BY MICHAEL REISIG –
Wikipedia tells us that ethics, sometimes known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct, often addressing disputes of moral diversity. That’s the long way of saying “doing the right thing when no one is watching.”
A large part of ethics is, and has been sustained, by faith. But we are beginning to see a nation that is questioning faith while trying to establish a non-religious common conscience. Good luck on that… Take a stroll down the back streets of Los Angeles or Chicago and tell me how well that’s doing. This establishment of enlightened morality can really only be done by exercising one code of human behavior in which we all obey and apply the same set of rules. When we do that, we find ourselves back at the tenets of faith.
I believe that science and human compassion continue to raise the bar on society, but it’s ethics that keep us from slipping backwards. Even so, ethics are constantly challenged by power and money – truth and honesty are constantly threatened by the almighty dollar bill and of course, government has become more and more ethics challenged. James Macgregor Burns said, “Divorced from ethics, leadership is reduced to management, and politics to mere technique.” Nonetheless, when we find ourselves in a struggle with injustice, I believe it is the responsibility of all good men and women to protest – to return to the common denominator of morality.
In America we are losing the fight to preserve ethics. Schools no longer practice any ethics-bound philosophy, unless it relates to race. We no longer salute the flag, or pray together, or honor the founding fathers who built this nation on moral conscience. I’m reminded of the quote by the great writer C.S. Lewis – “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man a more clever devil…” Even the great thinker Aristotle recognized this when he said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
I think in our search for more of everything we have lost the essence of what is really important, and we have re-defined the term “good”. We look to become successful cogs in the wheel, not part of the magical essence inside each of us that spins the eternal mechanism.