Category Archives: Religious Ethics

Meet Harriet Beecher Stowe

Mary McCauley asked:

My upbringing was in a strict Protestant family. With a father like Lyman Beecher, who was considered one of the leading religious orators of the times, I had no recourse but to be bestowed the heritage of religious ethics. Our entire family was imbued with holy rights and unholy wrongs. Father was most adamant about his views. He was strongly pro Calvinism, and believed firmly in equality of all men.

Another ethic I embraced at an early age was work. No one ever put in longer hours helping around the house, studying,

writing and teaching than I. My sister Catherine, relied on me to assist her at the school for girls which she founded.

When I married Professor Calvin Stowe, the widower of one of my dearest friends, I had already seen several of my short stories published in magazines. For me, writing was a compulsion. It was not unusual for a friend or relative to receive 10 or 20 page letters from me. I poured out my feelings with intensity.

My brother, Henry Ward, who as my father also became a renowned minister, was bombarded with my epistles of soul rendering prose. Within me screamed the Muse who

could not be stilled. I wrote until my hand ached, my mind wearied, and my thoughts finally stilled by pure exhaustion.

I was deeply disturbed by the slavery issue. My father convinced me at an early age that all men are created equal. This conviction led to his ultimate ouster from the Church he loved so dearly. The prevailing attitude in many of the Protestant churches was that there were classes of society and each should act accordingly.

This attitude was unthinkable to me. In my later years I realized that people are classed by their own attitudes, perhaps brought on by the prevailing mode of society, but no one should ever be enslaved by another. Race, creed, economics, or academic quality should not be used to denigrate any of God’s creation. I firmly believed that education was the primary means of ending this injustice.

My joy in life was always my family. My children were my first priority, and the loss of two sons devastated me. Each time I buried myself in my work and wrote with unceasing vigor. In my writing I could lose myself and ease the pain.

Many of the stories I wrote had been serialized in magazines before they were published in books. I had become known as a writer of essays and articles prior to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which by the way I wrote and sent chapters weekly to the National Era magazine. I had

planned to complete the story in six months, but it grew and grew and was finished in a year. I never expected it to make such an impact. That it was ultimately printed in forty languages overwhelms me. I frequently stated that I could not control the story, it wrote itself. In my heart I believed it was written by God, using me as an instrument.

As a published author, I was afforded the opportunity to travel to England and the Continent. I made several sojourns there and delighted in the hospitality. I had never been in robust health, and the sea voyage always rallied me. Perhaps it was the sea air, or perhaps it was the time away from the continual demands of my life.

My son Charles claimed that President Lincoln looked down at me with his coal nugget eyes and said, “so this is the lady who started the great war!”. I don’t recall the incident,but Charles was with me the day I met Mr. Lincoln. If it was said, it is a terrible

accusation to put on anyone. True, my book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, did stir up the hornet’s nest, but the seeds of unrest were planted and a divided nation had been the

harvest before it had been written.

I never felt that I had a hand in bring about the Civil War. The only contribution I might have made was in my letters to some of the noted women of England, enlisting their help to being about Britain’s support of the government of President Lincoln. I was not anti

the South. I thought the people were kind and genteel and that the practice of slavery occurred only because it had been part of their heritage.

To be politically minded was never my first cause. My religious values were paramount in all of my novels. It was my belief that God is all love, and thus, all are loved by God. That we should treat each other with humanity, justice, and love was my foremost philosophy.

On the occasion of my seventy first birthday in 1882, at a party in my honor, I reticently gave a speech where I stated my feelings about life with the comment, “Let us never doubt. Everything that ought to happen is going to happen”. And so it did in my life, so it does in yours.

If I were to live in these times, I would entreat you to be mindful of the good in your

neighbor so that your neighbor will find the good in you.

Ethics is not a Place

Guy Kingston asked:

It seems that Ethics is a growth industry. There are even advertisements in the newspapers for “professional ethicists”.

Does this mean that we are getting more ethical? Are we at the place of which Plato dreamed, where “kings are philosophers and philosophers are kings”.

Alas, the opposite seems to be true. The fact that so-called “experts” have to be employed to say what is ethical is just one sign that many people are increasingly incapable of telling right from wrong for themselves.

Indeed, the “professional ethicists” are not really concerned with moral right and wrong. Rather they are a junior branch of the legal profession. Many sectors, especially those related to medicine and human services, now have “codes of ethics” or “codes of conduct”. A breach of these codes may have legal consequences. The purpose of the “professional ethicist” is to give a degree of protection from those legal consequences. Surely this is the very opposite of ethics.

The last century has seen an enormous expansion in the scope of the law in most jurisdictions. Activities which were previously left up to individual conscience are now regulated by the state.

This is particularly true of business.

Yet it has not made business more honest. To rely on force rather than conscience to get people to do what is right is to undermine conscience. When people are forced, rather than persuaded, they will do what they are forced to do and no more. They will feel no sense of obligation.

More and more, the business world is filled with people who are governed by the principle of “what can we get away with”, rather than by what is right.

It was not always so. We must not be so naive as to imagine that there was ever a Golden Age when everyone was always honest – but things certainly used to be better than they are today.

Previous generations were less likely to see a conflict between doing what was morally right and doing what was in their own best interests.

Partly this was due to the greater emphasis that was placed on Reputation in those days. Business communities tended to be smaller, either because they were geographically isolated or because there might be a small number of specialists in very close correspondence. If a man did anything dishonest, it would soon be known by everyone and his chances of remaining in business would be negligible. Today, the global market is so big that it is unlikely that everyone will hear if someone has a bad reputation.

Mainly, however, it was because business communities usually had shared religious values.

