Although we may all strive to behave ethically, a gap often exists between the ideal outcome and what can realistically be accomplished. We acknowledge up front that ethical perfection lies beyond reach for virtually all of us humans, even if we could completely agree on the ethically correct response in every situation. And, unfortunately, good intentions may prove insufficient to ensure that wrongs will not occur. An effective response requires developed skills, planned resources, the right information, and a keen awareness of one's personal ethics.
It seems fitting to quickly review underlying values and virtues that should guide ethical judgment and the issues we raised in this module:
• Do No Harm: We should work to ensure that the potential for damage is eliminated or at least minimized to the greatest extent possible.
• Respect: Individuals have the right to decide how to live their lives so long as their actions do not interfere with the rights and welfare of others.
• Dignity: We must strive to understand cultural, gender, and economic diversity and other ways that people differ from ourselves. We must work to eliminate biases that support prejudices and point us to discriminate unfairly.
• Excellence: Maintaining competence, doing our best, and taking pride in our work form the foundation of education.
• Be Courageous: The truth is that it often takes a strong backbone to actively uphold ethical principles, especially when one observes unethical actions perpetrated by others.