Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

Living In An Always On Video World

May 12, 2017

You lose your emotional balance. Start yelling and screaming at someone. You do it long enough for at least one person, perhaps more, to point their smart phone and click video / record. One Facebook post later, and 2 million people see what a jerk you are.

You step outside, and someone could be taking your picture. If you have caused anger in your significant other, even in your house you could be the subject of a new “film at 11” on the Web.

You would think that all this surveillance would make us behave better.

I wonder if Biblical writers such as John, who often wrote about light and dark and things we do in each, or James, or Paul even in their nightmares could envision the public exposure extending their thoughts about doing good.

The problem is that we see one video over and over and our brain starts to think this is a common occurrence. It isn’t. I just completed two trips–two continents, 10 different flight segments, five airports. Not one thing worth videoing. Darn, I’m not going to be famous (he said facetiously).

Someone asked me last night, wouldn’t it have been better for the person shooting the video to step up and try to be part of the solution? Sometimes we can’t. But I bet most of the time we can.

What if someone videoed us doing an act of kindness? Of being a calming influence when tempers start to kindle? Of preventing a friend or neighbor from becoming the next Internet Star?

Cultivate The Need for Prayer and Reflection

April 13, 2017

The Archbishop once told me that people often think he needs time to pray and reflect because he is a religious leader. He said those who must live in the marketplace—business-people, professionals, and workers—need it even more. From The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa)

There are people we hold in high regard because of their position or their calling. We attribute to them qualities that are often beyond human possibility.

The Governor of the state of Alabama (fervent Religious Right Christian, I guess) just resigned after a moral failure became public. America’s leading morality policeman (I am told, I know nothing about him and have never seen his TV show) if facing the end of a career and lucrative speaking and book fees after moral failures became public.

We think of preachers and priests as spiritual beings, praying and meditating all day. But then think of clergy, some famous, some not so, who have fallen quite publicly when their human failings were revealed.

Business people and professionals face ethical choices daily. Should the engineer point out dangerous design flaws? Should the business owner dump chemicals out back by the creek rather than dispose of properly? Should the executive take advantage of people under his power–perhaps sexually or by threatening their livelihood?

The temptations are many and insidious.

Only through constant prayer and reflection can we maintain our focus and moral equilibrium.

Are You Concerned About Ethics Today

February 8, 2017

I’m at a conference this week. These days I am called an “influencer” or writer or analyst–not journalist. But I hang out with the business journalists covering manufacturing technology.

Last night at dinner some got to talking about the “fake news” that has has captured the country’s attention. Now that we write for the Web and for Facebook and Twitter, no one checks us on facts and the more extravagant we use words the more views we get. And it’s all about views.

It blows my mind. How can people be so unconcerned about truth or facts? How can they be so cynical about people so as to think that they are gullible consumers of outlandish words?

Or is it our fault for being non-critical readers?

Be honest with yourself now. How often have you been suckered into passing along something you saw on Facebook only to be told it’s a lie?

Ethics leads to trust. Trust reflects character. In the end all you leave behind is the legacy of your character.

We can each do our part in elevating the ethics discussion around us. Be aware. Be careful. Maintain focus on the more important things.

A Leader To Bring Us Together

January 19, 2017

Those people! Those (other) people.

They ignore all the rules. They bring their guitars and drums into church. Wear whatever clothes they wish. They shout and dance. They don’t believe all of our strict interpretations of Scripture. They don’t even look like us. They don’t always speak the same language.

Those people!

They are so strict and humorless. They think they follow all the rules and sit there pointing out where everyone else falls short of following some rule. They think everyone should believe everything just like them, dress like them, talk like them. If not, then they don’t belong.

Sorry, I’m not talking about the politics of Washington, D.C. Or France. Or Britain. Or Germany. Or whatever. The state of politics globally is pretty divisive right now.

But what about churches?

I’m not Catholic, but I love to see the direction that Pope Francis is trying to lead.

On the other hand, there is the politics of all the local places of Christian worship. So much divisiveness.

Where is the injunction of Jesus–“you will know my followers by their love”?

In those early years of the church, leaders struggled with bringing together two completely different groups of people into one faith. The “racial” divide at the time was between Jews and everyone else in the world who was not a Jew.

Keeping that in mind, go back and read Romans straight through. Read it from the point of view of what Paul is saying about that divide.

“Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised (Jews) on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised (everyone else) through that same faith.”

Paul’s plea throughout the letter is that the two sides come together. I often fall short of being that kind of reconciler. We need more of us to speak up to bring people together instead of bowing down to those who seek to divide.

