Source of Our Morals

One thing I have noticed since coming to PA and meeting new people from so many different backgrounds and cultures is that people have different ideas of what is morally right and wrong. Many factors come into play when deciding where a person gets his or her values. From the community you were raised in, to your parents’ values, to your own inherent intuition all have a great effect on how you form your moral principles. But how much does your school environment play a part in your code of ethics? And can a school change your values? But first, when do people develop their values? Are they set in stone at an early age? Or can they be formed over a period of a lifetime, gradually being changed and molded to people’s various experiences? I know for me, personally, my values that I had previously thought were irrevocable are constantly being challenged daily here at Andover, where a heated discussion over things such as plagiarism and lying can open up a whole new side to the issue. Suddenly, there now exist many shades of grey in between the black and white. Coming to a school such as Andover can really challenge and change a person’s values, since you are susceptible to so many different voices and opinions. Many people speak of the infamous “Andover Bubble,” of getting so sucked up in the whirlwind of academics and clubs and athletics, that one loses sight of what’s going on in the real world. But I believe the opposite effect occurs too. With such a concentration of contrasting viewpoints and beliefs, students gain a larger perspective on many ethical issues and are able to make many better-informed opinions. But school is not the only source of a person’s moral values. As previously mentioned, the students at Philips Academy come from, literally, a myriad of different backgrounds. Culture and family values also play an important role in developing a person’s ethics. If your parents both work for non-profit charity organizations, and you are constantly reminded of those out there that are less fortunate, then the idea of non sibi is probably much more cemented in your mind than that of someone from another background. At the same time, if you are constantly piled on with pressure to achieve high grades and do well in school from your parents, then there is a higher level of desperation to plagiarize or cheat versus a student from a more relaxed family background. But most importantly, no matter what your cultural background, school, religion or family, your values are individual to yourself and are a result of your own instinctive beliefs of right and wrong.