Drinking and Driving Term Paper

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Drinking and Driving

Although this report is about the book that was written by Rushworth M. Kidder called "How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living," the paper is more of an opportunity for restoring face and candor with the University. We all have little problems and at times even big problems. "Sometimes we duck them. Sometimes we address them. Even when we address them, however, we don't always decide to resolve them. Sometimes we simply brood endlessly over possible outcomes or agonize about paths to pursue." (Kidder, 1996)

I would like to think that I attend a University that has faith in one's ability to be a student first, regardless of a person's minor blips in an almost perfect life. There are times when poorly thought out decisions a person makes can come back to haunt him or her. Like the majority of the world, each person knows right from wrong because that part of life doesn't really take much effort. However, sometimes that line of right and wrong is accidentally crossed such as when someone is breaking a law, departing from truth or a deviation of one's own moral code of conduct.

One of the most interesting points that I gathered from reading "How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living," was the fact that there are basic differences in regard to an individual's rights vs. A community's rights. If a man has made amends and paid his debt to the legal process for an offense such as, well -- let's use drinking and driving for example, if the person has rectified his past, shouldn't a community such as this fine school be allowed to reinstate their faith in that person as a student? Shouldn't the University be willing to allow this person to put his past behind him or her?

Drinking and driving is a short-term life decision in many cases. That decision may or may not be a true insight into one's character. Consider the person who is not an alcoholic and who rarely drinks. If he or she has a couple of beers one night and drives and gets caught, is this his life? Should an out of character short-term decision be considered a person's long-term life pattern? Of course it should not be. The one time thing was out of character. "The brain does not finish developing until a person is around 20 years old, and one of the last regions to mature is intimately involved with the ability to plan and make complex judgments." (MADD, 2004) Now, should a University or community apply mercy over justice?

I have learned some statistics that are frightening. "In 2001, more than half a million people were injured in crashes where police reported that alcohol was present -- an average of one person injured approximately every 2 minutes. In 2002, an estimated 17,419 people died in alcohol -- related traffic crashes -- an average of one every 30 minutes. These deaths constitute 41% of the 42,815 total traffic fatalities. Incidence of intoxication (BAC of 0.08 g/dl or greater) for drivers in fatal crashes in 2003 was highest for motorcycle operators (29%) and lowest for drivers of large trucks (1%). The incidence of intoxication for drivers of light trucks and passenger car drivers was the same (22%)." (MADD, 2004)

This information has enlightened me about the seriousness of a person drinking and driving. There are tendencies in individuals who drink regularly and not everyone who has been caught drinking and driving is like that. "There is evidence that heavier drinkers prefer to drink at bars and other person's homes, and at multiple locations requiring longer driver distances. Young drivers have been found to prefer drinking at private parties, while older, more educated drivers prefer bars and taverns." (MADD, 2004) I know the community and school consider the 'Three Principles for Resolving Dilemmas' mentioned by Kidder. With the understanding that drinking and driving is bad, each case may have extenuating circumstance though.

Thus, if the school did what was best for the greatest number of people, they must also consider that people, especially new students, routinely get themselves into unpredicted problems of their own making. At times it is better to look at an individual case instead of what is best for the majority. The rule-based thinking of living the life as a type of example for human laws or maxims is often not possible. There are times that it could be considered best not to do what everyone else is doing. In the case of drinking and driving, learning from the first time offense gives one an experience that he or she can fall back on to say, wow, that was dumb, I would never do that again. And of course, there is always that Golden Rule. If the administration of the University were in the shoes of a person who was caught drinking and driving, they would expect to have their candor restored by their peers if it were at all possible.

An individual, who has been caught drinking and driving yet, understands the consequences and does everything possible to make his or her life better for the future should be given an opportunity. Kidders' book is a blue print for the person who needs guidance. "This is a book for those who want to address and resolve tough choices through energetic self-reflection. Those are the people, after all, whom we often think of as "good" people. They are good, we say, because they seem to have some conscious sense of vision, some deep core of ethical values, that gives them the courage to stand up to the tough choices. That doesn't mean they face fewer choices than other people. Quite the opposite: Those who live in close proximity to their basic values are apt to agonize over choices that other people, drifting over the surface of their lives, might never even see as problems. Sound values raise tough choices; and tough choices are never easy." (Kidder, 1996)

The University should gladly restore faith in an individual who was caught for dinking and driving but follows Kidder's logical progression of steps to revaluate and to change their life so it remains a positive experience. If a person were to live by the book's Nine Checkpoints for Ethical Decision-Making, the University should see the benefits of having a student, even one with at drinking and driving blotch on his or her record as a positive addition to the overall team. The points are: Recognize that there is a moral issue; determine the actor; Gather the relevant facts; Test for right-versus-wrong issues; apply the resolution principles; investigate the 'trilemma,' make the decision, and act on it; and revisit and reflect on the decision.

So in English what does this checkpoint lifestyle entail? First, it is important to recognize that that life is full of moral issues and we as people need to identify these issues such as never drinking and driving again. This will help us live within the established social conventions. Determining the actor let's us comprehend who has a problem and what are we morally obligated to get involved in. Gathering relevant facts helps us become better decision makers. Understanding the implications of facts is eye opening. "Heavy drinking over many years may result in serious mental disorders or permanent, irreversible damage to the brain or peripheral nervous system." (MADD, 2004)

Testing for right-versus-wrong issues in cases like drinking and driving is still necessary. From that a paradigm evaluation can be made to consider justice vs. mercy. These points then allow a person to locate a methodology that can help resolve any problem. "Mandatory server training saves about $200 per driver in medical, non-medical and quality of life costs, but costs only $59 per driver -- a savings of more than three to one." (MADD, 2004)

Then checking of there are alternatives to come to a viable solution. But a person following these principals is then in a position to act on the solution to whatever problem. Thus, abstaining from ever drinking again for example would eliminate the problem completely. But, at times it is good to have experiences to use as reference points for revisiting past accomplishments as well as mistakes.

In conclusion, one might ask that if the University were to reinstitute candor on a student who has been caught drinking and driving, doesn't it matter that people do bad things? Of course it matters, however, people can change. Although this report was about the book written by Rushworth M. Kidder called "How Good People Make Tough Choices: Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living," the paper can be seen as an opportunity for the University to consider that we all have little problems and at times big problems. Each person knows right from wrong because that part of life doesn't take much effort. But, sometimes that line of right and wrong was accidentally crossed even when someone…

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