Morals and ethics

Let's take a look at the morals of some people, including myself. I'll give you some stories, hopefully anonimized enough for people not to recognize who the story is about. Ask yourself: what would you do in this situation?

You are traveling through Japan on a rail pass, which allows you to take any local train for free, but not the Shinkansen. The pass is valid for only a couple of days. After the pass has expired, you are supposed to buy a normal ticket again. Since Japanese people are very honest and kind, they never look at the date of the pass, so it's quite possible to use the pass for another day without anyone noticing. Would you?

And an addition to the previous story: suppose you can actually use that pass to enter a shinkansen, even if it's not allowed? Would you do it? Even for one station? Why or why not?

Here's another one: your boss in the company asks you how many holidays you have taken so far, and how much holidays you have in total for the current year. Will you answer him honestly, and tell him that you already used more than half of your holidays, or do you lie?

I twisted the above story a bit to make it more interesting. It didn't actually happen this way, and the person asking for the holidays was not our boss, who already knew about them. This incident kind of inspired me to make this post, because two people at work, I will not say their names, asked me at the same time if it was a good idea to lie about this, so they could have more holidays. Of course both people are honest as saints, so they reported their holidays truthfully.

The last one then. It's about how people react to people that are not kind to them. Let's take person A and B. If person A is mean to person B, or person B thinks that person A was mean to him/her, how would you respond if you were B? Would you be equally as mean to A? Would you ignore A? Or would you do something even meaner to A?

Personally, I would ignore A. If it's a person I have to deal with every day I will try to reconcile, or deal with him/her in a normal way. I would definitely not return the treatment I have received. I think that's quite childish and immature. It's something I would expect from people just entering high school, not from employees or university students.

My personal philisophy is that anything is fine, as long as you don't hurt people. Even bending the rules a little, or ignoring them completely is fine to me if I'm not hurting anyone. I'll share another anecdote that happened to me a while ago.

I was sitting in the back of a car in the middle of nowhere. The Japanese person who was driving stopped at a traffic light. The crossing was in the middle of nowhere, and there was no sign of any car for 2 or 3 minutes. Any Dutch person would look carefully left and right, and then cross while the light was red. But not this Japanese driver. He unbuckled his seatbelt, opened his door, got out of the car and ran to the sidewalk. At this point I was quite confused, and I had no idea what he was doing. He ran towards the traffic light for pedestrians, pushed the button pedestrians use to signal that you want to cross the road, and ran back to the car! I was having a lot of trouble trying not to laugh out loud as he entered the car again. There's some Japanese politeness for you.

Still thinking about the shinkansen thing. I would not hesitate to take it if I had the chance of riding it without a valid ticket (and without getting caught, of course). Only if I was not being an annoyance to other people. In other words, I would ride it if it meant that other people who would normally ride it could also still ride it. In my eyes I am not harming anyone, but getting a free ride. Not everybody thinks the same way, though. Some might argue that you did not pay for your ticket but you are using the Japanese rail system. They will have maintenance costs that they need to pay but cannot, because you did not pay for your ticket. So they will have to get more money from other people just because you didn't pay. That's why it's fortunate that only stupid foreigners will try to do this in Japan. Even so, the ticket price might increase by 0.0001 yen. Where is the limit? When do you decide not to take it?

What would you do?

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