I have become more jaded over the years but continue to be fascinated by people’s moral compass.  Everyone seems to have different values on what is right and what is wrong.  What is the moral conduct when you know of something bad going on but decided not to tell the person it is impacting?

I have been asking friends this question.  If you knew something would be harmful to someone, regardless of how close you were with them, would you let them know?  The answers are anywhere from “well how close” or “how bad” or “of course”.

I am not a religious person but here are the 3 parts of morality that I read about.  1) harmony between individuals; 2) the inner harmony of the individual; 3) the general purpose of life

These days when morality seems to have turned upside down, I am just curious on other’s moral compass.  I always fall back on transparency and honesty and that includes apologizing when need be.   Other might say it depends.  Just something I am thinking about these days.


Comments (Archived):

  1. CCjudy

    there are people who lack a moral compass

    1. Gotham Gal

      I agree completely.

    2. jason wright

      or it is broken, broken by exposure to environments where morality is merely a wrapper.

  2. Kirsten Lambertsen

    When power threatens someone’s safety (livelihood, acceptance, existence), it can feel like morals have to be overlooked in order to survive. This is when solidarity can make all the difference.I’ve never felt a stronger sense of responsibility to live my morals than I do right now. I go out of my way to make my ethics and morals known in new situations, and I make sure to be explicit and obvious about standing for those ethics and morals so that anyone who’s feeling unsure can feel safer tethering to me if they need to. As someone in a leadership position, I think it’s critical right now that I model how to do this without fear or ambiguity.I see a lot of people doing the same. It’s a reason to be optimistic.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I love that

    2. lisa hickey

      What a great answer. Thank you for your leadership.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Ha, thanks. To be honest, it feels way easier than trying to navigate shifting rules and protocols. It probably also coincides with the kind of attitude that can come with reaching a ‘certain age’ 😀

  3. Erin

    Yeah no, I can’t keep those kinds of secrets, although I have done it for one person. I guess I’ll find out at the pearly gates if I made the right decision.Sexual health clinics ask you straight up before they take your samples– “What would you do if you found out you were positive? Do you have supports? Etc.” Maybe don’t be that explcit in your questioning, but just wade into the waters and guage how to proceed.

  4. LE

    Here is an actual question. What should or would you do if you find out that a person’s spouse is cheating on them?I think that there might be a different answer to that depending on a host of factors:a) How well you know the people involvedb) How old you arec) Whether you are married yourselfd) Whether you were or are divorcede) How long you have been married forf) Your personal history (ie a parent or a friend cheated on a spouse)g) If there are kids involvedh) What type of ‘cheating’ is going on that you find out abouti) How certain you are of the cheating. In other words ‘saw with my own eyes’ or’was told by a reliable source’ or ‘am pretty sure because…’j) Who else might be impacted by the disclosure (ie company employees, grandma/grandpa, children, an entire city (say the mayor))For the purpose of the hypothetical question we can stipulate ‘saw with own eyes’. But then again that breaks down even further to ‘overheard intimate conversations’ or ‘saw with another person in a restaurant getting cozy’ all the way to ‘saw having sex’.Further what should you do if you have a new date with someone and you find out that they had cheated on their previous spouse or significant other? Is that an automatic deal breaker?Sure more details matter (other than a – i) but people generally have an idea of what they think they would or should do about this.

  5. lisa hickey

    This is THE question for the 21st century, IMO.My own moral compass starts with “First, do no harm.” And there are 4 points on my compass: ‘you, me, us, the world’. So do no harm to myself (me), to whoever i’m with at the moment (you), to friends, family, community, those I’m connected with (us) — and the world. And it’s become alarmingly clear to me over the past few years that there are abusers in power who are consciously harming others—often by perpetuating systems of harm—and a moral compass that includes “do no harm” to us and the world cannot in good conscious ignore the harm towards others. Sexism, racism, homophobia, white supremacy, human rights violations and ignoring the planetary emergency brought by climate change all include abuses of power and/or systems. And my moral compass makes it clear the actions I must take to change things.

  6. JLM

    .The decline in morality is an epidemic, but not a surprise. For almost a century, we have slowly eroded the environment in which we live from the time when a television show would not show a woman in pajamas to where we are today (sans PJs).It manifests itself in the visual world, the spoken word, story plots, and violence. We seem surprised when our children imitate what they see. We make no effort to ensure they are restricted as to what they are exposed to.We have destroyed the places where our moral compass was built, calibrated, and corrected – churchs, sports, youth organizations, Boy/Girl scouts.The people we entrust our children in loco parentis are drawn from the same weakened moral universe.We live in a society with such low standards that the rare person whose moral compass actually functions is an island in a cesspool.We only have ourselves to blame. We allowed this to happen. We made this happen. We are the problem and the solution.We engage in wholesale virtue signaling, but we really do nothing of substance to redirect the direction the world is going.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  7. Semil Shah

    I’ve thought about this lately, too. I wonder how much the Internet and its distribution contribute to it. Today, you can find 101 doctors to go see for your ailment and get a second or third opinion. The same can be said for finding messengers who create a message you like.

    1. Gotham Gal

      The message you like is not always what u want

  8. awaldstein

    I am honest and public about my feelings on this one.If you believe that the end justifies the means you are no friend of mine.People and politicians. Period.Ethics over everything.No greyness here.I’ve lost a number of old friends over this. So be it.

    1. Gotham Gal

      For sure

  9. Renee Zau

    I would much rather be a whistleblower than an accomplice to the “something bad going on,” which is how I view being silent.

    1. Gotham Gal


  10. jason wright

    “If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud” – Nassim Taleb.

    1. Gotham Gal

      nice quote.