Tag Archives: self-awareness

Comment Of The Day: “From The Ethics Alarms ‘It’s NOT Okay To Be White?’ Files: The Blacks-Only Opinion Section”

Prolific commenter johnburger2013 issued this epic two days ago, but I confess, I didn’t have a chance to read it until today.Knowing john and his work, I expected to be impressed, and I was.

This is one of my favorite genres of comment: the personal ethics odyssey with fearless self-evaluation. Such comments require bravery, honesty, and objectivity, and the author displays all of these here. This comment is especially helpful to me today, for I am going over a confrontation I had today during a seminar that left me annoyed and questioning my response.

Ethics audits of an episode, a day, a relationship, a crisis, a problem or a life are invaluable tools on the way to building a more ethical approach to human existence. I encourage everyone to do what johnburger2013 does here as frequently as they can. If you are willing to share it with us, I will be grateful.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, From The Ethics Alarms “It’s NOT Okay To Be White?” Files: The Blacks-Only Opinion Section:

Alright, Ethics Alarmers. I must declare that I had one miserable weekend. Apropos of absolutely nothing, and related to nothing on this post, I thought I would relate the weekend’s experiences, simply to show that Ethics Alarms is having a positive impact on your humble correspondent. This is long, so bear with me.

It all began this past Friday evening. Our son is 13, in eighth grade, and is considering high school choices. The top three are Catholic, and the main differences are the cultures within the schools. The top two choices are all-boy schools, one Jesuit and one Basilian. The other is co-ed. Great schools. Friday night’s descent into madness began with a declaration that the Basilian school is his preferable choice to the Jesuit, resulting in a very strange argument, with hurt feelings, confusion, chaos, and shouting (handled very well by little ol’ me, oh yes, indeed! Sheesh.). On an ethics scale, my handling of the situation is still being calculated as it has passed more than -3500 on the Kelvin Scale of Absolute Stupidity, perhaps setting a new world record.

Anger and recriminations festered until the next morning. I took The Boy to his HSPT prep class. Ah, yes. The exalted HSPT. The all-important, all-consuming, all-destructive HSPT upon which the entire fate of humanity rests. Discussions en route to the class included such observations as, “Great! You left your notebook at home. That shows real organization skills and concern for you to do well, son.” Ethics Score: 2.9, or possibly a 3, if you discount the yellow-to-red light I rolled through.

Then, I returned to home to get some stuff done before picking The Boy up from the class. I was already on edge, and discovered that the pooch had decided to enjoy some of my wife’s lovely tree ornaments and left the resulting elation in shreds in the middle of the living room. That lead to a stern pooch reprimand. Considering that his mind is simply a buzz with constant low-level static, he wagged his tail and asked for a treat. Considering the torn apart ornament, he did not get a cookie. Ethics Score: 6, as I realized that he is still a puppy, the red-coated Santa ornament looked an awful lot like his favorite stuffed jalapeño toy, and was hanging in the perfect spot so he couldn’t resist the temptation.

Aggravated by having to fix a door latch, which took longer than I expected, and cleaning up the destroyed ornament, and a host of other nuisances, I was late picking up The Boy, well, by 2 minutes and nobody was annoyed. The trip to get him though, completely fails to register on the Ethics Score Board because of the many cursings and deleted expletives still echoing in my car. Rush’s “Hemispheres” could not fix that problem. Wow.

After leaving school, I had to get new screws for the door latch. That is when things got really ugly. Mind you, all of this happened between 8:30 am and 12;30 pm. A mere four hours. See? Awful.