No One Wants To Be A Racist

November 1, 2016

The phrase “locker room talk” suddenly hit the public news media recently. It was used to explain or justify talking crudely about women or people of other races.

Ever wonder what locker room talk is?

Me, too. The only sport I played was tennis. We didn’t have a locker room. 

Pro athletes spoke up and said their locker room conversations were nothing like that.

In my life I’ve been around “man talk”, of course. Almost never have I been part of “girl talk”, of course. So my experience is somewhat limited. Outside of three long months I spent in a fraternity in college, I’ve never been around conversations describing women and sexual exploits and the like. Those were probably post-adolescent boy fantasies. 

Racial comments are frequent in many places. Mostly white-guy “jokes” or comments about another race being lazy, worthless, criminal. Sometimes not another race but another culture of the same race. “Hillbilly” used to be a term of derision. Now maybe it’s redneck?

Shane Claiborne in the book I cited yesterday, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Meant What He Said?, commented, “No one wants to be a racist, except for maybe some really mean people.”

I think he’s right. I’ve heard people make the meanest comments about people of another race. Then later when the term racist was brought up, they would remark, “I hope you aren’t calling me a racist.”

We don’t hear what we ourselves say.

Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, said it centuries ago, “O wad a giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us.” 

How often do we reflect on what we say and do? And feel embarrassed? I have those flashbacks every once in a while.

Jesus did show us the way. And typically for him, he set the bar so high that we can never feel complacent. His culture was very racially defined. The Jews (like many other tribes) tried mightily to keep themselves separate from people of other races. 

Yet, Jesus healed the child of the woman “who was Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin.” He led a Samaritan woman to a deeper spiritual understanding of God. These were doubly groundbreaking. Not only were they not his race, they were women.

Like in everything, Jesus shows us the way. If only we can get our hearts right so that we can follow. No says I want to grow up and be a racist (well, with a few psychopathic exceptions). But we do. It’s hard loving people who are different. But as followers of Jesus, we need to follow him there, too.

We May Listen But Not Understand

October 18, 2016

To you have been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that ‘they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’  –Jesus

I have tried blocking political stuff from my social media feeds so that I can see what people are doing in peace. But it seems to be inescapable.

That part that does slip through has no (as in none) information that is truthful or enlightening. There is no probing into issues or how candidates would actually carry the country forward or represent it to the world. The untruths, half-truths twisted one way or another, character assassinations drive me to drink (well, not really, but I wish).

I’ve been studying the words of Jesus lately. Sort of “red-letter Christian” if you will. Early in Mark, he is recorded in the explanation above. “So that they may indeed listen, but not understand.”

Do you feel like that describes discourse in America today?

We aren’t alone in that in the world, unfortunately. Because I cover manufacturing technology globally, I must become familiar with the situation globally. Many other countries suffer from the same dilemma.

Hmmm. Sounds as if this is a human condition–not simply an American one.

And that was where Jesus operated. He probed deeper than politics. Remember the Roman coin question? He probed into what we call the heart. In that day, instead of heart, they talked about the gut. As in, when something bad happens, we say we “got hit in the gut” (abdomen below the rib cage). That is really where we feel emotions. I think that word brings the meaning home more than the word heart, which has become so sanitized and romanticized over the centuries.

Jesus was concerned with us as individual people. He’s concerned with the way we conduct political discourse. He’s concerned with the way we conduct any discourse.

Are we indeed looking but not perceiving? Listening but not understanding? Or as he said later, “He who has ears, let him hear.”

Unity In The Spirit

August 3, 2016

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience. — Pierre Teilhard

Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a French Jesuit priest, paleontologist, theologian, and philosopher. Those Jesuits, they’re always over achievers. He is also one of my favorite writers.

I love it when people observe something and turn it on its head.

This seems to fit what Paul was praying for in Ephesians that I pondered yesterday. He prayed that we would be filled with God’s spirit.

But Paul continued just after his prayer to say, “I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” And “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all in all.”

Teilhard loved that phrase “all in all.”

Paul warns us a little later to remain focused on that which matters. To be filled with the Spirit speaking the truth in love. We are spiritual beings, and Paul keeps trying to show us how to live like spiritual beings.

And we resist.

We don’t want to grow up. We don’t want to break down those prejudices, those walls, within which we’ve grown quite comfortable.

I’ll never forget reading John Calhoun, an early 19th Southern American (US) writer who proved conclusively from the Bible that black people were actually a sub-human race of beings who were deserving only of slavery. In fact, slavery was a step up for them.

Vestiges of that thought line continue among some Christians even unto today. I’ve sat with people who would fervently identify themselves as Christian, yet they disparaged black people, Middle Eastern people, and all manner of other non-white, non-American peoples. And they could blithely continue speaking of Christian values.