Max Weber described the “Protestant Work Ethic”. The same principle which encouraged people to work hard to succeed in business – a desire to please God – also imposed strict honesty on those business dealings. Protestant devotional works sometimes recommend standards that seem laughable today – like not taking advantage of information that was unknown to the other party in a deal and not charging market price where the profit is excessive. Yet the people who read those works often became very wealthy, not least because they had a reputation for fair dealing.

In the same way, Jewish bankers were able to do business, even if the face of virulent Anti-Semitism, because they built a reputation for scrupulous honesty. This only irritated the Anti-Semites even more.

Even today, an entrepreneur is better off if he deals with someone who is concerned about his reputation for honesty – and who possibly believes that there is an Accounting beyond the balance sheets of this life – than relying on any number of laws and regulations and artificial codes for protection.

How to Have an Ethical Christmas

everyclick.com asked:

If Christmas really is the season of peace and goodwill why not start planning now to make it a truly ethical occasion for yourself and your loved ones?

Charitable gestures in this season of giving are so easy to make at a cost which would even have Scrooge smiling with approval.

Just what does the way you wish someone a happy Christmas say about you? Old traditions die hard and it seems that writing a few scrawled clichés on a Hallmark greetings card is still the favoured method of most Brits.

The Royal Mail delivers as many as 150 million cards per day in the pre-Christmas run up but it is a sobering thought that these cards can take up to 30 years to decompose.

So why not send an ecard (an email wishing someone well) instead? You can actually make them more personal than a shop-bought card by pasting in a scene from a famous Christmas film (what about Jimmy Stewart’s It’s A Wonderful Life?) and using PhotoShop to superimpose a speech bubble with your greeting.

Charity Christmas cards are a fine alternative if this idea doesn’t appeal.

Cards that you receive can be recycled by organisations such as the Woodland Trust.

A compost bin can be a good Yuletide investment which will help you recycle much of the waste that the festivities generate.

If you’re dreaming of a green Christmas it is best to buy presents which don’t harm the environment. Buying the adoption rights to an animal can prove to be a great gift and what better time of the year can it be for adopting a reindeer?

For just £32 a year you can adopt a Cairngorm Mountain reindeer and receive photos, souvenirs and newsletters. The money will be well-spent on food and welfare (in the form of medicine and vets’ fees) for these magnificent creatures.

Polar bears can be adopted even more cheaply. For as little as £3 per month the World Wildlife Fund will let you adopt one of these Arctic animals.

It doesn’t take much imagination to decorate your house without ruining the planet. Plastic trees are not environmentally-friendly so you could always grow your own holly tree instead of supporting the trade in holly branches. Put seeds, a compost pellet and a terracotta pot on your Christmas list and watch your green credentials grow!

If it’s too late to do this in time for the big day, you can always contact Oxfam and make a donation so that a tree can be planted in a developing country.

No decent Christmas is complete without the chance to gorge yourself on food before slumping in front of the Queen’s speech with a paper crown on your head. Buying your choice of dinner locally, perhaps at farmers’ markets, is a sure-fire way of ticking the right green boxes.

With time off work, Christmas is a time to reflect on those less fortunate than themselves. You can always bring some seasonal cheer by buying an Everyclick eVoucher to give to someone to donate to their favourite charity before the year is out.

Jumping High for the Internal Client

Gloria Rubaine asked:

The internal client, we all have them.   They’re our co-workers, colleagues, bosses, staff, assistants and employees.   They may be brilliant experts in their own right or not, but if they are not working for each other, the results for company, clients and staff are simply not encouraging and could be downright disastrous.

One of the greatest causes of frustration and low morale is the apparent or perceived lack of co-operation and harmony between workers, management, divisions.  What is the cause of this?

a)      Unclear job descriptions /mandate which are not complimentary to others. This leads to a wrong perception of others’ duties.

b)      Staff who write their own job description often prioritizing irrelevant tasks and going off on a tangent.   

c)      Management favouritism and nepotism.

d)      Jealousy

e)      Lack of tact and communication skills.

f)        Poor work ethics.

g)      Arrogance and narcissism.

h)      Formation of cliques and the “in” crowd.

i)        Management example and company culture.

 Let us have a look at some of the personalities of the internal client and the dynamics of why they do or do not receive customer service and support from their colleagues.

The Delegator

This individual has definite views as to what they are supposed to do.  Many tasks are considered beneath them.  For the most part, one can find this person in the management structure, a junior or middle manager but is not necessarily restricted to this level.  While delegation is an important attribute for any manager, the Delegator is a master at this and takes this to an alarming level, delegating most of the incoming workload, without any regard for the time available, skill set and authorization level of the person being delegated to.   Needless to say, if the assignment is not done well, the delegator has someone to blame it on, and if it’s a resounding success,  accepts the praise without passing it on to the real author of the assignment.   Often this person is part of the “inner circle” and has greater access to the executive level, presenting themselves as dedicated achievers.    Staff and coworkers, seeing the futility of working for or with the delegator, feel used, overworked, and unappreciated.   Why would they jump “how high” for this person?  

Eventually, the delegator is taken to task by their manager or executive, who will start to wonder what work they are doing themselves and will even re-examine the delegator’s qualifications.   Management may well end up cutting this job, at least for a while. 

The Assistant

Their job is usually defined by their direct manager.  Usually highly skilled in Microsoft office programs and other computer applications, they often put a professional face on many of the company documents both external and internal.   Normally, they are asked to participate in organizing company functions and meetings, and generally do a great job with these tasks.   Power and influence does come  to the assistant, as several administrative tasks are performed, leading to enforcing regulations, approving expense reports,  stationery purchases, etc.    By the very nature of their job, they have a close, working relationship with an authoritative figure, perhaps  a CEO or senior manager tor,  and are intensely responsive and efficient for this person, but rarely for anyone else.  

