Tag Archives: respect

I Forgot George Washington’s Birthday! In Penance…

portrait_of_george_washington

If there is any American whose birthday none of us should fail to note and celebrate, it is George Washington. In my case, he is in good company, since I have had difficulty my whole life remembering birthdays of close family members and friends, with the exception of my son’s, once the Boston Red Sox finally won their first World Series in 86 years on the same date, and my own, which I have been trying to forget ever since finding my dad dead in his chair on that date eight years ago. Nonetheless, my failure to salute the first and indispensable President is especially disgraceful for an ethics blog, and I apologize both to George and to all of you.

Time flies: I hadn’t issued a post specifically devoted to George’s remarkable character since 2011. (Something has gone seriously wrong when one has 287 posts on Donald Trump and only six about Washington.) In penance, allow me to atone with my favorite entry’s on the list of ethical habits some historians believe made him the remarkably trustworthy and ethical man he was, ultimately leading his fellow Founders to choose him, and not one the many  more brilliant, learned and accomplished among them, to take on the crucial challenge of creating the American Presidency.

Directed to do so by his father, young Washington had copied out by hand and committed to memory a list called “110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation”  It was  based on a document  composed by French Jesuits in 1595; neither the author nor the English translator and adapter are known today. The elder Washington was following the teachings of Aristotle, who held that principles and values began as being externally imposed by authority (morals) and eventually became internalized as character.

The theory certainly worked with George Washington. Those ethics alarms installed by his father stayed in working order throughout his life. It was said that Washington was known to quote the rules when appropriate, and never forgot them. They did not teach him to be a gifted leader, but they helped to make him a trustworthy one.

The list has been available at a link here (under Rule Book, to your left), almost from the beginning of Ethics Alarms. Would that readers would access it more often. Here are my 20 favorite highlights from the list that helped make George George, and also helped George make America America: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Heroes, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy

Finally, A 2017 Inspiring Ethics Story! A 5th Grade Basketball Team Teaches Adults About Priorities And Values

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I love this story out of New Jersey.

A Catholic Youth Organization 5th grade basketball team out of Clark, New Jersey had played all season with an 11-child roster including nine boys and two girls. In late January the director of the CYO league informed the team that the word had come down from the archdiocese that playing as a coed team offended Jesus or something and thus violated league protocol T team would either have to remove the two girls from the team or forfeit the rest of its season.

The adults running the team had screwed up, you see.

Oops. Sorry kids. Our bad, you pay for it.

These options were unacceptable, and any 10-year old would see it. In fact, any 10-year old did. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Religion and Philosophy, Sports

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: From The Ethics Alarms Mailbag…”

panhandlerThe ethics quiz based on a reader’s off-site query regarding the ethics of giving to panhandlers when they are unlikely to use the gift wisely prompted a rich and thought-provoking thread. There were many “Comment of the Day” worthy responses, but I chose this one to represent them, in part because it is the most altruistic in spirit.

Here is my old friend Mark’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz: From The Ethics Alarms Mailbag…

Back in the days when street folks still asked for a quarter, I used to pass the same guy every day and always gave him $.50 ($2.50 a week). A co-worker seeing me give money to the guy mentioned that the same street person usually arrived to his “office” in a cab. I thought about it for a second and decided that my $2.50 a week – constantly available to me and replenished on a bi-weekly basis – was not enough to challenge what he did with it after it left my hands.

I am also one who will invite someone into McDonald’s with me and have them order what they like. I keep a few dollars in the car for the men and women who haunt the very large intersection near my house. My end-of-the-year charity dollars go to the local food banks.

I am no paragon (I will, however, agree to “exceptionally soft touch” or “sap”). It is simply my own personal practice to help when I can with a fair certainty that I will not – God willing – in this lifetime lack for a dollar (or someone to help me). Perhaps it’s just so much new age crapola, but I believe we get back what we put out. For this sap, it’s just that simple. I have enough trouble sussing out my own motives without trying to figure out strangers with a hard-luck story.

My $2.50 🙂

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Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Daily Life

Ethics Quiz: From The Ethics Alarms Mailbag…

burningmoneyimageReader and sometime commenter Elizabeth 2 e-mails…

Here’s a question for which I’d appreciate some input.

I am generally a sucker for street people who ask for money. I frequent the 7-11 for quick trips for needed household items, and over the past couple of months I’ve often seen a young woman outside, just sitting there.  She once asked me if I had any spare change:  I gave her $10.  A couple of weeks later, same question, same response.

Then a month or so after I had last given her money, I was in the same 7-11 and saw her buying lottery tickets.

Last week she saw me as I entered the 7-11, recognized me, and asked me again for “spare change.” I said “I don’t have any cash at all.  Sorry!”  I was not of a mind to help this young woman use my charity for the biggest scam of all time:  the Virginia Lottery.

