Ethical Guidebook

A discussion of the difference between our personal values and our public ethics, how mature citizens can support both, and why our love for public ethics must trump our love for personal and group values when they conflict in the public space. Ethics offers a guidebook for evaluating public issues and finding multilateral solutions to endless cycles of values centric conflicts and unilateral violence.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Sense of Place

My dad passed away recently, my mom a few years earlier. They gave me a sense of place in both a world of values - home, farm, family, religion, culture, country - and a world of ethics - accomodation and tolerance of others who are different, the joy and power of music and harmony, love of education and acceptance of facts, appreciation for decent government and institutions of fairness. One of my mom's favorite sayings was, "I just can't stand intolerance!". Hopefully some of that rubbed off.

The Ethics of Consumption

VALUES based thinking sees the world in terms of whether things have values to humans or not. If it cannot be consumed by someone, and preferrably your own team, it is a problem. That's why values based world views without ethical maturity are so challenged by any attempt to put any restrictions on opportunities to consume. Consumption is equated with 'growth' and the assumption is that the only alternative is stagnation.

ETHICAL based thinking sees the world in terms of sustainable coexistance. Humans are part of that world and understand sustaining a healthy world is valuable whether or not every part of it is consumable by humans. To the extent people support ethics as well as personal values, they will mitigate their consumption and accept restrictions on consumption to accomodate sustainability. Sustainability is equated with 'healthy change' that continues to provide opportunities and the assumption is that destructive or unnecessary consumption are not growth, but rather loss.

Because the global environment is the largest 'playing field' on which all humans participate, environmental ethics are the most important type of civic maturity necessary for humans with different values and different levels of access to both shortages and plenty, to mitigate their own values and coexist within collaboratively arbitrated restrictions on consumption necessary for the overall sustainability of the playing field and human fairness to preserve future opportunities for those on the short end of the stick as well as those currently in the gravy bowl.