There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.
― Shel Silverstein
The controversy of what is “good” and what is “not good” is a discourse we, as a human species, are all too familiar with. Often times we are inundated with news stories, magazine articles, text books, photographs, videos, television shows, and discussions that continuously debate what goods, or values, need to be followed and protected by society. Arnett, Fritz, and Bell (2009) define “the good” as “a central value or set of values… that we seek to protect and promote in our discourse together.” (p.2) As we all ascribe to different values, the act of discourse acts as a way for people to dispute their standpoints on the issues at hand. For example, after the Sandy Hook and Newtown tragedy where teaches and young students were killed, feverish discourse was opened up about the safety of children in schools and the effectiveness of current gun laws. Various sides have argued their positions from their various standpoints as there is no all-encompassing version of what is good: some argue the continued right to bear arms is important and should not be sacrificed, while others argue the safety of school children is of the utmost importance. The values that are protected and promoted by each party in regards to the Newtown tragedy might have varied a few decades ago, when school violence was not as prevalent. The historical moment, or the current place and time in which a situation takes place, can affect “the good we seek to protect and promote,” and while society can concur that tragedies, like Sandy Hook, should not occur there is “significant disagreement on what communicative action should follow.” (Arnett, Fritz, & Bell, 2009, p.2)
At my current moment and place in time, I find myself aligned with a few values that I adamantly fight to protect and promote:
- the ability for people to choose for themselves
- equality and non-discrimination (in any form)
- team work
I am an advocate of pro-choice, not just in regards to women’s health issues, but in every aspect of life and society. I feel that people should have the ability and the right to choose what they believe in, how and where they choose to live and work, what values and beliefs they choose to follow, and how they choose to take care of themselves. My reason for believing this is personal – I have PCOS (poly-cycstic ovarian syndrome) and most likely will not be able to have children. I have known this since I was very young, and have decided that I am okay with it (as is my fiance). Knowing this, I see no real reason to keep my non-properly functioning organs if I really do not have to. I find it rather frustrating and deplorable that I, as a woman, cannot have a hysterectomy but my fiance can have a vasectomy, if he so chooses. My doctor attributes his decision of “no surgery” to my age and the fact that medical science progresses at such a rapid pace, that I may be able to have children at some point in the future. However, my fiance, who is the same age I am, can walk into his doctor’s office tomorrow and have his procedure done, with no questions asked.
This is also an adequate example of equality and non-discrimination. Men are allowed to make more choices for themselves than women are, as evidenced in the situation above. However, it is more than that, every day we see people who are discriminated against in so many ways. Have you ever been driving in a neighborhood that you were not familiar with, seen someone walking down the street, and locked your car doors? Why? Did they have a specific skin color? Was it because you felt you were in a dangerous area? What if that person was walking to the corner store for a snack or a drink, or were on their way to work or school? I try as hard as I possibly can to maintain an open mind and to refrain from making any types of judgements until I actually get to know a person. And even then, my perspectives on a person are open to change.
The final good that I believe in is team work. I believe that working in collaboration with others helps to broaden and enhance my experiences in both a personal and professional setting. Being a performer, I am constantly working with new cast and crew members, and we all have a common goal: to put on an amazing production. We all work together during rehearsals, using our personal strengths to help one another. For example, the dance captain will hold extra dance rehearsals out side of regular rehearsal time for any performers who may want to review any dance steps. Providing the extra time and dance rehearsals serves to make the performers more comfortable with the dance steps, and better able to execute the dance moves, which leads to a better overall performance. Also, working as a team at work allows for a more successful job experience. I am fortunate enough to work with individuals who are more than willing to offer their help at any given time. When I was out due to an unexpected surgery this past December, my teammates offered to step in and go to some of my meetings for me, so that my volunteers would still have the support that they needed even if I was not able to provide it.
It is difficult to express what one deems as “good” or right for oneself; in today’s society there are so many variables that contribute to qualifying a cause or action as good, that one can almost feel bifurcated when trying to figure out how to make a good or right decision. I hold true to the values expressed above and try to follow and protect them whenever and however I can throughout my daily life. What are some values you try to protect? Why?
Arnett, R. C., & Fritz, J. M. (2009). The Pragmatic necessity of communication ethics. Communication ethics literacy dialogue and difference (pp. 1-23). Los Angeles: Sage Publications.