Valued as they may be,  this person sometimes develops poor communication skills, and a lack of tact when dealing with anyone outside “the in crowd”  If the assistant doesn’t like someone, then that unfortunate person will have delays and a lack of co-operation on anything that comes near to the assistant, quite often without recourse.  Their emails and written communications sometimes become unpleasant and demanding, resulting in the annoyance of the receiver, no matter who they are.

This is the tendency not only for assistants’ to directors, but also for those in Inside Sales or Sales support, wherein the assistant has a mandate to work with several people but really focuses on their boss, often going as far as re-writing their job description (unofficially), so that the rest of the company thinks that they’re doing something that they are not.  Their new self imposed job could well be make work projects with little real relevancy to their department and colleagues, therefore not attending to their perceived duties. The assistant, therefore does “jump high” but only for a small, select group within the organization who are probably unlikely (by the nature of their relationship) to reciprocate.

The Timekeeper

Arriving exactly at start-time and leaving at the official end of the working day, the Timekeeper religiously takes only their designated lunch and breaks at the official times.   Generally a good worker, attending to the day’s tasks, this person is not the one you want on your team when there is a company disaster or project in the making with crazy deadlines.   They perceive themselves as good employees and in one way they are but they live by the time stamp.  

When everyone else around them however is staying late or coming in early to achieve something important to the company and the employees’ jobs, the Timekeeper may well lose the trust and validation of their coworkers and management.   They may not have done anything wrong, but they are not seen as being passionate about anything including their company.   This personality builds a box around themselves that they are comfortable with and everyone else let’s them stay there.   The timekeeper is unlikely to “jump how high” and that attitude is universally returned.

The Politician

Ambitious and narcissistic, the politician sees themselves as a player in the organization, and makes all the correct alliances with those in management, who can fast track their career.   Everyone has tasks that are boring or unnoticeable, but this person will only apply themselves to a project that will do something for them.   The politician expects to be rewarded in some way, for everything.  Normally sociable and charming, the politician will attend every function in order to be noticed or profiled.  

Politicking is time consuming however, and the politician is often quite a delegator, taking the praise and none of the blame.  This type of person however is extremely transparent, flocks only to birds of the same feather and is perceived as self –serving. Who would “jump how high” to further the politician’s climb up the ladder?   

The Chosen one

This person is the one on the fast track, the mover and the shaker, and the one company does not want to lose.

The Chosen one always has the best assignments, the project with the greatest investment and likeliness to succeed.  They have access to the authority within the company and are nearly always one of the “inner circle”.   Wages and perks are good, and it’s perceived by co-workers as probably more.   A smart management will ensure that this person has earned a Fast Track, fair and square.

Heaven help the company when The Chosen One is not what management thinks they are.  If this person got on the Fast Track, due to sheer luck,  being in the right place at the right time, stealing someone else’s account or making another person look bad,
 many of the co-workers, sometimes in key positions, will be furious and jealous (including those that The Chosen One will have to rely on).

Jealousy is one of the most destructive emotions a human can have, and there well be more sabotage than “jumping high”.  Alternatively, if the Chosen One is a positive personality, having demonstrated their commitment and performance, they are likely to have one of the highest levels of co-operation and support from their colleagues.

The Good Guy/Gal

Ever smiling and affable, everyone likes this person.   Birthdays are remembered, and congratulations are offered.   This person is a friend, whether they are a manager or not.

There are difficulties however.   If in a management position, they may be seen as too nice, and not strong enough to enforce anything or to make the tough decision, eventually over time resulting in an ineffective manager.

The Good Guy/Gal however can get away with a lot of things.  They can easily develop poor work ethics, unofficially rewrite their own job descriptions, or in fact be just plain lousy at their job.  No one will complain about their friend and confidant.   There could in fact be quite a lot of “jumping high” .for a while…..to please, support and help this person.    The problem is that the Good Guy/Gal is not the only person in the company, requiring answers, support, help, and attention.   If Good Guy/Gal has over used the good will of colleagues and staff, it will dry up eventually and not be forthcoming when it really matters.

The Rule Keeper

We all need this personality. They follow and enforce the company procedures, job descriptions and regulations with almost religious fervour, sometimes forestalling internal failures by their methodology and knowledge of the company “machinery’.     Yet there is very little room for creative problem solving or reacting to a new situation that has not been documented or processed before.

Seen as a bureaucrat, this person will not step outside the confines of their duties, and will be defined them.   “It’s not my job” is a common line issued by the Rule Keeper and the buck may be passed to someone else.  Nevertheless, this person tends to be quite fair in their dealings with their co-workers, generally delivering the same level of support and responsiveness.    Whether efficient or not, fast or slow, the Rule Keeper will seldom be asked to perform outside of their “box” or “jump high” nor are they likely to ask this of anyone else.  In the changing business environment and current economic disaster, this could be a problem.

What to do?

These personalities are found in every organization in varying degrees.   They have all positive and negative aspects, and see themselves as the brilliant employee.   Expecting them to fix themselves therefore is futile.  They also are internal clients.  Management and Human Resources would have to do something , presuming that they recognize the need to address this issue.

In order to have people behave in a certain way, one needs to place them in a set of unique circumstances and situations that create the behaviour patterns that are desired.  Performance expectations should therefore be closely aligned to the ability to work with and tap into the other networks of the company.  The rewards given to the performance of the team should be more significant than those for the individual.    Job descriptions should include a workable methodology of interaction between departments and functions so that they clearly demonstrate how the company networks and interacts internally.    