My question is this:  if I am willing to part with money for a person who seems to need it, and to do so without the vetting that a charity usually gets from me, am I in any position at all to care or change my behavior because of the way the money is spent?  Admittedly I have no ability to realistically judge the true need of anyone who asks me for money, but if I have some evidence that makes me wary, should I act on it?

Or, since charity (monetary or otherwise) is an important pillar of character for me, should I simply give what I can when I can and make no judgement whatsoever?  After all, these people don’t have Form 990s for me to examine.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is it ethical to withhold charity from a needy individual because you regard her likely use of your gift as irresponsible?

Continue reading

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Filed under Daily Life, Quotes

The President’s Ethics Grades So Far

six-pillars

Is it fair to grade President Trump on his ethics after less than a month? Of course. If he wanted to pay attention to this area, the President would certainly seek an objective progress report. There has been enough activity in three weeks to give some preliminary grades. Ethics Alarms began this adventure with low expectations; after all, I have never read or heard a single statement from the President, ever, that suggests that he thinks about or cares about ethics at all. His behavior and opinions appear to be entirely governed by rationalizations, emotions, and impulse. However, we do have hope, and three weeks of a presidency is not sufficient to extinguish it. There is plenty of time for President Trump to address his ethical shortcomings

Let’s use the Josephson Institute for Ethics’ Six Pillars of Character for this exercise. All graded categories should be regarded as incomplete, and the offered grades as provisional only. Remember, these are ethics grades only.

I. TRUSTWORTHINESS, including Honesty in communication, Candor, Truthtelling, Reliability, Sincerity, Honesty in Conduct, Integrity, Loyalty

The President and his agents, like Spicer and Conway, have been especially loose with facts and assertions, some of which can be excused a bit as carelessness, but the sheer volume of misinformation is daunting. I suppose one could argue that Trump is reliably unpredictably, but that’s not what the value of reliability is all about. The President’s astounding verbal sloppiness makes it impossible to gauge sincerity (is he really out to ban Muslims, or just determined to keep out Muslim terrorists?) I score Trump relatively high on integrity, as shown by his Inaugural speech. Whatever he thinks he means, he really means it. (The contrast is Hillary Clinton.) Trump is loyal. Loyalty is a troublesome value that can be abused as often as not: he was loyal to appoint Ben Carson to the cabinet, but it’s still an unethical act, since Carson is unqualified beyond belief. But loyalty also covers conflicts of interest, and the appearance of impropriety. The President’s conflict of interest problems have not been seriously addressed, and won’t be.

He hasn’t been trustworthy, so his grade here is..

F

II. RESPECT, including Civility, Courtesy, Decency, Dignity, Tolerance, Acceptance, Autonomy Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Leadership

Comment Of The Day: “From The Ethics Alarms ‘For Each And Every Unethical Action, There Is An Equal And Opposite Unethical Reaction’ Files: Kurt Schlicter’s Irresponsible Column”

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The post about Kurt Schlicter’s warning and call to arms against a progressive establishment that he regards as having declared war on “normal” citizens attracted approximately the range of comments I expected, though I find the inclination of otherwise rational liberals to deny that the current progressive freak-out is unusual, unwarranted or worthy of alarm discouraging.

Here is Zoltar Speaks! reflecting on Schlicter’s rant  in his Comment of the Day on the post, From The Ethics Alarms ‘For Each And Every Unethical Action, There Is An Equal And Opposite Unethical Reaction’ Files: Kurt Schlicter’s Irresponsible Column.

I’m going to set aside some of the hyperbole and focus on a few points made by Kurt.

Kurt Schlicter wrote, ”Leftists don’t merely disagree with you. They don’t merely feel you are misguided. They don’t think you are merely wrong.”

I agree with this part.

Kurt Schlicter wrote, ”Once you get that, everything that is happening now will make sense.”

“Make sense;” that’s just ridiculous! Only if you choose to think like they are thinking can it “make sense”.

Kurt Schlicter wrote, ”They hate you.”

I agree that hate is taking over. This is a real problem for the left because the left has taken their attack the messenger to new levels and true hate is directed at the people they oppose NOT the ideological differences. The path of true hate usually has one end, violence.

Kurt Schlicter wrote, ”You are normal, and therefore a heretic.”

From their point of view that’s completely false; you are a heretic because you disagree with them, therefore you are abnormal. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

From The Ethics Alarms “For Each And Every Unethical Action, There Is An Equal And Opposite Unethical Reaction” Files: Kurt Schlicter’s Irresponsible Column

unraveling

Kurt Schlicter is a conservative, an author and a trial lawyer, and all three of those  factors are on display in his recent column for the conservative site Town Hall, titled, “The Left Hates You. Act Accordingly.” In saying that the essay is irresponsible and inflammatory does not  mean that I think it is badly reasoned or argued. Schlicter is passionate, articulate and skilled at his craft, and as much as I wish I could, it is difficult to take issue with his assessment of the current political climate and its implications.

