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28 April 2003 @ 02:39 pm
Some days it would just be easier...  
...to be the fluffy little girl with nary a brain in her head. Nary a care in the world except for herself. No worldview, no concern for others, no running the numbers, no weighing the costs and benefits for not only yourself but others as well. Gods that sounds appealing.

With brains come ethics.

I've been thinking on this topic lately. Trying to figure out how exactly I came to have the set of ethics I possess. Trying to figure out if they are good or bad. Do I need to change them? Are they beneficial or detrimental, and to whom? How do they shape who I am?

Why I have them is a mishmash of how I was raised, what I was as a child, and having to effectively become an adult at the age of 13 (and some other things associated with that whole experience).

Two big factors are years of Catholic school and my Daddy. The latter is simple - Daddy was a six and a half foot tall Col. with (by the end 24) years in. Very old school. Yes sir, no ma'am (a habit I carry with me to this day). We were *very* polite and well behaved children. Not that we didn't have our moments, for sure, but generally we toed the line. All it took was the Col. bending in half to get down to our level and scold us in his big, booming command voice. His ethics were very strong and very black and white in many ways. As an officer he had been indoctrinated for many long years with 'the good of the many over the good of the few or the one' philosophy. One did not step on toes unless it was intended. One was to be polite at all times. You never asked for help because you could do it yourself, or learn how. Be tough and suck it up. Confidences were just that, and gossip was frowned upon, to say the least. Don't invade people's space. He was big on telling people the truth when they needed it. But that was coupled with not coloring such with your own feelings, which were superfluous. Being responsible for yourself and your actions was something that Dad stressed. That also included how your actions would affect others. He also taugh me to ignore (or at least try to) the little things. Goes right along with sucking it up. He was also very reserved, and I think I learned that trait from him.

Catholic school also hardwired things into my brain. Helping people was the biggie. *Always* be willing to give someone a hand. *Always* think of the other person before yourself. Be giving. Selfishness is a sin. Catholic school also emphasized good and evil, black and white. Sins and virtues. For the most part I was a good little catholic school girl. But it also made me into a questioner. I was never big on the blind faith thing...

My Mom also (and to this day) reinforced the concern for others and giving angles. Sometimes to the extent that it was detrimental to the family, but I don't think she ever saw that. I cannot even remember the times I was rousted from my bed to sleep on the livingroom floor for weeks becuase she had taken in a stray teen. She would (and did, on occasion) give away our last penny. In her world it was fine as long as there was enough milk and PB&J to get us all through the week. Mom also... emphasized that because I was smarter than the average bear I had some responsibility to look out not only for my own interests, but those of others as well. She is a very touchy-feely person and has always been concerned with others feelings to a great degree.

Becoming an adult at the age of 13 formed me a great deal. Responsibility for my actions (and in this case my life) was paramount. And tho I don't think she realized it, Mom was always going about how I had to give back in return for all that had been done for me. More training not to be selfish.

I was a *serious* ugly duckling as a child. A tiny little thing, all knees and elbows with an Annie haircut. I was the kid that the bullies picked on and everyone made fun of. Or overlooked. Picked last. One thing that taught me is that I *never* want to be cruel to people, or tread on their dreams, or overlook them, or hurt someone through my thoughtlessness. Respect is important. I may not always succeed, but I try hard.

So this has all blended together to make me who I am. In many ways my ethical standards from myself are very strict, and occasionally very black and white. Which is hard because, being who I am, I see all the shades of grey.

How my mind wanders when fevered...

PostScript - soon I will go home and deal with my roommate, who has just lost his job. It's going to be a long damned night...

-the redhead-
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gypsyqyn on April 28th, 2003 03:16 pm (UTC)
i wanted to say
loved this post. for many many reasons. thank you for letting me read it =)

hope your day's going well.
Musings from the CZ unitcz_unit on April 28th, 2003 05:52 pm (UTC)
Mmm...

I have been thinking a lot about this myself lately. It's always been percolating in the back of my head, but recent events have caused me to question it more closely.

Who am I?

Yeah, I have a very strict set of ethics as well. Far more than most people. And we are similar in a number of ways. But I think your post here points out an interesting difference, a divergence.

You were raised with respect and authority and the Catholic school way.

I was raised with fear, terror, authority, and the Catholic school way.

Fear is a bad one. When you see the terror of fear and have to grow up fast to protect and even provide for yourself and siblings you learn some interesting skills to cope. One of them is reading other people, finding out what they want, and always wanting to be there to give that to them. Be that for them. You can't see someone else suffer because you *know* what it's like. You know what it's like to be at the bottom of the heap, the one that no one gives a damn about. You listen because people *need* that so much and you know it. And you know that you wanted someone to listen to you, and what happened when it didn't happen. Year after year after year.

And you will do your damdest to make sure that other people don't suffer that.

Fear. Discipline. Terror in the night. It's a nasty one. But it forges you in a fire. And you see the result, you know the result. Never again. It did make me who I am now.

Need to think more about this for awhile.

CZ
-the redhead-theredhead on April 28th, 2003 10:02 pm (UTC)
You think I don't know what it's like to be at the bottom of the heap, the one that no one gives a damn about? Hmmmm, interesting. I know I still *am* that person. It's all about other people and what I can do for them. Good, ol' dependable Redhead - she'll fix it! But she's strong and can take care of herself, nothing bothers her...

-the redhead-
Musings from the CZ unitcz_unit on April 29th, 2003 04:40 am (UTC)
You think I don't know what it's like to be at the bottom of the heap, the one that no one gives a damn about?

I don't believe I said that you didn't know what it was like. I actually was writing a response to your post based on events in my life from my point of view.

Hmmmm, interesting.

I know I still *am* that person. It's all about other people and what I can do for them. Good, ol' dependable Redhead - she'll fix it! But she's strong and can take care of herself, nothing bothers her...

Mmmmhm. That I believe I can understand.
Neverneverireven on April 28th, 2003 06:03 pm (UTC)
I've been thinking on this topic lately. Trying to figure out how exactly I came to have the set of ethics I possess. Trying to figure out if they are good or bad. Do I need to change them? Are they beneficial or detrimental, and to whom? How do they shape who I am?

Following a similar line of questioning a couple years ago is what kicked off my most long-lasted, confused, tormented, hopeless, angst-ridden crises of existential depression to date. It took me until last Christmas to come up with some solutions that, at least temporarily, allowed me to feel like it was okay for me to be alive and live my life. (But then, since you're older than me, I'm assuming you've already Been There Done That, probably more times than I have. ^_~) But I'm really glad I went through it. It gave me a much better understanding of who I am, and at least a good foundation from which to start figuring out what's meaningful to me and why.

Thanks for this post. It was nice to get an look into some of your past. :)
Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat.melanie on April 29th, 2003 10:52 am (UTC)
this was an interesting inside look. i do relate to the "black and white" standards, especially toward oneself, even if you are aware that there is gray and even if you tend to allow others to have that gray for themselves.