Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Law and Ethics

Last night I was called to the hospital. It was 1 AM.

Whenever that happens,
I feel a bit of an ambiguity about
what I should do at the traffic lights
on my way to the hospital.

The first light was red.
There was another car going the same direction as me.
The car stopped in front of me on the right lane
I went next to him on the left lane.
Both of us standing there.
No other cars visible near or far.
I was a bit in a hurry to the hospital
and I decided to drive on even though the light was still red.
I disobeyed the law.
Was it wrong?

From a legal point of view it was wrong.
But from an ethical or moral point it did no feel wrong to me.

I think that there is a very big difference between law and ethics.
Whereas it is generally accepted that not following the law is not ethical,
the above example may be (or may not be, perhaps, I may be wrong on this ?)
an exception to this. The driver of the other car in the above example,
surely felt compelled to wait until it was green and perhaps thought 
I was just a reckless driver (??)

It is much easier t find examples
 where people do perfectly legal things
 but morally or ethically it is wrong.
There are legal channels for tax evasion
There are only so many laws while our consciousness and our ethics are so complex.
It is not illegal to let patients wait unnecessarily long in the clinic.
It is not illegal to lie to your wife.
It is not illegal to be nasty up to a certain extent,

Let us not confuse the two.
Legally doing things that do feel wrong,
deprives us of our peace of mind.
Missing our peace of mind may be a much bigger burden
than getting a ticket for a minor traffic offense.

What do you all think?
Do you stop for red traffic lights on completely deserted roads at night?

1 comment:

  1. i think it's not quite right to let the patient who need urgent treatment to wait any longer,
    just because of 'a red light on a road without traffic'.

    As we may have experienced, in certain countries, there are sensors on the roads. when there's no other traffic, we may get "all-green-lights" throughout our journey.

    however when it become a habit, we may not be always correct that the road is 100% clear of traffic.
    we're still putting ourselves & other road users at risk.
    i will still feel a bit of guilt and therefore i need to be really alert and careful each time i do so.

    Sometimes each of us does not really belongs to ourselves.
    we belong to our families, our siblings, our patients...
    the same goes to the other road users (passerby, motorist, drivers) who may be hit by us on the rushing journey



Do you agree, do you disagree, please comment...