It’s all about the Grey Area
By Ridley Browder
Imagine that you have just received a 100% on a quiz. However, when the class reviews the quiz, you find that one of your questions was incorrectly graded. Do you ask the teacher to correct your grade, or do you keep the grade you have been given? You believe that you really do not deserve the perfect score. Now, imagine that you have just found $20 underneath the desk infront of you. Class has ended, and the person that was sitting in front of you has already left the classroom. Do you keep the money, or do you try and find that person? Are you sure that the money belongs to the person that was sitting in front of you?
These scenarios are all possible moral issues that we could face on a daily basis. Is it okay to keep the 100%? In this case it is the teacher’s mistake. Or, is it your moral duty to live with what you have actually earned? In the long run, a simple grading mistake will not impact your future. However, a series of small everyday moral dilemmas shape the people we become; they shape the society we will form (Halberstam).
Typically, we define our actions as either good or bad. However, in a situation like the grading error, it is difficult to find what the proper course of action would be. Everyone will have a different way of thinking; someone’s course of action, justifiable, will be different than that of another person’s. Therefore, we should stop classifying actions as completely right or completely wrong but realize that although there are two sides to every coin, there are also grooves and scrapes that cannot be seen from the common eye (Halberstam).
First, however, we must think about where our beliefs come from.
The coin—smooth at first—is a symbol of perfection. Throughout time, though, the coin experiences a series of changes that tarnish its pure look. Similar to the coin, we as humans start out as innocent babies, waiting for the world around us to shape the people that we will become. Before our first steps, our sense of right and wrong has yet to take form. For the first part of our lives, our parents try to teach us how to handle moral dilemmas. Because children must only complete simple tasks like eating, attending school, and sleeping, their rules and guidelines are also simple. In other words, it is easier for a parent to tell their child not to throw their spoon while eating because that action would be overall inefficient to the child eating their dinner quickly, but telling their child about the morals of race would be more difficult because the child could not fully comprehend such a comprehensive issue. Unfortunately, a parent’s own experiences and educational background limit their ability to teach. To ask a question about race to a father who grew up in South Carolina in 1966 would be different that that of a father who grew up in California in 1966. The same would apply to questions about morality (Halberstam).
Once children grow out of childhood into their young adult lives, parents are no longer the only influences to a child’s ethical beliefs. Middle school and high school allow us to begin to build our perspectives as we notice the beliefs and actions of our teachers and peers. Teachers and peers, however, are also limited by their own educational backgrounds and experiences.
However, an exception lies in the constant attendance of school where new ideas and history intertwine to create a world full of critical thinking and analyzation. Although parents attend atmospheres like their respective work places or religious facilities, school allows for children and adults alike to listen to new information and to interpret their own ideas.
Finally, after the rudimentary years of mathematics and basic language, teenagers enter the world of responsibility and problem solving. Although new adults cannot rely on their parents, teachers, and peers, they can remember the knowledge from the lessons they have learned from their respected elders or acquaintances. Even if a student’s instinct is to reject everything they are learning and rebel during high school, in their adult lives, they will still remember the past; they will rely on their parents’ lessons instead of the physical entities of their elders. As we mature, we remember the moral and ethical lessons from our past. Our moral beliefs come from our past; they come from our parents, teachers, and peers. A child who grows up in a rural part of the country will differ from that of a child who grows up in the city. But neither’s perspectives on morality is true or false (Halberstam).
It is all about the grey area—a common term to describe a complicated solution to an issue. No problem or issue is black or white; no solution is factually right or wrong. However, in my opinion, I would never commit any actions such as murder or theft because those actions to me are immoral. But, if murder is so evil to me, why would anyone else want to kill someone? Their knowledge and critical thinking skills have been wired differently than mine have been. In today’s society, we treat murder as an atrocity to humanity. Some parts of this society, however, support the use of the death penalty to criminals and support wars occurring miles away where millions of soldiers are murdering each other every day. These actions under these conditions are justifiable to most of society, but murder under the wrong circumstances it not. What makes certain circumstances correct or wrong is subjective. Therefore, once again, actions like murder may seem black and white, but it is all about the grey area (Grannan) (Gordon) (Halberstam).
So, should you keep the 100% for your paper?
No, it is not okay to keep the 100% for your paper because you have not earned it.
Yes, it is okay to keep the 100% because it was a simple grading mistake that really is not that big of a deal.
Yes it is okay to keep the 100%, but you should talk to your teacher, first.
No, do not talk to your teacher at all; it does not matter what they think.
You should definitely make the teacher change your grade even if they are reluctant to change it to the correct percentage.
Most issues require critical thinking to understand the problem and potential solutions. There are many different outcomes to any given situation. How a person chooses their course of action is based on their background of knowledge and experience. Therefore, everyone will not only take but will create their own path, even if it seems morally wrong in someone else’s eyes. Thus, before judging whether something is right or wrong, consider the grey area. Consider the scratches and grooves on the coin. Consider that not all issues are black and white. Consider the reasons behind a person’s actions. Without an open perspective on morality, we will all find ourselves in a continuous circle: judging everyone or everything on knowledge we think we have, but not with what is actually the truth (Grannan) (Gordon) (Halberstam).
Gordon, John-Stewart. “Modern Morality and Ancient Ethics.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy ,www.iep.utm.edu/anci-mod/.
Grannan , Cydney. “What's the Difference Between Morality and Ethics?” Encyclopedia Brittanica, Encyclopedia Brittanica , www.britannica.com/story/whats-the-difference-between-morality-and-ethics.
Halberstam, Joshua. “Right and Wrong in the Real World.” Greater Good , 1 Mar. 2006, greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/right_and_wrong_in_the_real_world.
Hulme, David. “Right and Wrong.” Ethics and Morality: Right and Wrong, 2000, www.vision.org/visionmedia/ethics-and-morality-right-and-wrong/739.aspx.
Sproul, R.C. “The Difference Between Ethics and Morality.” Ligonier Ministries, 14 Oct. 2015, www.ligonier.org/blog/difference-between-ethics-and-morality/.