A Company culture of teamwork and responsibility to each other is a must and there are many ways, this can be achieved.  Management can lead by example.  If someone sees their manager and their managers’ manager, “jumping high” for a client, internal or external, they will receive this positive message.   

How people in an organization “jump high” for each other, is truly indicative of how they are “jumping high” for the customer.   

Gloria Rubaine

Second Review Business Analysts

What is Wrong With Organ Transplants? Everything is Wrong With It!

Gita Saraydarian asked:

The issues of moral and ethical values have been swept under the rug. Masquerading under so-called life-giving values, organ transplanting has become big business. In reality, practices surrounding organ “harvesting” is a “logical” conclusion of a materialistic view of human life, driven by self-centeredness and greed.

In the first part of this article I have provided my basic opinion and provided the foundational reference that has provided guidance for my thoughts and conclusions. In the subsequent articles, I will write more details and expand my argument.

People all over the world have been made to believe that organ transplants are a wonderful and beneficial service for others. Doctors, celebrities, religious leaders, politicians and business people are encouraging people to donate their organs as well as to wait patiently for an organ to come their way. Gordon Brown is now advocating the “harvesting” of organs without explicit approval from the patients. Hospitals are setting up medical tourism to provide this service and increase revenue.

Sick people are encouraged to hang onto life in terrible pain and misery, waiting and waiting and hoping and hoping for a rescue. I recently saw a Television program in which an elderly person with heart problems was on a waiting list. He kept saying how he was daily hoping for a heart transplant. I wondered if he even thought for one minute that his wish for a heart meant that someone had to die first! Some child, some partner, some person had to be declared clinically dead and then held in life until his or her body parts could be removed.

Something is terribly wrong here. I know that it is popular to think that there is nothing wrong with organ transplants, but there is and there are many people in this world who strongly disagree with this practice. We need to speak up and protect ourselves.

When grisly details emerged about one nation (reported thus far) accused of deliberately timing executions of criminals and selling organs of the dead criminals, people made such a stink about it. Yet this kind of behaviour is a logical outcome of the materialistic view of life and living. Now we hear that the “Health Ministry has explicitly banned sales of human organs in an apparent attempt to clean up the country’s lucrative but laxly regulated transplant business” (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12050522/). And Gordon Brown wants everyone to be on the waiting list so that parts of the bodies can be taken out unless you made sure to opt out. How nice that we hear reports of the efficiency with which Spain has such a policy and they are providing plenty of organs.

Surely there are many of us who disagree with this practice? See for example an excellent article by Michael Tymn (http://www.beyondtheveil.net/organs.html). It is time that we give a loud voice to our opinions and beliefs. If you are one of these, and you reject organ harvesting, make sure that your family understands your wishes and that your Will explicitly states that you do not wish to have your body parts “harvested.”

Even this word “harvest” is interesting, as if we were picking oranges or apples or bananas to take to market, picked just at the right time!

The Esoteric Teachings speak clearly against organ transplants. To begin this series of articles, I have provided an excellent reprint of a Chapter from the book Other Worlds by Torkom Saraydarian, titled “Organ Transplants.” You are welcome to link to it and read it. In the next few weeks, I will expand on my opinions and conclusions and provide an alternative view of life and how we can deal with illness and the gift of living life after life.

Why am I against organ transplants? Here are some reasons:

1. It retards the evolving path of the departed soul by tying it to the physical earth; it complicates the life of the recipient with the karma of the departed. Every physical part of our bodies is impressed by the experiences of all the lifetimes lived on earth. When a soul is born into a body, all the recordings in the soul from previous lives are impressed on the physical body. Then added to this mix are all of the person’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual life experiences from the present life. The recipient takes on the complete personal recordings and life histories of the donor as well as his or her karma from all lifetimes. We are in a double bind: The departed soul is tied to the physical plane, to the recipient, for as long as the recipient lives. The recipient is tied to the departed. This is why we have so many documented cases of recipients taking on the characteristics of the donor, even to the point of developing the same kind of immune system. The result is one body part with two souls attached to it.

2. It emphasizes quick fixes and does not look for causes of illness in the physical, emotional, mental, and karmic worlds; it takes the “easy” and material path to dealing with human problems.

3. It encourages criminal and ethically questionable practices by governments, hospitals, and medical personnel. Everyone focuses on quick fixes.

4. It encourages people to desire life at the expense of others; it makes people physically and materially centered at the expense of the overall spiritual principles of life. In wishing for an organ for oneself, one is in effect wishing for someone else to die and make his or her body parts available.

5. It forces poor people to sell body parts and preys on the weak, the poor, and the defenseless; it unfairly tips the scales toward the rich and powerful.

6. It makes the families of the departed feel guilty and depraved if they choose not to donate the organs of the departed.

7. It promotes the erroneous involvement by politicians, popular actors and media savvy persons, as well as medical centers into trying to manage life and its meaning, instead of leaving these questions to the spiritual aspects of one’s life.

8. It demeans the sanctity of human life and takes advantage of the departed at their most vulnerable point in physical live.

9. It ignores the complexity and depth of human life, human experiences, the purpose of life, the subtle bodies of human beings, and dismisses the ramifications of manipulating the natural process of life. It focuses only on the immediate material needs for living.

10. It promotes fear of illness and death, likening both to battles to be fought and “won” instead of being processes for learning and redemption.

