Infidelity could also be authorized, however is it ethical? – Best Indian American Magazine | San Jose CA

We all have to make decisions in life before we can act. I guess everyone has their own way of making decisions. I also.

A long time ago I realized that I need to have a checklist to minimize mistakes and regret about mistakes. Before making any decisions, I just ask myself one simple question: “Does this decision pass the ‘SMEL’ test?”

SMEL is an acronym where S stands for Sustainable, M for Moral, E for Ethical and L for Legal.

The term “legal” is relatively simple as the laws are all written down. They are meant to be self-evident, although they may be interpreted differently by different people. However, the terms “moral” and “ethics” are not very simple and require explanation.

The following reference offers a comparison between ethics and morality in a very succinct and concise manner.

Ethics vs Morals

Ethics and morals refer to “right” and “wrong” behavior. Although sometimes used interchangeably, they are distinct: ethics refers to rules provided by an external source, e.g. workplace codes of conduct or principles in religions. Morality refers to an individual’s own principles regarding right and wrong.

Comparison between ethics and morality

What are you?

Ethics – The rules of conduct recognized in relation to a particular class of human action or a particular group or culture.

Morality – Principles or habits relating to right or wrong behavior. While morality also dictates do’s and don’ts, morality is ultimately a personal compass for right and wrong.

Where does morality come from?

Ethics – Social System – External

Moral – Individual – Internal

Why are we doing it?

Ethics – Because society says it’s the right thing to do.

Morality – Because we believe something is right or wrong.


Ethics—The definition of ethics depends on others. They tend to be consistent within a given context but can vary between contexts.

Morality – Usually consistent, but may change as a person’s beliefs change.

Gray Matters

Ethics – A person who strictly adheres to ethical principles cannot have any morals at all. Likewise, within a given system of rules, ethical principles could be violated in order to maintain moral integrity.

Morality – A moral person, although perhaps bound by a higher covenant, may choose to follow a code of ethics as would apply to a system. “Make it fit.”

Ethics – Greek word “ethos” means “character”

Morality – the Latin word “mos” means “habit”


Ethics—Ethics is governed by professional and legal guidelines within a given time and place

Morals—Morals transcend cultural norms

source of principles

Ethics are external standards provided by institutions, groups, or cultures to which a person belongs. For example, lawyers, police officers, and doctors must all follow an ethical code established by their profession, regardless of their own feelings or preferences. Ethics can also be viewed as a social system or a framework for acceptable behavior.

Morals are also influenced by culture or society, but they are personal principles created and maintained by individuals themselves.

consistency and flexibility

Ethics is very consistent within a given context, but can vary greatly between contexts. For example, the ethics of the medical profession in the 21st century are generally consistent and do not vary from hospital to hospital, but differ from the ethics of the 21st century legal profession.

A person’s moral code does not usually change and is consistent in all contexts, but it is also possible for certain events to radically change a person’s personal beliefs and values.

Conflicts between ethics and morality

A professional example of ethics at odds with morality is the work of a criminal defense attorney. A lawyer’s ethics may tell her that murder is reprehensible and that murderers should be punished, but her ethics as a professional lawyer require her to defend her client to the best of her ability, even when she knows the client is guilty.

Another example can be found in the medical field. In most parts of the world, a physician may not euthanize a patient, even at the patient’s request, in accordance with ethical standards for healthcare professionals. However, the same doctor may personally believe in a patient’s right to die, according to the doctor’s own morality.

The term “sustainable” needs some explanation. A decision may be moral, ethical and legal and yet may not be sustainable in terms of available finances, the impact on human health and the health of other species, the environment, the family impact, the community impact, the Impact on society in general, global impact and the like. Ecological footprint is one such factor that we all need to know about.

Infidelity may be legal, but is it moral?

An important point is that what is legal may not be ethical or moral. For example, infidelity is not against the law in many societies today, but most people would agree that it is definitely unethical and immoral. Not many people support the law of the jungle anymore.

Another point I would like to make is that someone who has a crystal clear conscience intuitively knows what is the right thing to do in a given situation because that person is used to listening to the still small voice of conscience, but there are only a few such people and the SMEL checklist would be of enormous help here.

The last point I want to make is that in many, if not all, cases the problem is not that people don’t know what the right thing is. They just lack the courage to do the right things. Accepting bribes and other corrupt practices when they become a mainstream phenomenon can be difficult to resist unless you are brave enough to figuratively swim against the tide. In such cases, it can be wise to not only use the SMEL test, but also to listen to your conscience and use common sense by asking yourself a simple question: “If what I’m choosing to do is somehow in traditional media and/or social media, would my family members, relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbors be proud of me or ashamed of me?” If the answer is the former, do it; If the answer is the latter, don’t do it!

So my final piece of advice is, “Adopt the strategy that works best for you, because you know yourself better than anyone!”

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