WHAT IS ETHICS? a THUMBNAIL SKETCH
Many people are confused about ethics, and it’s no wonder. It’s been knocked around by the learned for more than the 2500+ years since it was conceived as an answer to politics. It’s true. Politics has been subject to abuse and manipulation since its creation by the Greeks back in the Age of Pericles.
Since the beginning of what we now call history, ethics seems to have been a reaction to politics. Its concept is quite simple—ethics calls for honesty above all. However, since its inception it has been studied, debated, interpreted, misinterpreted and generally beat to a pulp by those both learned and otherwise. Ever since Aristotle wrote his treatise on the subject, innumerable philosophers and others have been interpreting it in their own way. The results are confusing, to say the least.
However, reduced to its essence, ethics turns out to be rather simple: Universal Moral Principle. Universal means it is applicable everywhere and every time in the same way. Moral refers it to proper human behavior. Principles are fundamental truths, truth itself being the principal principle.
That which is ethical is true, right and good. As a First Principle, truth stands alone, but right, good and ‘proper’ may require further elaboration in the moral sense: What is ethical must be right and good for humanity generally—not just for a particular segment of it at the expense of others—and at the very least may not be destructive to humanity as a whole.
Must it be fair? Fairness has been debated since the beginning and does not have a simple answer because it’s a relative term that has been a bugaboo since Aristotle. Being ethical is acting in the best interests of humanity—it should endeavor to do no harm—but there may be factions that consider it harmful to them for their own reasons, which may not apply to humanity generally. The best that can be done is to be as fair as possible while adhering to Universal Moral Principle. This requires honesty on both sides of any debate.
Defining honesty as applied truth makes ethics approachable by and accessible to everyone. Simply be honest and chances are that you’ll be ethical as well. The Golden Rule turns out to be as good a yardstick as any: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Kant’s Categorical Imperative is a more prolix approach to the same concept.
This is not rocket science, and those who claim that ethics must be complex enough to warrant interpretation by the learned are not being completely honest. Truth has no agenda, and those with an agenda usually compromise truth.
Unfortunately, being ethical at all times is difficult if not impossible because of the very humanity it is supposed to benefit. People are involved, and each person is an individual with unique needs, wants and goals. Some seek power over others for whatever reason and will lie, cheat and steal (all unethical, by the way) to get it. A simple measure of an unethical act is one which deliberately harms or otherwise demeans another individual.
There’s more, of course, but you’ve just read a primer in ethics. Much more information is available on this site and elsewhere, but remember that honesty is the best policy. You won’t go far wrong remaining honest while you go after more information.
THE ETHICS OF DENIAL: NOT
Ethics is about truth and honesty (which is applied truth). Denial includes the refusal to see the truth (honor the facts); therefore it must be unethical.
The Western World is in denial regarding the dangers of extreme Islamism; that denial will kill us.
Our Western culture promulgates the defense of individual rights (including freedom of speech and religion among others), and seeks to apply these freedoms across the board. No problem here, except…
Islam is not merely a religion, but an ideology—an entire culture of its own—and cannot be treated simply as a religion. Islam embraces Sharia Law—conspicuously in opposition to our Constitutional Law–therefore it must be seen as opposed to the basic rights of Western culture. Should there be any doubt regarding these statements, simply refer to the Holy Quran, the Muslim handbook:
The Muslim interpretation of the Old Testament was written 900-years after Muhammad, who lived 500-years after Christ—1400 years after the fact—and differs significantly from the Bible of the Jews and later Christians. Muslims claim that the prophet the Jews expected was Muhammad (among other differences). However, it would appear that the original narrative (Bible) would govern.
Careful reading of the Quran discloses mixed (sometimes conflicting) messages written at different times in history. Invoking fear and dealing in large part with annihilation of falsehood (meaning infidels—all others), and teaches that Islam will triumph in the world. It teaches as well manners and morals, BUT NOT ALWAYS MORALITY (unless stoning women is considered moral…).
From the Quran: Jesus, the prophet anticipating Muhammad, was neither divine nor God’s son (Allah fathered no one), neither performed miracles nor died on the cross, but died instead much later a natural death and, by leaving Israel without a spiritual leader, the spiritual kingdom defaulted to Islam. Jesus would go to hell; his followers perverted his teachings after his death. The Quran defines the Trinity as God, Jesus and Mary and not the Trinity known to everyone else.