I intended to go a local hardware store to get larger flat-headed wood screws and sanding paper to fix the mess I made on the door’s frame. A ten minute drive took well over 30 minutes because of traffic (horrendous), bad drivers (way too many), incessant stop lights (why can’t they be synchronized to ensure traffic flow?!), and already frayed nerves. Now, this hardware store is where you go to get things you won’t find in big stores, and is generally a wonderful experience (except for that damn parrot that shrieks when I walk by, but that is a different story), and the employees are wonderful. For some reason, the entire city of Houston, Texas, decided to be in the store and the same time. I needed two screws and two anchors. Is that too much to ask? They remodeled since the last time I was in the store and moved everything around so I couldn’t find the screw section. The aisle markers hadn’t been changed so I was wandering around looking for screws. I give the store a two-point deduction for that.

At this point, I am no longer rational. I asked a fellow who I believed worked at the store where the screws were. He couldn’t tell because he didn’t work there. I hang my ethics head in shame at my response. I was rude, inconsiderate, and terribly unkind to this man, who was as pleasant as a person could be. I was completely in the wrong. He did not deserve my response. But, I was too committed to being a tool to stop. I walked away in disgust, and then found the damn screws and anchors, which I bought. Then, it dawned on me: I insulted a man with no justification. I had to make it right. Ethics Score: Zero. F-.

I searched the store for the man, and upon seeing him, I could tell he was thinking, “Here comes that jerk.” I approached him, and said, “Sir. I need to apologize to you. I was terribly rude to you and you did not deserve it. I sincerely apologize for my behavior. I am having a bad day and I took it out on you without any justification. Hope I haven’t ruined your day. Please accept my apology.” His response: Instead of giving me a much-deserved tongue lashing and possibly a kick in the ethics backside, he said, “Apology accepted. I could tell you were not having a good day. I hope your day gets better.” His Ethics Score: A+. My response: “Sir, you are very kind and I truly appreciate your considerate response.” We shook hands, and smiled, him patting me on the back, reassuring me that “this, too, will pass.” A very nice fellow.

My Ethics Apology: I hope a 1, especially because I resolved to settle down and reevaluate my behavior, which I did. My nerves mended and I was less agitated for the rest of the day. That evening, in the confessional, I confessed my terrible conduct especially to my wife, son, and that poor-unsuspecting hardware fellow. The priest gave me advice, absolution, and penance. Which I did. Continue reading

33 Comments

Filed under U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/17: Rushing In Panic Around My Boston Hotel Room Because I Didn’t Get My Wake-Up Call Edition”

“Man! I am BORED out of my GOURD!”

As one might expect, abortion is one of the topics that can be relied upon to spark a lively discussion every time it is raised on Ethics Alarms. This is because abortion is a true ethics dilemma, where valid ethical considerations point in opposite directions. In addition, this ethics dilemma cannot easily be solved by balancing, because determining which of the ethical values involved, personal autonomy and the primacy of human life, should hold the superior priority involves resolving conflicting definitions.Complicating things further is the fact that the three main ethics systems—reciprocity, Kantian ethics, and Utilitarianism— reach disparate conclusions.

The subject of this intense and extensive comment by Zoltar Speaks! is another commenters assertion that the unborn do not qualify as “persons” within the protection of the law because they do not, as far as we know, have self awareness and are incapable of thought. I personally detest this argument, but I’ll leave the exposition to Zoltar. He got extra credit for beginning with the trademark quote that Ethics Alarms uses to designate a “Popeye.

Here is the Zoltar Speaks! Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/17: Rushing In Panic Around My Boston Hotel Room Because I Didn’t Get My Wake-Up Call Edition:

 

“I ain’t gonna take it, ’cause I can’t take no more!”

My understanding from your comments is that you don’t agree with a lot of what abortion activists use as arguments. However, you’re regurgitating intentionally modified long standing definitions to fit an agenda instead of using the definitions as they are. You are not parsing the words of an existing definition, you are not simply misunderstanding an existing definition, you are literally adding things to the definition of “person” that do not exist in the definition.

You are saying that a person is not a person until they can think and feel, and that is by definition false (see below.)

