Ethical Living Q3

How To Be Good

An introduction to Q3’s Ethical Living Theme

By Samantha Harford

It started one day when I was sat down, thirty minutes into a lecture on Marlowe letting my mind wander from our discussion on Faust. Why, I asked, are people so hellbent on making the same mistake like the one in this play by making deals with the Devil? Why, like Faust,  are we all so ethically challenged? It seemed so simple to me at that moment, I’d read all the stories, pulled apart the fatal flaws and analysed every hubris in every book. “Just be good, it’s not that hard”, I’d say. Use nice words, no name calling, share, help people, don’t be greedy, look after the planet, don’t be violent. There’s a lot of rules but they can be summed up with “just be good”. It’s simple isn’t it? Since the beginning of human civilisation, we have been trying so hard to set general rules of conduct to preserve peace and general happiness in society. And in 2019, we still haven’t quite cracked it.

Being good, I realised, wasn’t simple at all and it definitely isn’t as black and white as they had taught us in school. Sure I have cut out meat from my diet, I drink plant milk, I donate money when I can and I try my hardest to be kind to everyone I meet. But I also buy books second-hand on Amazon because they cost £5 less than they do in tax-paying, law-abiding bookstores. I have MAC products that I still use because they were gifted to me “so it would be a waste to leave them”. I have more clothes than I need and I’m ashamed to admit that most of them come from high street stores where prices have been cut so low because they literally don’t pay their factory workers. I use Uber. In fact, I’m typing this letter on a laptop which is most likely made up by people across the globe who are paid less that 50p an hour just so that I can afford to complete my work at an easier, more stylish pace.

Writing all of this out, I am really starting to hate myself (and I’m sure some of our readers with better self-control are too). As things go, my rule following idea only just touches the surface of what it means to truly live ethically, and we can see this so blatantly just by examining some of my personal habits. I can’t be the only one, I’m sure. There are certainly more things that we all can do to lead better lifestyles but not all of them are as easy as we think. In 2019 it is unsurprising to say that living ethically is going to be difficult as we rely so heavily on technology and modern society. With this new theme, I want to learn more about what this means in relation to us. We saw with our last theme that it is okay to make mistakes and that with them, come some very important lessons — this applies to our general lifestyles too. I’m really excited to start making changes in my life which can positively impact the world around me and I plan on using this new theme to do just that. I know that there will always be something that I can do better, but also (and this bit is very important for us), I know that every small change leads up to a big impact. Small changes today will lead to big ones tomorrow. Starting this theme has taught me so much about what I choose not to see in the world. Now, this is hardly revolutionary and it’s a realisation that has for a long time, been coming. But I want to be good enough and I think that the best thing we can do with this year’s new topic is to explore how we can do that.

“Small changes today will lead to big ones tomorrow”

So from now on readers, no more deal-making with the Devil (and by Devil, I mean those big corporate companies that exploit people worldwide). With this issue, I’m going to try to be better and ditch those old unethical habits but not get too frustrated over any slip-ups. I hope that you all enjoy this theme as much as I have been.