Deciding whether or not to publicly support an important cause proved to be a dilemma for me. I’ve given you four choices that I considered before I made my decision. Pick the option that best fits your ethical philosophy and see if you come to the same conclusion as I did. Leave a comment below if you have an/other idea/s!
By staying out of the event and remaining silent, I don’t need to worry about my views in being in the public eye. I can continue with my research without the possibility of being tagged as an activist. However, is my inaction really as inactive as I think? Is inaction ethical in this case?
By going on record and saying I don’t think this gathering is a good idea, I firmly place myself on one side of the debate. I surprise my friends who thought I shared their goal of promoting traditional land tenure but I effectively distance myself from activists and, in doing so, sever links that might hamper my ability to work in the country. But maybe this doesn’t feel like it was quite the right ethical decision?
Not attending the rally keeps the illusion of neutrality in one sense, even if I am honest and supportive with the community members that I’m working with. I run the risk of causing offense by declining the invitation to participate, but I am able to maintain my ‘outsider’ position as a researcher by not publicly showing close ties with this ‘hot topic.’ By creating this illusion, however, am I violating my own personal ethics, as well as those of being a transparent researcher?
By choosing to attend the rally, I stand firmly in solidarity with my friends and informants for a cause that I believe to be just. My presence makes me an advocate for indigenous land rights and this is a position that I am very comfortable with. But have I made the choice that will provide the most benefit for everyone involved? Did I inadvertently violate the value of beneficence in my selfish pursuit of justice?