You say that “intelligent, informed pro-choice advocates” talk about thinking and feeling is when a person becomes a person.  I don’t care who presents that as an argument, it’s false. It is literally uninformed, and since you used it in this way it is literally showing a low level of intelligence. It’s bastardizing the English language into agenda-driven rhetoric:

Bastardizing: corrupt or debase (something such as a language or art form), typically by adding new elements.

I looked up as many definitions for the word “person”  as I could find and I found an obvious common thread: Person: A human being regarded as an individual. A human individual. A human being. A human being as distinguished from an animal or a thing. An individual human. The common thread is human and individual. Tthere is nothing in any definition I could find that could be construed as holding that a person is only a person if he or she can think and feel.

 Human Being, furthermore, is a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance. Is an unborn child a human being? Yes. Continue reading

324 Comments

Filed under Bioethics, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, language, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, The Popeye

Political Opposition Incompetence: Will “The Resistance” Ever Figure Out That It’s Embarrassing Itself?

Today, May 1, another segment of the so-called “resistance” to the legal, democratically established Presidency of Donald J. Trump will be holding rallies to proclaim the “right” of foreign citizens to break US law by entering the country illegally, and to stay here unmolested as long as they don’t commit another serious crime, and maybe even if they have.  Despite its enthusiastic support from the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, this concept is so self-evidently bats that most American and even most Hispanic-Americans reject it, but never mind: we will hear and see passionate speakers all day long advocating the non-enforcement of essential laws and the adoption of some kind of bizarre system allowing illegal residents to be treated like legal residents as long as they limit their law-breaking to, say, just endangering the public by driving drunk.

I wonder if Mothers Against Drunk Driving agrees that illegal immigrants should not be treated too harshly for DUI convictions. Actually, I wonder if the anti-Trump, pro-illegal immigrant forces have enough self awareness to realize that their argument is worthy of the Bizarro World.

Incompetent, foolish sounding and acting political opposition to the party in power is in nobody’s interest, especially the U.S. democratic system. However, addressing this requires enough self-awareness to realize when your advocacy has crossed the line into absurdity. Currently a critical mass of Democrats and progressives lack self-awareness, and that’s an understatement. Continue reading

37 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Social Media

Super Bowl Sunday Ethics Quote Of The Day: Professor David DeSteno

pro-brady

“It’s not about the true facts, or about how honest you believe a group is, or what the group’s past behavior is. It doesn’t matter what sport it is, or what team it is, or even if it’s sports at all. Just being a part of a group, any group, is enough to excuse moral transgressions because in some way, you’re benefiting from it. Your moral compass shifts.”

—-David DeSteno, Northeastern University Professor of psychology, explaining why Boston fans believe the New England Patriots, their coach, Bill Belichik, and their star quarterback, Tom Brady, are as pure as the driven snow, while the rest of the country sees them as detestable

The professor’s point will be familiar to any Ethics Alarms readers who have perused the various pots here regarding cognitive dissonance, or even those familiar with the mantra, “Bias makes you stupid.”  However, he has done some interesting research on the phenomenon described in the Times Sports article this morning.

In a psychological experiment, researchers separated people into two groups and offered some of them an option: Complete a fun, 10-minute task, or take on a difficult, 45-minute one. Placed in a room alone, they were told to choose which task they would have to do, or let a coin flip decide. Either way, the person entering the room next would be left with the other task.

Afterward, those people were asked to rate how fairly they had acted, and 90 percent said they had been fair. Except that they were lying. In fact, they had picked the easy task for themselves, without even flipping the coin, wrongly believing that no one was watching…

DeSteno and his former student Piercarlo Valdesolo conducted studies that showed that even strangers placed into groups quickly start favoring the people in their group, as they would favor themselves, even if that group was created randomly, and only minutes earlier. Morality, as it turns out, can change by the second, and for no good reason.

Professor DeSteno told the Times that this isn’t a conscious decision, but an innate survival reaction…. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Research and Scholarship, Sports

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Hillary Clinton

hedge funds

Among her almost infinite flaws, Hillary Clinton is stunningly lacking in self awareness, and her statements often—astoundingly often—point to her own misconduct and ethical bankruptcy without her comprehending the self-indictment. She has tweeted, more than once, this sentiment, for example:

“To every survivor of sexual assault…You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed. We’re with you.”

