Question: Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
My problem stems from an ethical dilemma, which I have been emotionally battling ever since childhood. I always give money to a homeless person on the street, although part of me feels like walking away and not parting with the money. This may seem mundane, but most of us have conflicting views on the correct response to this situation, and therein lies the fundamental problem.
This matter is of special importance to me as we have been cultivated to participate in charity and help the underprivileged in any way possible. However, this also throws up many relevant and pertinent points:
- It is difficult to establish the homeless person’s actual needs, and therefore it is not easy to make a fully considered ethical decision without delving further into it.
- It is hard to presume what is going on in his life, though probably not very much, but what made him grow to be what he has. Should I ask him about it before handing over the money, and what could be the outcome of asking this question?
- Most importantly, is he dealing with an addiction of any kind? And if I do hand over the money, I would not be helping him, and on the contrary, I would be further fuelling his bad habits. This would be contrary to what I was expecting to do, which is to relieve some of his financial pressure for the day.
- Rather than giving money to one person, would it be better to donate to some charity that helps homeless people or maintains shelters for them?
- Would the weather on that day affect my decision, especially if it is a cold or rainy day?
- Rather than giving hard cash, would it be more prudent to buy him a fresh, hot meal instead?
The above points underline the problem I face and the dilemma it brings up. Ideally, I would like to balance wanting to help the homeless person while focusing on whether my resources are being optimally utilized on him. Maybe buying that hot snack could be the solution or a small cash donation to a charity that has the experts to deal with the bigger picture.
For me, the above demonstrates that ethical issues are far more complex than they seem, and that also applies to ethical issues at work if I take a larger holistic view on the same. I would always want to run through every possible course of action and the outcomes of each scenario and then take it one step further by consulting with colleagues or seniors before arriving at my final decision. The above, in my opinion, is always the best way to solve a problem, or the kind of ethical dilemma which I have discussed above, along with the solution to the same.