Nonetheless, this is a deeply unethical article, irresponsible, reckless, and divisive. It is true hate speech, in that it both is constructed on hate and designed to create hate. It is also, I fear, very persuasive.

The column has its uses. If there are members of the Angry Left (perhaps the label needs to be updated to “The Berserk Left”) who are capable of recognizing where their current path may lead, Schlicter’s screed points the way. For three months, the entire progressive/Democratic/mainstream media complex has displayed escalating contempt for anyone who does not accept their favored view of the world, and has simultaneous demonized and marginalized half the country for the crime of engaging in the essential civic act of voting. If the furious anti-Trump “resisters” didn’t think this despicable defiance of traditional American responses after an election would spark a backlash, and a furious one, they have allowed hate to delude them. Schlicter’s column provides an accurate taste of what that backlash will be like.

Some excerpts, of a piece that needs to be read in its entirety:

They hate you. Leftists don’t merely disagree with you. They don’t merely feel you are misguided. They don’t think you are merely wrong. They hate you. They want you enslaved and obedient, if not dead. Once you get that, everything that is happening now will make sense. And you will understand what you need to be ready to do.

***

Understand that when they call Donald Trump “illegitimate,” what they are really saying is that our desire to govern ourselves is illegitimate. Their beef isn’t with him – it’s with us, the normal people who dared rise up and demand their right to participate in the rule of this country and this culture.

***

Oh, there are different leftist sects. There are the social justice warriors who have manufactured a bizarre mythology and scripture of oppression, privilege, and intersectionality. Instead of robes, they dress up as genitals and kill babies as a blasphemous sacrament. Then there are the pagan weather religion oddballs convinced that the end is near and that we must repent by turning in our SUVs. Of course, the “we” is really “us” – high priests of the global warming cult like Leonardo DiCaprio will still jet around the world with supermodels while we do the ritual sacrificing of our modern comforts. Then there are the ones who simply worship themselves, the elitists who believe that all wisdom and morality has been invested in them merely because they went to the right college, think the right thoughts, and sneer at anyone living between I-5 and I-95.

***

They are fanatics, and by not surrendering, by not kneeling, and by not obeying, you have committed an unpardonable sin. You have defied the Left, and you must be broken. They will take your job, slander your name, even beat or kill you – whatever it takes to break you and terrify others by making you an example. Your defiance cannot stand; they cannot allow this whole Trump/GOP majority thing to get out of control. They must crush this rebellion of the normal, and absolutely nothing is off the table.

***

So the only outcome is that one side wins and the other loses. There’s no truce to be had, no possibility of a tie. And the frightening thing is that the Left is so foolish, so stuck in its bubble that it has no understanding that it can only push so far before the people with all the guns and all the training push back. That’s the problem with kids who were raised on participation trophies and who never got into a fistfight – they don’t consider the possibility that they will lose, and lose hard.

***

You get the idea. The problem is that in light of what we have been seeing and hearing, that idea does not seem as extreme or hyperbolic as it should.

Thus the hatefulness of this piece has a real chance of taking root, but if it does, Kurt Schlicter will not be the reason. The conduct of the Left clears the way for such feelings and beliefs, and they are feelings and beliefs that a unified, democratic nation can not survive. All Americans have an ethical obligation to restrain these fight-or-flight instincts, and to soothe and mellow the anger and emotion that feed them. At the same time, the Left must stop the dangerous activities and rhetoric that inspired Schlicter to write what he did. They will lead increasing numbers of citizens to find themselves nodding their heads as his words, or similar ones, cause the blood to rush to their faces.

All citizens have to accept their duty to be responsible, respectful, and intimately, to trust in each other, our shared heritage and values, and the far-from perfect but still vibrant and essential culture we have created together. We are careering, as one, toward a deadly precipice. Our leaders have failed us by surrendering to powerlust, narrow loyalties and vengeance, so we have to stop ourselves. Screeds like Schlicter’s do not help, but the catalyst for his screed has been an irresponsible and self-indulgent abandonment of ethics–fairness, respect, prudence, honesty and citizenship—from people who seem awfully recognizable as those the writer evoked when he wrote,

” [A]ccept the truth that if we let them win we will spend the rest of our lives on our backs with a giant Birkenstock pressed into our collective face.”

Kurt Schlicter’s column is, as I stated at the beginning, unethical and hateful. It is also a warning, ignored at our peril.

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society