The Ethics of Doing and Becoming: A Personal Story

Pieter Huisman

Sr. Software Integration Technologist

RF Communications Division - Calgary

Harris Canada

In grade five a substitute teacher who had the reputation for being soft gave my class a surprise quiz. This teacher did not hear very well, had difficulties controlling the class, and was considered a push over. Before the test, which I was not prepared for, I attempted to cheat by arranging my books in such a way that a paper with many of the answers was visible. This was my first attempt at such an act, and though I knew it to be wrong, I felt I was so stupid that this was my only chance, and the substitute wouldn't notice anyway, so no one would know.

I realize now that all my clever stealth was clearly visible and the substitute teacher easily spotted me. This teacher, the push-over, quietly motioned me over, leaned over and whispered, "That is not who you are - Are you sure this is the person you want to become?" She said no more, and let me continue with the test. My life changed for the better that day. It could have gone the other way.

The substitute teacher was right. The path I was about to take was not who I was, or wanted to be. Yet, how easily I deceived myself into believing it was my only choice. How easy it was to start on that road.

That whisper which was so loud has reverberated throughout my life. Often, I pretend to be deaf, when I don't heed those words of ethical truth, and so end up activing as if I were someone I am not, but the words are never silenced, and eventually I have to answer them.

In her book, Absolute Truths, Susan Horwatch writes:

"High and wide is the gate which leads to self-deception and illusion, but for those seeking truth, strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life. Brave is the person who can journey there."

It sometimes takes courage to be true to who we really are when the pressures around us push us in contrary directions. It takes courage to stick to our own proper path, resisting the self-deception that calls us to superficially attractive but actually self-defeating behavior.

Horwatch goes on to report, from a vantage point of enhanced wisdom in her own life:

"I saw now that the more wounded one was the more difficult it became not merely to stick to that path but to see it as it unfurled towards that lasting happiness and fulfillment which human beings find so elusive. I thought how my own path through life had twisted and turned during the years. I thought how I had squeezed through that strait gate only to wander from that narrow way as my damaged self steered me in a multitude of wrong directions, but now I was crawling back, my self-knowledge forming the compass which guided my return journey."

Every decision we make either keeps us on the path of truth that is right for us, or takes us down a contrary road. We should remember that fact in everything we do.

Editorial Note: At the time of this writing, Pieter was reading Tom Morris's book Making Sense of It All, and sending in great reports about his own thinking on its issues.

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