In some communities, Santa Claus is replaced by a crotchety, fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure who gives the gift based on how impish or admirable the child has been.

Why should we be ethical?

The stickler to the rules or the teacher's pet does seem to have it all though. Good grades, parents' validation, teacher's appreciation, everybody's attention, and according to the society who claims this unquestionably- a promising wealthy future. They must be doing something right. And what do the average students among us get after a few moments of unethical fun? taunts, punishments, scolding, and criticism. It seems still better than a back-bencher or a 'bad example', the guy/girl who is supposed to have 'a doomed future'. 

The good guy:

Society has this list of unspoken norms which is supposedly the guide to having the perfect life 'salvation'. Some of the rules include (subject to minor changes based on one's surroundings and religion):

  • Do not cheat in exams
  • Do not smoke or drink
  • Do not engage in any physical relationship before marriage
  • Always obey elders
  • Do not waste much time partying with friends
  • Always reach your school/office on time
  • Do not use abusive language
  • Do not masturbate
  • Refrain yourself from vulgar jokes
  • Always sleep on time
  • Refrain yourself from junk food

 Mysteriously enough, this list is known to all, and yet somehow no one seems to have the desperately wanted life. Is it because no one has ever 'paid the price' by these small compromises or is it because the list is flawed?

Evidence au contraire:

Once, during a quantum physics experiment by the scientists Stern and Gerlach on the direction of angular momentum of the silver atom, no results were observed even after setting the apparatus correctly. Exhausted, Gerlach started smoking a cigar. Miraculously, the smoke from the cigar reacted with the silver used in the experiment and the results were observed on the screen. This led to a ground breaking discovery in the field of quantum physics, that the angular momentum is quantized.

Beer has had an invisible hand in some unbelievable accomplishments, inventions and achievements. It helped the discovery of Carbon dioxide, oxygen and six other gases. It helped the invention of refrigerator, the discovery of pasteurization and germ theory, the invention of long neck bottles, invention of the thermometer and making of the pH scale.

The taboo against masturbation is slowly becoming extinct as more and more people are advocating it. It has scientifically proven to relieve stress, help sleep better, boost one's mood, reduce cramps during periods (for women), release sexual tension, improve blood flow, improve sex and has countless other benefits. 

Millions, if not billions of people are trying to be a stickler to all the rules and slog all day and all night to leave no stones unturned to be like Elon Musk- a guy who smokes weed, is divorced thrice, and has a messed up sleep schedule, and is most certainly not a stickler to the rules. 

The Ethical dilemma:

Since childhood, we have been taught to be ethical. Very few of us, readily agreed to do so without any desire to receive any reward or appraisal for the same. But when the rest of us argued, we were told that all our desires come true by being ethical. Soon, when we realized that it is not the case, we started breaching the rules and since then, it has been a constant battle- which rules to follow and which to breach?

When your lifelong dream is to be a journalist, is it okay to cheat in trigonometry in class 10th?

When it's your father's birthday, is it okay to lie at work about having a severe stomach ache?

When being with a certain person makes you ten times happier, is it okay to have a girlfriend/boyfriend in college?

When you are aware of the ill-effects of drinking and still want to drink occasionally, is it still not okay?

When your parents' religion prohibits you from eating certain foods but you are an atheist, will it be too bad if you ate them secretly?

When you just moved to a metro city and are marveled by it's nightlife, will ruining your sleep schedule for a while affect your future goals?

When you are too good at dancing and want to drop college to make dancing a full time profession, is it okay?

From all the ethical principles taught to us by the society, how to know which ones to adapt and which to ignore?

The uncomplicated way:

The easiest way to get out of all the questions is to just follow all the rules. But how unfortunate would it be if in a parallel universe Gerlach didn't smoke? or perhaps even more if you studied forcefully for a subject you don't like, and yet your friends scored more by unfair means. Of course, there are people who still won't regret not using unfair means and for them, the reward is uncomplicated life decisions, and no dilemmas to overthink about. But for most of us who will regret, what if we cheat in the next exam and score less? or worse get caught cheating?

Why are ethical dilemmas necessary?

Our choices define who we are. Without them, we would be in absolutely no control of our life. It is what gives us a sense of individualism. It is what makes us think about life and people. They do often create differences and lead to revolutions. But then how different would robots be from humans if humans didn't argue or fight with each other.

What makes the decision making process thrilling is not knowing which decision would lead to a better outcome. And in a physical world that observes the butterfly effect (chaos theory states that the details of a tornado can be influenced by minor perturbations such as a distant butterfly flapping its wings several weeks earlier), it is impossible to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. We cannot predict what we will achieve or win in the future, what we can at least do is shape ourselves, shape our morals and our conscience, so that we take pride in who we are and are not fooled when the society tells us to be a certain way. We cannot and should not escape making these choices, what we can do is just try and stop our brains from exploding whilst making the choice. We can try to follow all the rules and then try breaking few at a time, see what comes naturally and let Belsnickel decide if we have been impish or admirable!

.    .    .