When Ethics Hurt You

I’m home, sick, today.  Probably not a good thing since it gives my mind too much time to reflect.  Today I have been thinking about my current class – or rather the class I just withdrew from.  Not only did the events leading up to my withdrawing affect me, but also the withdrawing itself.  I felt like I failed myself.  At this point I don’t know if I withdrew so I didn’t have to fight, or if I withdrew to stand up for myself.  Either way, I think I needed a brief academic break from institutionalized learning.ethics

Background:  In an earlier post I was making fun of leaders leading leaders.  I was only mildly irritated at that time.  In order to understand the leadership process, we are often assigned collaborative group projects to work on.  Of course, the operative word is collaborative.  I had been contacting my colleagues for over a week, with no response.  I finally contacted the professor.  Again, no response.  I finally contacted my group and the professor and stated that unless otherwise advised, I would complete the project on my own, with a rationale for my decision.  The next day, the day before the project was due, the professor and both colleagues responded.  The professor gave me the encouraging words of….work it out.  One of my colleagues wanted me to submit my work for all of us.  After 22 years of school (gasp!), you’d think people would be more mature – especially going into leadership!  Yet, once again, I’m the one standing up for something, but they are still in the class.  Once again, I am hurting myself.

So, why am I so stubborn to fight for this?  Why do I feel compelled to do the right thing?  Sometimes I tire myself out.  It would be so easy to be like others and take the easy path.  But for some reason I can’t do that.  It’s just not in me.  I tire myself, but I can sleep at night.  Parker Palmer (2007) described a similar emotion:  “When I violate myself, I invariably end up violating the people I work with.  How many teachers inflict their own pain on their students, the pain that comes from doing what never was, or no longer is, their true work”?  He is talking about the true calling of teaching, but it can also mean the true calling of truthfulness to yourself and others.

Perhaps one day I’ll understand why some people are the way they are – but do I really want to know?

Thanks for listening!

~Emily Aragon


Palmer, P. (2007).  The courage to teach.  Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life (10th ed). San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass.


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