A few years ago, I started playing the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. Ever since, I think about my own person ethic in terms of the game’s alignment system. In case you are not familiar, I will explain briefly. You can also see the meme at the bottom of the page. Alignment charts are pretty popular for memes.
This system is based on two variables which we can loosely think of as ethics and methods. Someone in this system can be described as being ethically good, neutral, or evil. How they following through with their ethic can be described as lawful, neutral, or chaotic. If you are familiar with Game of Thrones, the meme below should be particularly useful. If you are not, the descriptions below the image will help a little. Some common comparisons are that Robin Hood would be Chaotic Good; he has no respect for the law, but he wants to do what is right for the people who deserve it. On the other end other scale, corrupt lawyers are used as an example of someone who is Lawful Evil; that person would write up an unfair contract or find a loophole to accomplish some kind of nefarious ends.
With this system in mind, I would say that I fluctuate between Lawful Good and Neutral Good. While I typically respect the rules and laws that I am presented with and try to work within them to accomplish the most good I can, there are times when I understand a need to operate outside the strict structure of societal rules and norms. So what does this mean for my belief system?
So what does this mean for my belief system? Generally, I live my life in a way that follows both the basic tenets of the New Testament and the values espoused by nerdfighters. In the simplest terms, that boils down to 1) not being a jerk to others and 2) doing what I can to decrease world suck. While I have some issues with the practices of organized religion in general, the teachings of Jesus Christ are something I can generally get behind. Showing those around you love, kindness, empathy, and forgiveness seems like a good general plan. The second influence I mentioned here comes from a community that developed around a pair of brothers who started creating YouTube videos in 2007. You can check out “How To Be a Nerdfighter: A Vlogbrothers FAQ” for more information about the community, but possibly the most important part is that we should be actively doing things to try to make the world better (or less terrible, depending on your point of view).
While all of this may seem very disconnected from scholastic ethics, I see these beliefs as deeply connected to the way I live my life. Behaving ethically or unethically in any situation will result in some sort of response. Committing any of the acts of academic dishonesty that we have talked about this semester would result in problems for me, those I care about, and others who I may not know personally but can empathize with, and it would also increased world suck for a lot of people, including myself. When considering academic choices, I also add another consideration to my ethic. I highly value learning and education. Cheating, in general, is antithetical to that mindset.