The Fifth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Best of Ethics 2013

Ethics Story 2013

I decided to start with the Best in Ethics this year, in contrast to other years, on the theory that it would get things off to a positive start in 2014. What it did, instead, was make me realize how negative Ethics Alarms was in 2013. Either there wasn’t much positive going on in ethics, or I wasn’t seeing it. My thanks to those of you who send me nominations for Ethics Heroes (and other stories); even when I don’t write about them, they are valuable. Please keep them coming. In the meantime, I pledge to try to keep the jaundice out of my eye in 2014. Things just can’t be as dire as they seemed last year.

Could they?

Here are the 2013 Ethics Alarms Awards for the Best in Ethics:

Most Important Ethical Act of the Year:

The U.S. Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, paving the way for the universal legalization of gay marriage. Yes, it was a legal decision, but it was also based, as all such culturally important decisions are, on a societal recognition that what was once thought to be wrong and immoral was, in fact, not. This is ethics, an ongoing process of enlightenment and wisdom about what is right and wrong, and the U.S. Supreme Court did its part. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Dick Hoyt

hoytsI don’t think I’ll have to explain why Dick Hoyt is an Ethics Hero.

Rick Hoyt has cerebral palsy and has been a quadriplegic since childhood. When he was in middle school, he told his father, Dick, that he wanted to compete in a charity marathon for a basketball player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Dick Hoyt agreed to push his son’s wheel chair in the race. When it was over, Rick told him, “Dad, when I’m ‘running,’ it feels like I’m not handicapped!” Touched and inspired, Dick Hoyt, 72, went on to push his son, now  51, in 1,091 events, including 252 triathlons, 70 marathons, 94 half marathons, and 155 five-kilometer races. They have never finished last. The father-son team is preparing to compete in their 31st Boston Marathon next week.

When they compete in the triathlons, Dick pulls his son in a boat tied to a cord as he swims, and pedals for him on a tandem bicycle for the cycle round. In 1989, the family set up the Hoyt Foundation which has the goal of helping disabled youths participate in activities that their disabilities would normally preclude.

Rick says his only wish is that he could make his dad sit in the chair and push him for once.

Every now and then, I learn about people whose kindness, selflessness and ethical instincts place me in awe.

Dick Hoyt is such an individual.


Facts and Graphic: Opposing Views