The Cycle of Ethics

puzzle-150x150It has been said that values, morals and ethics are inextricably tied together. Values are what we learn from childhood; the ‘stuff’ we absorb from our parents and immediate surroundings. Morals are the intrinsic beliefs developed from the value systems of how we ‘should’ behave in any given situation. How are we doing?

Ethics, on the other hand, are how we actually do behave in the face of difficult situations that test our moral fiber. In his book, “How Good People Make Tough Choices,” Rushworth Kidder notes four basic paradigms of ethical decisions: justice versus mercy; short-term versus long-term; individual versus community; and truth versus loyalty.

He goes on to define the concepts further:

  • The point behind the justice-versus-mercy paradigm is that fairness, equity, and even-handed application of the law often conflict with compassion, empathy, and love.
  • Short-term versus long-term, or now versus then, reflect the difficulties arising when immediate needs or desires run counter to future goals or prospects.
  • The individual-versus-community paradigm can be restated as us versus them, self versus others, or the smaller versus the larger group.
  • Truth versus loyalty can be seen as honesty or integrity versus commitment, responsibility, or promise-keeping.

Are we living our beliefs and values?

Expressing one’s personal grasp of ethics and life may not always be understood in the context of the world at large, the immediate environment, or even amongst the intimate others in the household. This is usually due to the fact that every person has some difference, small or great, in the development of their belief systems.

Belief systems are established early in life through environments of home, church, school, and social gatherings which help to mold and shape these beliefs. Most of these beliefs and patterns of behavior are established through the unconscious observations and experiences of childhood in the aforementioned environments. These I refer to as ‘outer’ experiences which are akin to the ‘nurture’ piece of the ‘nature-nurture’ developmental processes. Allow me to use my own ‘outer’ experience as an example.

I knew that I was adopted by the time I was five. My adoptive parents were ideal by some standards, demonstrating honesty, integrity, and willingness to address conflict with style and grace even in the most difficult of situations. Dad was a tool and die machinist, building plastic injection molds for General Motors optical division and was also a 32nd Degree Mason. Mom was an educator with a master’s degree in Music and English and taught middle school English and Literature.

They were a formidable team for an adolescent with growing pains, encouraging me to challenge and explore my world. My parents taught me that honesty was the best policy, even when the details may not be too favorable. They taught me the meaning of trust which was not being afraid even when I felt vulnerable. Of course that does not mean that I am able to apply that wisdom always, although age does have its advantages. They encouraged me to think and ask questions, even when they are unpopular.

I grew up in a Christian framework and didn’t explore other religions until an NDE spurred me to explore and hopefully discover the common thread that simply must be at the core of them all. There is a spiritual and material convergence in the fabric of life, if indeed all things are connected. Where we’ve [humans] held ourselves back has been the enigma, the cosmic conundrum of how to live in harmony with the natural world and therefore creation as a whole.

There are discoveries of natural laws, scientific ‘breakthroughs’ demonstrated by experiments at Los Alamos, for example. Some educators scramble to include these discoveries in their lesson plans and current event discussions. It often confronts superstitious belief systems that have plagued religions for millennium. Have we found new truth?

These discoveries and information sharing exponentiates as millions of people share with each other through social networks, blogs, newsfeeds, etc. Where is it taking us? Or rather, where do we want to go? Do we really have to let religious confusion trump common sense?

A New Millennial Mindset

SourceQualities-150x150Obvious bottlenecks occur in personal and professional environments. I still tend to ‘go deep’ in conversations even at the risk of being too ‘heavy’ because we avoid getting to really know one another in nearly every facet of our lives. Personal patterns need to be cleared of trash for solid relationships to develop. We simply must develop better relationships in our global village before it is too late.

Too often it is our own trash that we need to take out. P&Ls have taken precedence over building healthy strong relationships that encourage collaboration in life-friendly actions. Harvesting our past without judgment is the challenge of the day. A point of perspection dances in the balance of the seer’s vision, dangling in the undefined space of personal and planetary evolution.

Indigenous councils have been discovered to consider seven generations previous and seven ahead before making decisions that affect the tribe. We are one tribe now, so it would make sense that we would want to grow together. Now that we have common crises to address we can rally for the benefit of the world. Is that too lofty a dream?

Being sensitive is quite the notion these days. So is misunderstanding. Without clarifying what I mean by ‘sensitive’ I’m sure there are numerous perspectives that could be read into the sentence. What do I mean, ‘sensitive’? Conscious of the nuances of life, the view that compassion and understanding brings. In determining the need for change in our challenge for implementing new safeguards in our ways of life, it is known as metanoia – a change of mind.

Our influential predecessors marked the way to industrious albeit semi-destructive ways. The shift in paradigm is in realigning human and material wealth to serve a healthy planet and people. That’s a great notion, but how do we make it a practical reality. I, for one, believe it starts with holistic education and the integration of more organic ways of learning, connecting the natural cycles, rhythms and patterns of life.

Educational requirements now are contrary to the industrial-age model of education and physical plant structure that feigned our progress. The economy is tanking, which generally could be a sign that how and what we’ve been teaching has limited scope and vision. We need to take a divergent move and get everyone involved in the act, not just put it on the shoulders of those whom we ‘pay’ to address the issues.

Ethical behavior, the evidence of our beliefs, morals and values, leads us to consideration, if not confrontation of existing systems caught in the throes of dysfunctionality. Corporations and maligned profiteers act like dysfunctional families needing an intervention. Interestingly, the Mayan cycles of time refer to this period, or cycle of time, as that of “Ethics,” where those constructs of humanity not in harmony with the cosmos will self-destruct. A cursory look around the world seems to give cause for consideration.

How do we begin to affect change positively, growing as a family instead of being torn apart by our indifference?