Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ethics and Actions

“The right act can be identified as the one causing the greatest good and the immoral act as the one impeding it.” (Sahakian, William S. & Sahakian, Mabel Lewis. Ideas of the Great Philosophers. pg 31. Barnes and Noble Books (1993). ISBN 9781566192712)

The concept of ethics should be powerful at all times as we attempt to shape ourselves and the world around us to best fit the situations in which we find ourselves. The ethical solutions we discover will come from a wide base of sources and cannot be confined to what any one source believes to be true, right and proper. And as we grow, shift and change, we must keep in mind that what once seemed to be “safe and profound” may shift in values, causing us to shift in values. This is a lifelong task.

The reason for its importance is simple. We are going to communicate from a shifting platform of awareness to others who will receive the communication from a shifting platform. The reason for the shifting platforms is easy: the more we experience and lean from, the greater the potential changes in all of us. That reminds me of a conversation once reported to me that went something like this.

He said, “Are you sure?”
I said, “Positive!”
He said, “Only fools are positive.”
I said, “Are you sure?”
He said, “Positive!”

One of the important things we spend our early lives learning is our culture. Our culture is taught to us first by mom and then dad and then everybody else around us on a regular basis. After a few years we go to school and suddenly we discover that not everybody does or says the same things. What a shock. Often we assume that the way we do it is correct and the way they do it is wrong. That often leads to problems in a few years.

DeVito definition: “Culture consists of the beliefs, ways of believing and artifacts of a group. By definitions, culture is transmitted through communication and learning rather than genes.”

If we take any of this seriously we should proceed with caution every time we communicate, because even within families where “the same culture” was taught, we find differences. In our modern world we have very dissimilar cultures living and working together all the time. Since we should be looking for ”the greatest good” when we communicate we need as much preparation time as is available.

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