It was a rainy day in Aberdeen, and it was a late afternoon lecture. It was not an out of the ordinary day, and I am sure if I asked some of my old classmates if they remembered this lecture, they would say of course not! In this archaeology ethics class, the teacher told us a story and posed a question to us, regarding a dilemma that pit our personal ethics and job security against each other. He told us about an archaeologist who was working on a contract for the government to quickly excavate and evaluate an indigenous site that was positioned where they wanted to build a highway. The archaeologist found that the site was more than was originally anticipated, and was an extensive burial ground. The government did not want to inform the tribe, because they did not want to delay or divert the building of the highway. What would we do if we were in that situation?
I sat and weighed each side, considering the pros and cons. First off, it was wrong, and unethical- the tribe had the right to know what was happening. But on the other hand, sneaking back to tell the tribe would permanently damage your ability to contact with the government and put you at risk of being fired.
Another student asked why it would be so bad to ere on the side of job security. He replied, “There is nothing wrong with that. It is your choice. But that tells you, and that tells me what kind of person you are. What I think does not really matter though- you have to sit with yourself at the end of the day and be okay with what you have done, and who you have done it to.” It was not eloquent, and it was not sugar coated. Nonetheless, it strongly resonated with me. In hindsight it may have seemed harsh, and different schools of thought certainly might not agree. I took this statement as advice coming from a person, not a bias. This ordinary day, this ordinary lecture that probably was boring to the majority of my class, was a moment in time that I will always remember.
What my teacher said was true. But not only that, making decisions about these kinds of situations puts you on a certain kind of track for the future. I have always had a strong sense of right and wrong, but I think this really illustrated for me at a younger age how those ethics can come into play during adult life. Making decisions can come at a price no matter which road one ends up choosing. So thanks to all the teachers out there whom unintentionally and intentionally make a difference in the life of a pupil!
Who in your life has made you think, or changed how you want to live your life for the better? Comment below!
Peace and long life.