Satrio Arismunandar

(Submited to the faculty, Prof. Edmundo M. Martinez, SJ, PhD at the Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines, February 2007)

My life’s goal

Since my childhood, I always wonder about where would have I been after I have died? Is there really any life after death? The supposed to be answer must have given significant influences on how I have been getting along with my life. I am now 45 years old, married and having two children. Before I have died, I want to do, create, and establish –as much as possible- good things for me, my family, my company, my community, and my environment. That is my life’s goal.

According to the teachings of my religion (Islam), every people have to take responsibility of all of his/her behaviors and actions. In this worldly life, we are not only responsible to ourselves and our family, but also to our society and our state, by obeying the law and Constitution. In the end of time, we submit our ultimate responsibility to our God.

In this sense, I consider myself as a religious person. But being religious doesn’t have to relate with a religion as an organized faith with its institutions, rituals, priests, etc. By being responsible on all of your deeds and actions, by exercising your social responsibility, perhaps you can be a better person than some other people who claimed to be a “people of religion.”

By the way, from the very foundation, I understand that all of us have free will. Off course, you won’t be taken responsible and accountable, if you are not able to exercise your free will, a capability to choose and decide which actions you want to take.

The ability for exercising your free will is a logical consequence of taking accountability and responsibility. The God won’t ask my responsibility about all my worldly deeds and actions if He doesn’t give me free will.

Ethical and unethical behaviors

From here, I want to talk about ethical behaviors. In my perspective, to make it simple, we can consider some behaviors as “ethical” if a person who behaves or does such actions seriously has taken into his considerations the good and bad sides of those actions.

Yes, maybe he will choose what he considered as the “good” one. But in real life, we sometimes have to face difficulties or dilemma to choose or decide whether we have to take such actions; since there are some actions which are not “100% bad” or “100% good”. We are not in simple “black or white area” but rather in “grey area.”

There are other problems too, since there is no single standard to describe whether a behavior is “ethical” or “unethical.” Different persons from different races, cultures, religions, nationalities, etc. maybe have different perspectives about which behavior is “ethical” or “unethical.”

But even in this “grey situation,” I think, we can judge the ethical or unethical of such behaviors by the seriousness or eagerness of the person to really consider the good and bad sides of his behaviors. This person really understands and concerns about the potentially good or bad implications of his decisions/actions to other people and to the environment; and he try his best to avoid the possible bad implications.

In the same term, we can consider some behaviors as “unethical” if a person who behaves or does such actions does not really care about the good and bad side of his actions. He pretends to behaves as if the options he chooses are “100% good” and no bad sides at all. Or he simply doesn’t care about the possible bad or negative implications to other people or to environment.

The relationship between my life’s goal and ethical behaviors

Now, I think, we are pretty clear about the relationship between my life’s goal and ethical behaviors. In setting my life’s goal, I had also considered the good and bad sides of my goal, its implications to me, my family, my community, and my environment.

How I considered the good and bad side of these things? I believe, my religion and other religions –even with their various doctrines, rituals, institutions, etc-- has the same “universal values” which supporting the good things, the good spirit, in our life. So, I can say that even in setting my life’s goal, I have made an “ethical decision” too.

To achieve that life’s goal, off course I have to take some actions and behaviors in this life. Since my actions and behaviors are the reflections of my mind, soul, and heart --the place where my life’s goal is settled in-- I believe my actions and behaviors would be the “ethical” ones too.
All my thinking, values and faith will be reflected in my behaviors and actions. My mind, soul and heart are the soil where I should cultivate the good things; so that it will materialize into my good and ethical behaviors and actions. That’s why very important for me to set my mind, soul and heart to align with my life’s goal. ***


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