11. It encourages a person to attach to physical life when all signs point to the need to leave this plane for a short time and re-emerge. It prevents a person from learning key lessons from the karmic conditions that brought the person to the illness or situation. If we learn from our life conditions, these conditions will not be repeated. If we do not learn from them, and cover them up, the fixes are only temporary and we will still need to deal with the causes next time around. The misery and suffering is therefore complicated further and lasts longer than it needs to.

We should indeed take proper medical services needed to live healthy and productive lives. We need to learn to live in a healthy and natural way and learn the causes of a healthy life. I do not believe in suicide nor do I believe in assisted suicide. There is a deeply spiritual and redemptive quality in learning our lessons well in each lifetime, whether we are the sick and suffering or the caretaker of the sick and suffering.

But we do not need to prolong a sick physical body. We are not simply our physical bodies. We are not simply material beings destined to be fertilizers on earth. We need n
ot feel guilty for not donating organs. Nor do we need to make bereaving relatives and family members feel guilty for not donating body parts of a deceased relative. Our life quality is not measured by years on earth in one lifetime; we have thousands of lifetimes in which to grow and learn.

Fear of aging, fear of illness, and fear of dying keeps us tied to the physical existence as if nothing else exits. Fear forces us to emphasize the outer at the expense of inner development; it is extremely short sighted. We grieve when we lose a loved one. This is natural and should take its course. We grieve for our own loss since essentially we cannot grieve for the departure of the other person. No one belongs to us and each person takes birth into a particular family and nation, and then moves out of it. Every birth puts us in a different configuration. This is not news and is taught in all the Ancient Wisdom traditions. We do not belong to one family forever, to one nation forever, to one religion forever, to one race forever. The soul experiences all facets of human life and human existence on earth.

My views are not meant to hurt or insult anyone. Each person should have the freedom to make decisions based on his or her belief system and these decisions should not be forced on us by our religious leaders, politicians, doctors, popular figures, financial considerations, and the like. I am advocating a truly informed decision based on a holistic view of life and not a decision based on sappy emotionalism and pushy sentimentality that is forced on us having undercurrents of dubious motives.

Being treated with dignity at our most vulnerable time is our human right. Every human being has the right to be treated with dignity, no matter what he or she has done. When you are dead, your body must be respected and treated with dignity. When you are dying, you need to be treated with dignity and not have vultures circling around you. When you are on the operating table, you need to know that you are being treated with dignity. It is at the most vulnerable times in our life that dignity outshines all human expressions. When we are not able to speak up for ourselves, it is the height of human dignity to find someone who will.

Gita Saraydarian

gita@tsgfoundation.org

Spiritual Progressives Unite to confront the Religious Right, the Anti-Religious Left, and the Empir

Eileen Fleming asked:

An individual has not started living until he or she can rise above the narrow confines of his or her individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.

During the third week of May, in Washington D.C. over 1,200 patriotic Americans of all faiths and the spiritual but not religious came together for the second conference of The Network of Spiritual Progressives/NSP and to lobby Congress. The activists are challenging the misuse of religion, God and spirit by the Religious Right and the anti-religious and anti-spiritual biases within the Liberal Left.

Authentic spirituality will inevitably lead one to become political. The Network of Spiritual Progressives is a diverse community that is unified by one heart that is broken over the state of the world and our nation. These activists are willing to sacrifice their life, resources and time to the work of confronting the Old Bottom Line in America which is based on greed, materialism, selfishness, power and over consumption.

The New Bottom Line proposes that institutions and social practices should be based on the higher values of love, caring, generosity, and equal human rights. The NSP proposes that the well being of every American depends on the well being of everyone in the world and recognizes our interdependence with all people and Mother Earth.

On May 18th the activists visited their Congressional Representatives to present “A Spiritual Covenant with America.”

The eight point platform addresses individual, social and governmental responsibility for ethical behavior that honors the sacredness of all life. As the debate over immigration was going on in Congress many activists were promoting a rational approach to immigration through a strategy of non-violence and generosity that works to eliminate poverty not with a hand out but with furnishing the means and the support to enable the impoverished to attain a decent life.

The NSP supports a “Global Marshall Plan to use 5% of the GDP of the advanced industrial societies-each year for the next twenty years-to end global poverty, hunger, homelessness, inadequate education, and inadequate health care. This will do more for homeland security and military safety than does sinking trillions of dollars into wars and strategies of world domination that can never work and are immoral…not by dumping money into the hands of corrupt governments, but through cooperation with NGO’s committed to human rights, democracy, environmental sustainability and enhancement and respect for native cultures and traditions.” [Number 7 in The Spiritual Covenant with America]

Many will say the NSP members are all dreamers, but it was dreamers who imagined life without slavery, civil rights, and women’s rights and it was Rilke who first understood: “You must give birth to your dreams: they are the future waiting to be born.”

These ‘out-of-the-box’ thinkers and visionaries will not be satisfied with any short-term political gain. The task of transforming society requires commitment, persistence and a deep inner life. What progressive spiritual activists have in common is a broken heart united over the plight of the poor and oppressed, a commitment to total non-violent resistance no matter what the provocation, and sacrificial lives that offer time and resources to actualize the message Christ spoke of when he proclaimed on the Mount of The Beatitudes, that the reign and the kingdom of God is a kingdom where all beings are equal and valued just as they are.

In a country that possesses 11,000 nuclear weapons with many in excess of 20,000,000 tons of TNT [the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were 12,000 tons] yet claims to be based on the Judeo-Christian ethic of thou shalt not kill, is staggering in it’s hypocrisy. The law of Karma is what goes around comes around and the fallout from one of these WMD will find its way back home through water and wind currents and the words of Pogo come to mind: “We have seen the enemy and he is us.”

