fading occurs when we decide to horde supplies of all kinds is our right. We deceive our self into imagining we are worth the cost to humanity. Look at the post on 03-21 for more insight into this kind of moral choices.
Moral disengagement is when we restructure reality to make our actions and choices seem less harmful to others. We make up statements such as “well if I get the virus, I get it.” We try to minimize the guilt we feel when violate the ethics we know are important in our decision-making.
Diffusion of responsibility occurs when we wait for others to make a decision to act. For instance, we already know how the COVID-19 is passed and that staying home and not gathering is important to cutting down the impact. But many wait for their governor to put a shelter in place order. Diffusion of responsibility makes people feel less anxiety to act, they believe, correctly or incorrectly, that someone else will do so. When we don’t feel responsible for a situation, we feel less guilt for doing nothing to help.
More tomorrow… March 23, 2020
© Suzanne Deakins