The law starts where common sense and ethics stop. To observe the law, you must know it. To be ethical, you must understand good behaviour and context. Growing up in a Catholic Church as an Altar Boy meant that I learned a lot about Religious instruction, including a strong grasp of the 10 commandments.
Our primary school, Munteme Primary School, shared the compound with Munteme Parish Church. The Priests were also our teachers. A Priest would walk into any class just about break-time and all students stood up. “Good morning Children of God”, he would say with slight variation. “Good morning Fr. We are glad to see you. Thanks for coming to our class Fr.”, the class always replied in unison. “What is the first commandment?”
The first student to answer correctly would sit down.
What is the second commandment?
The Priest would ask, one by one up to 10. Those who remained standing would be asked to explain the meaning of each commandment. The grilling would last about 10 minutes. Pupils spoke about it as a school legend of sorts. You dared not cross paths with the Priests without a solid grasp of the commandments. By the time we were in primary five, we knew the 10 commandments so well.
Looking back, our Priests gave us a firm foundation for ethical conduct and good citizenship.
When you know the law, you become empowered and confident.
Indeed, many parents who bring their children to me for career guidance and mentorship, I give them the task of reading the 10 commandments, the constitution of the Republic of Uganda and the code of ethics of professional sportsmen. Everyone needs this knowledge to win. It is difficult, if not impossible, to comply with that you do not know. The law is here to stay with us, embrace it. Read it.
Every day we are faced with ethical dilemmas in our respective professions. How do you respond? The answer is to always do the right thing. But how do you do the right thing when you do not know what the right thing to do in the circumstances is? Take a case of poisoned tablets.
After a thorough diagnosis of a patient, a doctor writes a prescription on a piece of paper. The patient’s minders take it to the pharmacy. Luckily, the drugs prescribed are in store. But the pharmacists note a small glitch – the expired dates indicate the medicine expired the previous day. And the drugs have not been kept at the manufacturer’s indicated ideal temperature. The question is: should the pharmacist return the money and advise the patient’s minder to visit another pharmacy or not?
You can only answer correctly if you know the right thing to do never issue “poisoned medicine.” The pharmacists must have a code of ethics that they understand, the law and generally be a person of good character. Unfortunately, many patients die from using expired drugs from their illnesses! The reason, failure to follow the law.
May you all professionals, politicians, leaders and the general public take time to read and apply a code of ethics, study the law and parent your children well. It is never too late to do the right thing.
I wish you a successful Sunday and a great week ahead. What to improve weekly? Follow me on twitter, @mustaphamugisa for weekly book titles which we review. To be inspired, visit www.mustaphamugisa.com.
Bernabas Mustapha Mugisa is Mr. Strategy, the architect of #Mindspark.