Mankind is the only species that has the choice of annihilating itself. “Since the end of the Cold War, the world has spent more than $10 trillion on armaments. The Untied States alone spends approximately $100 million every day to keep its nuclear arsenal at the ready.” [Jonathon Granoff, TIKKUN Magazine 9/11/03]

American money proclaims “In God We Trust” but the facts on the ground are that we have become an empire of blasphemers.

Fundamentalist Christians rail against abortion yet are for capital punishment and war. They have narrowed morality down to abortion and same sex marriage and neglect that God is love and where ever there is love: God is there.

If we are serious about a peaceful world we must have a moral agenda that stands firmly against empire building and violence. John Dear, the Jesuit priest who has been arrested 75 times for his peace activism asked Cesar Chavez what he thought was the key to peace, and Chavez exclaimed: “Public Action! Public action! Public action!”

In the ’60’s we understood if one is not a part of the solution, one is part of the problem. Throughout America patriotic spiritual activists of all faith paths and the spiritual but not religious have found common ground and are doing something more than criticizing and whining. Chapters of The Network of Spiritual Progressives are forming from the New York Islands to the Gulf Stream waters for this world belongs to all human beings.

The Philosophy And Ethics Of Neuro Linguistic Programming NLP

Shawn Carson asked:

Neuro Linguistic Programming NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder from studying three leading therapists, Milton Erickson, Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls. Since then it has become a leading toll in business management, sales, education, training, personal coaching and sports as well as therapy and many other areas.

NLP AS PHILOSOPHY

However NLP can also be viewed as a life philosophy. In particular, NLP can be used to help us decide how we should live our lives (i.e. ethics), the nature of reality (metaphysics) and the nature of knowledge (i.e. epistemology).

The remainder of this article discusses the philosophy of Neuro Linguistic Programming, focusing in particular on the NLP Presuppositions.

NLP PRESUPPOSITIONS

NLP can itself be viewed as an epistemology, in the sense that it has basic presuppositions upon which the rest of the discipline is built. The detailed presuppositions vary depending upon the teacher, author, or school of NLP with which one is dealing with, although most are common to all practitioners.

Common Neurolinguistic Presupposition include:

1. The map is not the territory.

2. Everyone lives in their own unique model of the world.

3. The positive worth of an individual is held constant; it is only behavior which may not be appropriate.

4. Every behavior has a positive intention.

It should be noted that the Presuppositions of NLP are not deemed to be true or false. They are considered to be useful in doing therapy or simply living our lives.

THE ETHICS OF NLP

You will note from the above presuppositions that NLP puts value on the individual, irrespective of the behavior that they may be engaged in at any particular time. This is a vital belief for a therapist who may be treating a disturbed individual, who engages in self destructive or otherwise negative behavior.

In fact, valuing the other as an individual is the basis of many ethical and religious systems.

In addition, not only does each individual have a constant positive worth, each behavior has a positive intention. So even when someone does something that could really annoy us, by believing that they have a positive intention we give ourselves permission to think the best and move on without experiencing anger. Someone cuts you off in traffic, you can get mad, or you can wonder what emergency they are going to, or what other issues they have in their life that make them behave in that way.

NLP teaches us that each individual has their own map or model of the world, which is unique to that individual. In NLP we are taught to respect those maps. So, when we meet another person, we can be respectfully curious about their map of the world, curious about their beliefs and values, curious about how they see things, and what they feel.

NLP actually goes further than this. It tells us that the map is not the territory. That our map is not reality. Not just other people’s map, but our map as well. It tells us that we have no monopoly on being right, and in fact we are by definition wrong, at least to the extent that we think we’re right!

CONCLUSION

As we study NLP and take the Presuppositions of NLP to heart, we will begin to respect other people and ourselves more. Knowing that each person has a unique map allows us the space to accept and even value the differences that exist.

We can also begin to accept our own weaknesses as we separate our behavior from our identity. This gives us the ability to look at our own weaknesses with empathy and know that we can change them without losing our self.

Sharing Christ in the Workplace

Darlene G. Snyder asked:

Our Mandate

Do you believe there is ever a time when we should not witness?  What do you think about witnessing in the workplace, is it ethical?  As Christians, should we consider the employer before taking their time to witness?  When is it ok to share Christ at work?

Some might say regardless of where we work, Christians should give employer’s a fair day’s work. We should not cheat by taking away from their time to witness. While I would agree, we need to be honest in all our dealings, including in the workplace, I believe it is erroneous to think Christians should not share at work.

It is the calling of a Christian to represent Christ to people, even those in the workplace. We need only to look at Matthew 28:19-20 – the commission to all Christians to be witnesses. In addition, God has placed us where we are with definite gifts and the potential to proclaim His truth in our world, which includes our workplace.

As Christians, we should be aware of company rules and guidelines. Even then, I believe opportunities abound and we can share in other ways. Sometimes, it just takes awareness on our part and taking advantage of opportunities to share when they arise.

Our Behavior

I’ve worked for thirty-five years, most jobs I held were office related. I did, however work in a factory for a few years, and I understand when we are on a timeline to complete a project, witnessing may be the last thing on our minds. After all, in some instances, the wrong approach could cause us to lose our job.

For the last twenty years, I’ve worked as Supervisor in a busy office. I must confess, in all of my years working, I allowed many witnessing opportunities pass me by. I stumbled making many mistakes along my way.

It is difficult enough to witness, but with the actions of some Christians in the workplace, it serves only to make witnessing harder for those of us who are trying to share the gospel.

I’ve seen Christians who whine, fuss, and even curse when things don’t go their way. In addition, the way they conduct themselves in their personal life is appalling to those of us who are trying to win others to Christ. This type behavior has turned many people away from Christ.