More from the Quran, regarding the Jews: Abraham was the first Muslim. The Jews ‘follow evil crafts’ and sought to kill the prophets; the Quran casts them as swine and apes, unfit to possess the Holy Land.
The Quran forbids Muslims from being friendly with other faiths (there is no religious freedom here) because they are victims of the Jews and Arabs, ‘peacemakers’ who cannot be defeated and will either die defending Islam or live and conquer. Muslims…’shall overtake them (the infidels—all others) by degrees, from whence they know not.’
Islam claims to be the only religion of pure monotheism in the world. It deals in large part with the annihilation of falsehood—that is to say, any other belief. Islam is said to be spread ‘in spite of the sword,’ not by the sword, although Muslims are permitted to ‘kill the disbelievers’ (again, all others) and attack and fight them to stop persecution.
In case you think that our reading of Islam is too severe, hear the words of Egypt’s President addressing clerics and scholars at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University (2014): “It is inconceivable that this ideology—I am referring not to ‘religion’ but to ideology—is hostile to the entire world; that 1.6 billion Muslims would kill the world’s population of 7 billion, so that they could live on their own. …You cannot see things clearly when you are locked in this ideology…You must oppose it with resolve…to revolutionize our religion. …(T)he Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition. We ourselves are bringing it to perdition.” Strong words indeed, from one who knows, telling Muslims: ‘heal thyself.’
The truth is that the culture expounded in the Quran is incompatible with our own and many of our basic human rights including freedom of religion and equal treatment of citizens, and cannot be justified within the American (or any Western) culture. To do so is unethical. Our Constitution guarantees religious, not ideological, freedom; it must necessarily be compatible with those religions in accord with itself. Laws in conflict with the Constitution (such as Sharia Law) cannot stand here. It must therefore be rejected, not endured.
It is FACT that that every American citizen is governed by our Constitution, and that, try as some might to deny it, our nation was founded on primarily Judeo-Christian principles while not purposely excluding those of other faiths. Reading the founding documents and the considerable literature describing what the founders had in mind when they wrote them makes this quite clear.
It is FACT that Islamists not only practice their religion as put forth in the Quran and promulgated by the prophet Muhammad, but live by the way of life specified by the Quran and Muhammad’s later writings. How can America be expected to honor freedom of a religion that is incompatible and conflicts directly with the principles upon which our Republic was founded? We can’t. It’s unethical. And it’s suicide.
The Ethics of Racism
Racism is alive and well in our nation, but it’s changed hands. Now it is blacks who are racist.
From the Washington Times of Dec. 7, 2014: “Addressing protests over minorities killed by police officers, President Obama said racism is ‘deeply rooted’ in the U.S. and that activists should keep pressing steadily in their demands for reform. Could President Obama be racist?
Our first black president would have been expected to use his bully pulpit to improve the racial issue, especially after he was elected largely on racial grounds (90% of black voters voted for him, as did a significant percentage of whites). Apparently that was not to be.
From Bloomberg: Fifty-three (53) percent of Americans say that white/black relations have deteriorated since President Obama began his rule. Mr. Obama continues to foment racial discord rather than try to ameliorate the problem by asking racists to keep pressing their demands.
The President recently has taken the side of black criminals in at least three instances, the latest being the Eric Gardner case in New York. The more famous (and damaging) Ferguson, Mo. incident saw the white officer involved cleared of all charges by a grand jury after more than two months of deliberation; nevertheless, rioting and looting were prevalent and, for all intents and purposes, accepted. Mr. Obama held meetings with young civil rights activists at the White House who continue to protest the shooting death of the ‘unarmed black teenager’ in spite of clear evidence showing him committing at least two crimes, one of which involved a scuffle with the officer in the police car during which two shots were fired.
More from the Washington Times: “Addressing protests over minorities killed by police officers, President Obama said racism is ‘deeply rooted in our society, it’s deeply rooted in our history’ in an interview with BET, a portion of which was released December 7. ‘When you’re dealing with something as deeply rooted as racism or bias … you’ve got to have vigilance but you have to recognize that it’s going to take some time, and you just have to be steady so you don’t give up when we don’t get all the way there,’ whatever that means.
