August 13     

Today's quotation:

It is well to remind ourselves, from time to time, that "Ethics" is but another word for "righteousness," that for which many men and women of every generation have hungered and thirsted, and without which life becomes meaningless.

Jane Addams

Today's Meditation:

It's very easy in this age of rationalization and self-justification to allow ourselves to do many things that we may regret later.  This happens when we ignore the call of ethics, that part of ourselves that tells us what's right and what's wrong, what we should do and what we shouldn't do.  Jane's last sentence is strong, but I believe accurate-- without a strongly defined set of ethics, life can be quite meaningless.

We hear and see story after story about people who have "risen to the top" by harming others.  And when we watch those stories, we like to tell ourselves "I'm glad I'm not like that person."  But are we?  Are we following our true path?  Are we always doing what we know to be right in a situation no matter what the possible outcome?  It's difficult to do what is right sometimes when it means we may lose something we hold dear, or miss out on an opportunity that we really want to have.

We see this in action every day now.  How much plastic should we use?  Should we walk to work or drive?  How can we cut back on our driving in order to lessen-- even by a fraction of a fraction-- the amount of pollution we put into the air?  Do we buy goods that are made in other countries because they're cheaper, even if it means that the people who make goods in our own country suffer?  Do we contribute to the community and sacrifice something that we want to do for ourselves?  Do we pay all the taxes we're supposed to, or do we find a way to cheat that we know we won't be caught for?

Ethics really is about choice.  We have decisions to make all the time, and we need to be sure that we don't ignore our ethics when we make them.  The stakes are extremely high, both on the world level and a personal level, so it's important that we take the time to know where we stand on what's right or wrong, for only then will we be able to make ethical decisions quickly and easily.

Questions to consider:

What do ethics mean to you?  Are they a driving force in your life, or something that you consider every now and then?

How can our personal ethics affect the world around us?

What are some of the effects of leaving ethics out of our decision-making processes?

For further thought:

Make ethical choices in what we buy, do, and watch.  In a consumer-driven society our individual choices, used collectively for the good of animals and nature, can change the world faster than laws.

Marc Bekoff

more on ethics



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