…though Hillary was emphatically not “with” the women who credibly accused her husband of sexual assault, and still do. She will make statements to one group that are the exact opposite of what she recently said to another group, without batting an eye. Hillary actually committed the meta-lie of saying she never has lied, which is manifestly unbelievable. Then there was this Titanic-style gaffe…

“There should be no bank too big to fail and no individual too big to jail.”

…coming from someone who is, many legal experts believe, not already under indictment purely because she is “too big to jail.” (and then there is hubby Bill, who engaged in flat-out illegal election conduct in Massachusetts that you or I would have been arrested for, and didn’t even get a rap on the wrists.) Neither Clinton has any integrity at all, or shame either. It’s really quite stunning.

Last week, Hillary tweeted this howler:

Hillary Tweet 1

This is an example of a politician intentionally playing to class divisions, ignorance and bias, and worse, encouraging them. It is exactly like saying that it is “unacceptable” that Jimmy Fallon, who only hosts a silly late night show, makes more money than any cancer surgeon, special needs teacher or EMT alive. In some ways it is worse, because most people understand what those jobs are, and may  sort of comprehend the economic principles at work: if Jimmy Fallon drops dead, there is no replacement who will bring to the job exactly what Jimmy Fallon did. He is a unique commodity, and EMT’s are not. The statement is just an emotional attack on the fact that people value laughing over things that are objectively more practical, and entertainment salaries reflect that. Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Finance, Leadership, Professions, The Internet, U.S. Society, Workplace

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Week: My Progressive, Rational, Educated and Gay Facebook Friend”

stereotypes

Unlike most Comments of the Day, this one by Penn/Same Penn, who has two aliases here due to WordPress’s inexplicable habit of eating his posts, requires some back-reading to fully appreciate…but it is worth the effort.

The original post is about a Facebook friend’s mass condemnation of the Lone star State as a frightening, bigoted and  violent place where he would never set foot, in part because of his anger over Houston’s rejection last week of a bill that would expand LGBT civil rights in the city. My post noted that painting Texas with such a broad and harsh brush is itself bigotry—a position that cannot be rebutted, I believe—and reader Neil protested that the anti-Texas and Texans sentiment was just.

This inspired P/SP to one of the most eloquent and thoughtful posts Ethics Alarms has ever received, on any topic, and his is complex here, far ranging from its inspiration.

Here is Penn’s Comment of the Day on the post, Unethical Quote Of The Week: My Progressive, Rational, Educated and Gay Facebook Friend: Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Week: My Progressive, Rational, Educated and Gay Facebook Friend

texas-alamo-H

“I never want to step foot in Texas. I don’t even want to change planes in an airport there. In fairness to Texas, there are several states in this country that I refuse to visit, not in a political boycott way but in a I’d-rather-not-get-harassed-by-white-trash-or-shot-by-a-gun-nut kind of way. Basically, you won’t be seeing any pics of our family in the Deep South…ever!”

——-Posted to Facebook by a Facebook friend.

It constantly astonishes me that otherwise kind and intelligent people who regard themselves as tolerant, accepting and enemies of prejudice and bigotry can be so devoid of self-awareness that they openly display not only their own irrational bias and ignorance as if it is a badge of honor, but also think that avoiding new data and experiences that challenge their facile assumptions makes them look wise and virtuous.

Bulletin to my friend: This makes you look like a hateful fool, and I know you are not.

I’m waiting to see how many “likes” his post gets; I assume a lot. I don’t know who it was who first observed that as we age we tend to become the kind of human being we hate the most, but it struck me as a perceptive observation the first time I heard it, and I have never read a more perfect example of the phenomenon.

 

 

65 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Facebook, Gender and Sex, U.S. Society