But wait…there’s more…
Surely you’ve heard about Melvin Santiago, a white Jersey City (NJ) detective shot to death in July by Lawrence Campbell (black)? No? How about Perry Renn, a white Indianapolis cop shot to death by a black assailant, Major Davis? Or Deputy Sheriff Allen Bares killed by Quintlan Richard and Baylon Taylor? Or maybe Charles Dinwiddie, a Killeen (TX) cop murdered by Marvin Guy? All of these white policemen killed by blacks, and nothing from the President. Or Eric Holder (Esq), his main guy at DOJ. Imagine that…
If racism is ‘deeply rooted’ it is the black population that currently tends the garden. But what’s worse is the general acceptance of looting and burning by ‘protesters’ (actually thieves and criminals) and its implicit approval by the President and his minions.
And Mr. Obama dignifies the black racist Al Sharpton with meetings at the White House. Sharpton is a roach, committing numerous fraudulent activities including the Tawana Brawley invention, not to mention owing the government millions in back taxes.
Whereas whites were the accused (and real) racists when Reverend King was active, now it is blacks who’ve taken up the cudgel (literally). Sharpton, the Jesse Jacksons and Louis Farrakhans continue to provoke the problem even as conditions would improve. They do it at every opportunity.
Conditions will not improve until the black community accepts some of the responsibility for their own actions and social conditions. Dr. King knew this and long ago admonished blacks to clean up their act. Apparently they would rather heed the roach—it’s more personally and immediately rewarding, and condoned by the President.
Why should the general population have to tolerate the lawbreaking and disruption caused by black racists? POLITICAL CORRECTNESS—that’s why. We don’t dare uphold the law because we are made to feel guilty by those who continue to harass us with the approval of no less than the President of the United States.
The first step in the process of reform is to identify and accept the problem. Only then is remedial action possible, and it must be accomplished fearlessly. Can this be done? Certainly, but it has to begin. And the current administration isn’t about to help.
ETHICS and RELIGION – an Observation
What follows uses as an example the Catholic Church, for no other reason than its author, once a practicing Catholic, is most familiar with it. The same probably could be said of other wealthy denominations—the Anglican Church, for instance…
We hear of churches losing membership and the difficulty of attracting men to the priesthood. We also hear about the poverty, hunger and squalor lived by millions in the Third World and yes, other places as well.
On the other hand, we know about the glory of “Rome” and the vast riches on display at the Vatican, and can only guess at the sumptuous lives of the papacy and its minions who have few to answer to except themselves. The resources of the hierarchy are virtually limitless, and still growing.
But the subject of this short essay is not the diminishing of one of the richest institutions on earth. The subject here is ETHICS. And a concerted adherence to ethical principles would go a long way toward solving some of the “problems” of the church.
Imagine if the church divested itself of the bulk of its fungible riches, bringing the offices of the CEO down to size and putting the proceeds into investments to be drawn on as needed to fight world famine, plague and the like, and to provide a measurable standard of living to the truly destitute of the world. Was it Elizabeth Ann Seton who said “Live simply, so that others may simply live?” By bringing these people to a point where at least basic needs could be met would not only attract them to the church, but the Church’s beneficence would send a message to others as well. Can anyone imagine what clout this would provide?
Robbing Peter to pay Paul—now there’s a pun for you…
Buying members? Perhaps, but these would be grateful and devoted members who would further increase in numbers and bolster the church’s sagging membership. It also would build the church’s worldwide reputation, and doubtless attract even more to the priesthood.
Speaking of the priesthood, there’s some work to be done there as well. Instead of protecting the bad ones and/or sending them off to do their damage elsewhere…well, you know. A better screening process, perhaps?
Can you imagine the power to be gained by a Pope (and his Bishops) who, instead of a symbol of royalty, became something of an uber-monk, a man of humble lifestyle, a true man of the people who took his priestly vows of poverty seriously? Look at the success of The Dalai Lama, a man of far-reaching influence. Doesn’t the antithesis of poverty on display in Rome say something about double (or triple, or quadruple) standards? The poor see this flagrant display of power and money; the reputation of the church is not enhanced by it.
This by no means suggests a banishment of the hierarchy to the fields. It is simply a gross reduction in apparent counterproductive opulence. The coffers would continue to swell, but the money would be put to a better use—to spread the faith. This is, after all, what Christ wanted, isn’t it? Peter was a poor and humble man. His successors have come a long way from that.
But what has ethics to do with this? Simply everything. Ethics is about what’s true, right, and good. Is religion (or the church, if you wish) representing what’s true, right, and good? Your opinions may differ from ours, but you would be advised to examine the ethics involved. We have. One thing is certain—spreading the wealth would go a long way toward solving the church’s problems. Why? Could it be because it’s the right thing to do and benefits the entirety of humanity?