Ephesians 6:5-8 describes the way we are to approach our jobs. Some of the behaviors represented are, obedience, the right attitude, commitment and diligence. If our behavior is anything less, we send a message to those who are lost that our heart is set on earthly things. We are not showing Christ to them. If we work using these verses as guidelines, our workplace will become our mission field.

In some work settings, showing Christ is the only way to share Him. If we fail in this area, no one is going to listen to us when we do find opportunities to witness verbally.

Another way we can show Christ is to do our work well. Whatever we do in word or deed, we must do in the name of Jesus (Col. 3:17). Our actions should reflect Christ. Whatever we do or say in our workplace is a way of sharing Christ.

Our Relationships

How many hours do you spend in the workplace each week?  Like many others, you likely spend most of your waking hours there. We build relationships with co-workers, customers and others in our work setting. Some of us are employed in more of a relaxed work atmosphere, talking freely to one another. Yet, sharing Christ seems a little scary. Fear keeps us from witnessing.

I’ve found no matter where I’ve worked, people are looking for answers. Mostly they are looking for spiritual answers. It’s not an accident we find ourselves where we are. God has placed us there to share and He gives us opportunities to share our faith at work.

I love the promise found in Philippians 4:19 that says God shall supply my needs according to his riches in glory. This promise came alive to me one day recently.

My mind on the tasks of the day before me, I was approached by two employees who asked to speak to me privately. This was not something out of the ordinary. Many times employees approach me, in need of a listening ear, seeking advice or in need of instruction or clarification regarding their jobs.

When the door shut behind us, I was somewhat caught off guard. The non-Christian employee had approached her Christian co-worker in tears, wanting to talk about spiritual matters. They wanted my help and asked if I had a Bible.

If the Christian employee and I had not developed a relationship with this non-Christian, she may have never found her way to Christ. We were able to share with her that day and eventually she received Christ as her personal Savior.

Jesus, Our Example

It is the workplace where Jesus spent most of his time and ministry. His first four disciples were working when he called them. They were not expecting to meet Jesus. Their mind was on their jobs, fishing and mending nets. Then there are the vineyard workers, tax collectors, centurions, carpenters, scribes, and more; all busy at work when they met Jesus.

Jesus was fully human, experiencing what we experience in our lives and work. He knows our feelings, our insecurities and our hardships. Yet, He continued witnessing, even when others were against Him.

There is so much darkness in the world. We are to be the light that eliminates the darkness from our workplace.

How then are we to be that light?  We first recognize that Jesus the Light, gives us the strength and that He is always with us, even when we face the darkness. Where can a Christian go that His presence is not there?  Psalms 139 reminds us that there isn’t anywhere we can go that He isn’t there.

1st Peter 4:14 (NKJV) says If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you for the Spirit of glory rests upon you… We must realize that not everyone will be open to our sharing. We must show respect to these people, even when we are reproached by them. The only thing you can do is to live your life as an example. Allow the Holy Spirit to work. Pray daily for them and you will be blessed.

Tips for Sharing

·       Get to know the people with whom you work. It is easier to witness if you know their background, beliefs and personalities.

·       Look for common interest. If one likes basketball, talk to them about your favorite team.

·       Show them you are interested in their life by listening. Ask questions. You can’t expect them to listen to you if you aren’t interested in what they have to say.

·       Attend events and functions with them. This shows you are involved in other things outside the church.

·       Your actions, attitude and behavior in the workplace can influence others. Be sure to think before acting or reacting. Others are watching.

·       Integrate your faith into your work. Bow your head, asking the blessing over your food before eating. Read your Bible during breaks. Let Co-workers know you are praying for them when difficulties arise in their lives.

·       Invite people to church. Don’t harass them but if the opportunity arises during conversations, don’t be afraid to invite them to attend a worship service. Volunteer to pick them up on your way.

·       Handle difficulties in a Christ like manner. Perfection is not expected nor required. Even Christians face difficult times. The manner in which you respond to the complexities of your world, speaks more than any words you have to say.

·       Your work is important to God. When you have a bad day, turn to Christ for solace and encouragement.

·       Share your story. Your experiences might be just what a co-worker needs to hear.

Our Mission

For Christians, sharing Christ should come as natural as breathing. Some of us go a lifetime without witnessing to those lost around us. It is shameful for us not to try reach them for Christ. Remember He opened the door to salvation for you when you were not part of the original family of God.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”  Ephesians 2:13 (NKJV)

Life for Christians has one goal: accomplish God’s mission. According to Acts 1:8, our mission is to be His witnesses. Once we understand the importance and the urgency, then our mindset, views and life will change.

Recalling what Christ did for us at Calvary, we should strive to live our faith in every part of our lives. If we do, sharing will become as ordinary as breathing.

Get More Value from Your Values… By Walking Good Talk

Donald Mitchell asked:

As difficult as it is to determine and reinforce the values of an organization, it’s even more difficult to be sure that those in the organization live those values in visible ways. But that visible following of values is much more valuable than simply establishing the values in the beginning.

Here’s an example. Habitat for Humanity is one of the fastest-growing large organizations on earth. This charitable enterprise finds deserving people who cannot afford decent housing, helps them build such housing at modest cost, and provides a no-interest mortgages to finance the purchases.

A key element of Habitat’s ethic is that the organization is based on Christian principles, and Habitat sees itself as a Christian ministry. This religious ethical foundation enables Habitat to draw on teachings about “helping thy neighbor” and “loving thy neighbor as thyself.”

