Ethics or Bust.

Posted on 23. Jan, 2008 by in Non-Profit ethics

Michael Mifsud asked:


How can one forget the business of those scruples and the perplexed looks in peoples faces when asked as to what they had done with them. The same goes with ethics except that it does not sound as close to other hidden possibilities as the other word does. The effect is not the same. We talk about an unscrupulous person but not about an unethical one merely subscribing this to activities. Perhaps that is why it is rendered something that is not worth pursuing with respect as to what it has to teach us.

The political speaker, a disillusioned dissident, in one of the Latin European countries, spoke very freely about the need to introduce ethics into daily lives, much to the santimonious satisfaction of nodding heads in this Jesuit organised public debate.

“It is easy to be a Christian with a fat balance in the bank behind you”, said one alarmingly.” “A choice between ehics and feeding your ailing child..”said another with equally disapproving gestures.

In fact it renders the whole thing a little beyond social capability as ambition instinctively overrides ethics and the bulk of the much abused public expects it, fully intending to do the same if ever capable of getting to those corridors of  lucrative licence.

But is it a dead issue even in the modern European Countries – a chimera where much is swept underneath the carpet and higher levels of emerging power create added personal survival interests ? Apparently not, according to the Jesuit University in the United Sates dedicated to the propagation of Bioethical studies.

Yet again, can it be taken seriously when both politicians and religious leaders sepak bluntly in favour of issues and behaviour that decry the very existance of something as ephemeral as ethics.  In fact lamentably, even in strongly puritanical countries of the higher echelons of the European family, the doubt begins to emerge as to whether ethical values have not only disappeared but have been superseded by a new type of quantum politics and social behaviour now geared to basic survival with or without the electric toothbrush and the bijou residence.

The obvious paradox emerges when it becomes clear that ethical values and conduct have been and are necessary for a modern democracy to function. Also, for extended family reasons where freedom from aggression and clear sense of direction are taken for granted. But is this understood by the politicians and the tired looking religious figures who appear to have lost their definition of sin ?  The public may ride rough shod over ethical standards but it very much expects other not to, which like many other things in modern life, seems to be a one way thoroughfare.

The British Queen made a curious plea in her recent Christmas talk to the vast Nations she represents. It included a philosophical touch to the nature of service to others rather than taking from, acknowledging the former to be a mayor source of happiness. This criteria although once again difficult to absorb by those unacceptably high,  underprivileged members of modern developed societies who have been marginalised by successive insensitive governments, should be,  indisputably, the very base of all monetary and social systems. It is difficult to imagine how that piece of  bake could emerge edibly from that oven, otherwise.

Why this is so is not too difficult to understand even at its most primitive level. In its absence, delinquency could become as it does in some countries, a matter of personal choice, by the public or its leaders. If  smah and grab appears to work for those without the means or without belief in the ones who rule their collective destiny, then the choice is made early in the game.  Public example is therefore, like that demanded of credible Justice, to be seen in its ethical context and all behaviour free of doubt or hidden motivation. For the average and sensible member of the public a correct choice of direction follows, even if only to appear correct, and always if the message from above  is very loud and clear.  It is lamentably increasingly difficult to detect the clarity of the image  through the paper barricades and empty signals of those who should constantly set obvious examples.  And even more so, when the world appears to be falling apart in every direction and self mutilated giants like the financial institutions, like spoilt children,  make demands on all but themselves.

Ethical values precede democratic demands and one cannot essentially, however closely examined, do without the other.  Those who assume otherwise appear to be fated to get what they deserve – receding freedoms and eventual slavery.  Totalitarian government in pursuit of its own highly sectarian survival,  once consolidated, can impose political or religious shackles that could take much bloodshed and often centuries to shake off. Standing in defence of ethical standards would have been a better way of avoiding it.

Ethical values appeal to those with noble sentiment and whose consideratons within business transactions include principles like fair play and the aim to establish goodwill on both sides of the contracting fence. In business, leaving margins for both to play with and benefit from, is a sure formula for repeat sessions during the course of time.  Bad, opportunistic and imbalanced contracts serving the interests of one crafty side,  often provide the basis for a great deal of future aggression and bitterness which add venom and insecurity to the ripples of perceptive awareness which flow across all societies.

The creation of the yuppie, whilst stimulating personal,  positive advancement, literally unleashed an attitude based on false principles which served a very limited purpose. A purpose which victims of the exaggerations and inaccuracies of the selling jargon, if  not for those who perpertrated the abuse, would  forge the shortcomings of future decades to come. The pressure tactics,devoid of all ethics, in the main, fed people into economic bottlenecks, like property bubbles or accumulation of useless products. Those who applied it, would have not survived within markets requiring an ethicial approach to the establishment of the buyers needs. Unfortunately,truth at the bottom line depends on whether the buyer necessarily wants to hear it. If so, could one equate an ethical society with a firm inherited base, or one with a tactical defensive training based on do’s and don’ts. To eat or be eaten as some would say, but can values be taught and applied in this cut and thrust melee ?

Ethical standards some, would say, depends on upbringing which is not essentially the case as modern governments often sacrifice genuine interest for its governed in pursuit of narrow, party politically inspired benefits.  Finding ways and means of extracting the ultimate essence in unwilling contribution from the electorate, appears to feed most of the motivation. Additionally, it often bends the truth short of 360 degrees to ferment non existing needs or establish a nebulous base for a line to follow.  Public consciousness is often late in reacting to such pressures but curiously it misses little and gladly,  albeit rather tardily,  often reacts with apprehensive reponse, for a change. The sorry side, is that it nearly always has much to do with the pocket rather than the heart and often things and values have changed for better or for worse.

Legislation however clumsy,  in its pursuit of the protection that would otherwise be served by general public standards, is often a blunt instrument that perverse elements often find the loopholes to outwit, depending mainly in the already questionable legal profession,  to do its dirty work. Again, it takes li
ttle study to see that abuse of public confidence by national monopolies too politically related, has increased alarmingly.  So much so, that even basic need industries like energy and water suppliers  the profit balance precludes any and every attempt to obtain market applaud – often at the expense of the shareholder – always to the benefit of a few at the top of the fence. Any peripheral study of the market games of this sector would find one glaring omission – one that provokes a public sense of outrage if not helplessness – social concern. In other words, low ethical standards.

Ethics therefore one would assume should belong to the category of those utopian nostalgic sentiments bred out, by realistic hardline practice, but the sorry state of the institutions and economic hardware which should therefore still stay in place, urgently says otherwise. How to bring it back into line is something that deserves not only the close evaluation of those intending to restore the so called balance but the urgent reappearance on the political and religious field of those with values that speak of courage and determination.  Values that speak of eyes and not of lips.

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