Let’s go back to the source. Listen to Paul’s prayer for us. Be filled with the Spirit and then speak in love.

Learn to Speak Up

July 13, 2016

I am such a coward.

I have a certain talent for writing–at least that what people tell me. I appreciate the comments, especially from the ones who pay me to write.

Arguing is emotional. Sometimes emotions can run away from your control. Way over. It’s the way over that’s bad. Been there in my life. Once, a long time ago, I was quite argumentative. But it was always an emotional response. I don’t handle confrontation well. Always regretted it in the end.

I care about two things in the political realm (carries over into personal)–peace and justice. There was once a stream in the Democrat Party that was focused on peace and justice. Now, to me at least, it seems like they all are just out to see what they can get from the government. Different things for different people (whoever they think will vote for them, of course).

But, peace and justice come from within. If there are enough of us, then we’ll begin to see Shalom–that deep peace that we read about in the Bible.

Some of that starts from speaking up. In a forceful, but peaceful, way.

There have been many conversations I’ve witnessed over the past few months where I’ve heard some of the worst racial comments. And violent comments. Comments such as, “Maybe we would be better off to kill all the (name your hated group–gay people, people with different colored skin, people from different cultures).”

So far as I know, all the people would self-identify as Christian. Some were in church–that is a hint.

And, did I speak up as the lone dissenter and ask, “What would Jesus think of the state of your heart this moment?”

Jesus could stare down an angry group with rocks in their hands. And me? I whiffed.

Unfortunately, I’m sure there will be another time at bat.

It’s All About Trust

July 11, 2016

Once upon a time I was entrusted with thousands of dollars from two soccer referee associations. There were few checks and balances. That always bothered me. This is not a confession. I was careful with the money. But one of my colleagues many years ago made off with tens of thousands of dollars before it came to light.

There’s a lot of cash floating around in our economy. Much of it flows to organizations that operate with volunteer leadership. The New York Times recently ran an article about people who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from their youth sports clubs. It can happen in churches, service clubs, school support organizations.

These are trusted people. But they got into personal financial trouble. Often due to gambling. Sometime personal circumstances–divorce, lost job, medical bills.

Leadership begins with trust. But trust must be earned again every day.

Every story of leadership and leadership theory I read has trust as the foundation–whether explicitly stated or not.

It goes deeper. I’ve talked with many people in the aftermath of affairs. Many of those don’t realize the damage done to their trustworthiness. See, it’s not just money, but when you are trusted in a relationship, too.

How would you like to have a job like a policeman where you have trouble trusting anyone? With all the guns carried openly, how are they to know if they can trust that the gun won’t be turned on them? Or us, when we see the guns around?

You’d like to trust everyone. Many of us grew up in small towns where trust was the cement that held the society together.

I’d hate to live life as a cynic, distrusting everyone. On the other hand, if I’m in an organization, I would want to see trust with oversight. Just to be responsible.

How Long Does It Take To Sin

June 8, 2016

It’s only 20 minutes of his life. It shouldn’t take away from 20 years. (Sports Dad)

There are no moral giants in the story. Must be a story about real life. Privileged athlete takes advantage of girl. Has sex. Walks away.

His point of view–so what? It’s just sex.

Her point of view–I’ve been physically and emotionally violated.

The philosopher Ken Wilber once wrote, “Civilization is a race to overcome testosterone.” There is much to think about there.

Look at King David. A warrior-king. Doesn’t get any more “manly” than that. He saw a woman. An attractive woman. The hormones spoke, David listened. How long did it take out of his life to commit a sin that kept on giving? 20 minutes?

20 minutes with a woman led to murder of her husband and many of his own soldiers.

Some people have somehow gotten the idea that women are objects and think it is Biblical. Don’t know how they got that. The Old Testament records a time of warriors. The stories prize strong men who could fight against enemies. Yet, look at the stories of strong women, full of faith, who also led.

Paul, whom many cite as the philosopher of subjugating women, is often misread. As Andy Stanley put it in the recorded Your Move talk from last weekend said, “They didn’t read the verse before it” regarding the verse about wives being submissive to their husbands.

Quick test–who knows the verse before?

This is a story about men who think that women are only objects, not real people. Who think they only exist for their pleasure. It’s a story fed by pictures, TV, movies.

That’s not the story of people living under grace. Who value every human being as a person God created and loves. Every woman who is someone’s daughter.

That’s not 20 minutes of “slipping up” that would have been ignored if not brought to light. It’s 20 minutes that proves character.