That’s what ethics is all about.
THE ETHICS of WATER DEPLETION
How many times have we heard that we’re in danger of wearing out the Earth? Or that we’re polluting the environment to the point that we won’t be able to live here in 20 (30, 50, 70, 100) years? The alarmists would have us believe that if we don’t do something (or stop doing something else) soon, we’re toast. Glacial ice will melt, sea level will rise, drowning out shoreline properties and countless lives. But we can stop it by being better stewards. They’ll tell us how.
For the past several years it’s been the ‘global warming’ threat that’s happening because we’re burning fossil fuels. AlGore has made a fortune (and an undeserved Nobel Prize) by writing a book about the coming disastrous climate change called “An Inconvenient Truth” that is in fact a collection of half-truths and lies, even claiming that the debate is settled—he’s done it all (after inventing the internet). Of course, there has been NO SIGN of global warming for the past 18-years; last winter was brutal, and it looks to repeat this year…
You can read the facts about the supposed threat of global warming at www.extremeethics.org/?p=148; www.extremeethics.org/?p=594; www.extremeethics.org/?p=708 and other pertinent blogs on our website.
Now we hear that we’re facing the threat of running out of water. It isn’t enough that Earth is supposedly heating up at an unprecedented rate because we’re pumping great volumes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Now we’ll be unable to put out the fires we’re going to cause. We’re running out of water! Maybe we’d be better off if we weren’t irrigating massive fields of corn to produce ethanol, a political fuel additive, but that’s another story.
Fact: Earth has a fixed amount of water—the same amount we’ve had for billenia. More than 332 MILLION cubic miles of it. Most of it (about 320Million cubic miles) is in the oceans, while essentially fresh water makes up the rest. Water, in fact, is part of every living thing. It changes place and phase according to nature’s needs, and it does so virtually instantly. You can read all about it at www.extremeethics.org/?p=2130 . We can’t run out.
It’s time to stop this drive for ‘sustainability’ (a catchword of the cognoscenti) because it’s another fact that we cannot stop warming (Earth is in an interglacial phase during which the planet will warm naturally). Ice will melt and sea levels will rise, but not to the extent threatened by the ‘experts.’ The self-styled doyens tell us that we’ll be in big trouble by 2030, backing it up with statements like “there’s some chance that something will happen” in 20 (30, 50, 70, 100) years. (The fact that shoreline population centers will someday experience flooding is our own fault for building them there in the first place…)
Face it! Earth has been doing its thing for 4Billion years—it’s been growing into the place we call home on its own for Billenia. It’s been taking care of itself without our help since well before Year One. It has adapted to comet strikes, droughts, sunspot damage, floods, earthquakes, seafloor spreading, disastrous volcanic activity and countless other violent natural occurrences, all the while preparing itself for our arrival by developing plant and animal life even as it fended off natural ‘disasters,’ www.extremeethics.org/?p=667 and man isn’t about to thwart its continued evolution. We’re not that important!
In fact, man’s innovation will enable him to adapt to coming changes just as he has in the past. Earth is not static, nor are we. Nor are we stupid. We don’t need politicians and their minions telling us to conserve resources, because that’s what we’re doing. Our environment is light-years better than it was just a century ago because we know enough to treat nature with respect. Apocalyptic experts do not factor this in when making their dire predictions—they assume that development will remain static—just as it is today. With an attitude like that we never would have traveled to the moon or dropped a probe precisely on a streaking comet deep in the universe.
The fact is that we will continue to make better use of the resources at our disposal. Nature recycles just as we’ve learned to do, and we are able to find new ways to do things better, even new materials, as we improve our lot. Copper running out? Use manufactured glass fibers to communicate… Need more fresh water? Desalinize sea water using solar energy (coming soon at a seaside near you…).
Ethics is based in truth and executed via honesty. Use your own head and see that things aren’t nearly as bad as the Apocalyps claim. Remember that the disasters predicted in the past failed to happen. Have faith in humanity, and do your best not to foul your nest. (Why would you do that, anyway? You wouldn’t.).
Don’t listen to those control freaks who would throw $Trillions at a problem that doesn’t exist (even if it did, we’d be powerless to stop it). Enjoy your time here on Earth, and try to leave it better than you found it (see the Boy Scout Handbook).