Habitat uses these values as an irresistible force to draw volunteers and resources to the organization. Naturally, the group carefully lives up to its creed. Although the charity operates from one set of religious principles, people of many faiths support Habitat’s work out of respect for the values that Habitat upholds.

To some this enterprise may sound like a fairy tale. Check it out. I think you’ll be impressed.

While conventional builders take weeks and months to complete the simplest structure, Habitat routinely builds housing in hours or just a few days as part of special events. Its members rigorously work to reduce costs, improve quality, and accelerate progress, and are the world standard in much of what they do. Now that’s a breakthrough solution!

Right now, there’s a housing crisis in the United States because so many home owners cannot pay their mortgages. As a result, conventional home builders are losing billions of dollars as homes sit empty.

Compare that sad circumstance with what Habitat can accomplish. As home and land prices drop, Habitat can afford to start more homes. If building material prices also drop, Habitat will be able to build its homes at lower prices. As a result, more people will enjoy being in homes where those who buy from conventional builders will have lost.

The Habitat home owners put no cash down into their homes, and they pay no interest. Those homes aren’t going to be repossessed for nonpayment. In fact, if a Habitat home owner has problems paying, there’s flexibility to help the home owner find another job or to reschedule the payments.

Imagine how much better it feels to work for Habitat (for pay or as a volunteer) than to be with a conventional builder.

Is your enterprise based on values that are this inspiring for you and the rest of your organization?

If not, now is a good time to see what you can do to draw on rich value roots such as faith-based ones to create an irresistible force for accomplishing more.

Ethics of Abortion

CD Mohatta asked:

Abortion will always remain a topic of discussion. Lot of religious, ethical and practical issues are involved in abortion. Is abortion killing? Is abortion taking away the rights of an unborn child? Is it not murder? And what if the parents or the mother does not want the child? Who will take care? Why should she carry a child in her womb if she does not want it? How about her rights? Such questions keep getting asked when the subject of abortion comes up.

I saw a discussion where a woman wanted to abort a child conceived because of rape. In this discussion also I could not find everybody agreeing to get aborted. Some religions forbid it. Karma theory says that you get raped because of your past karma and you must bear the pain of bringing up the child to wash off your bad karma. Some religions say that life itself it too precious. Only God can take it away. No body else can do that.

Ethically speaking the subject becomes very hot. Because we have our own ethics. My ethics need not be same as those of yours. Something like ethics of lying. Some people feel it ethical to lie if it helps someone. Others say that one should never lie irrespective of the result. Abortion has similar results if you look at opinions. Some people are very much for it while others are totally against it.

I have a simple question. If one cannot kill a newly born child, how can one kill a child who is unborn? Because we feel that the child is without life at that time? Who can give a definite answer to the question of when the child becomes a living being? I do not think that other than God any body knows the answer.

People of the Book are One Another’s Trusted Friends

Harun Yahya asked:

Islam is the religion of peace, love and tolerance. However, nowadays certain circles are trying to give Islamic morality the wrong image. The religion of Islam commands people to create an “abode of peace and well-being” on the face of the Earth, but those circles try to show the opposite of this as if there was a conflict between followers of other religions and Muslims. However, the view Islamic morality takes of Jews and Christians known in the Qur’an as the “People of the Book” is extremely just and merciful. God makes this known in the Qur’an as follows:

God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. God loves those who are just. (Qur’an, 60:8)

Only argue with the People of the Book in the kindest way – except in the case of those of them who do wrong – saying, “We believe in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you. Our God and your God are one and we submit to Him.” (Qur’an, 29:46)

The Qur’an states that there are those among the People of the Book who are sincere in their belief:

Among the People of the Book there are some who believe in God and in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down to them, and who are humble before God. They do not sell God’s signs for a paltry price. Such people will have their reward with their Lord. And God is swift at reckoning. (Qur’an, 3:199)

… There is a community among the People of the Book who are upright. They recite God’s signs throughout the night, and they prostrate. They believe in God and the Last Day, and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong, and compete in doing good. They are among the righteous. You will not be denied the reward for any good thing you do. God knows those who guard against evil. (Qur’an, 3:113-115)

Those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabaeans and the Christians, all who believe in God and the Last Day and act rightly will feel no fear and will know no sorrow. (Qur’an, 5:69)

In the books of truth sent by God as guidance to His people, a community model is described that is based on love, peace, tolerance and justice. For example, in the Qur’an God tells that the Torah brought down to the Jews is a guidance for people:

We sent down the Torah containing guidance and light, and the prophets who had submitted themselves gave judgment by it for the Jews – as did their scholars and their rabbis – by what they had been allowed to preserve of God’s Book to which they were witnesses… (Qur’an, 5:44)

The arguments and conflicts between Jews, Christians and Muslims based on historical problems, prejudices, misunderstandings and misapprehensions should be put to an end once and for all. Followers of all three religions should live in mutual understanding and tolerance. What is important is to bring up points in common rather than differences, to be helpful rather than troublesome, constructive rather than destructive, cooperative rather than obstructive, integral rather than separate, and to cause unity rather than segregation. In the Qur’an God makes known as follows this responsibility of the believers:

Those who do not believe are the friends and protectors of one another. If you do not act in this way there will be turmoil in the land and great corruption. (Qur’an, 8:73)

God has ordered the believers to be the peacemakers and protectors of peace on Earth. He has condemned those who disturb peace on Earth, declare war without just cause (such as defense or salvation from oppression), disrupters, and killers of innocent people. Our Lord has ordered believers to create a world where all people can live in peace and it is one of the important responsibilities to ensure peace and security for mankind.

At the root of wars, conflicts and all forms of corruption is man’s distancing from the true religious moral values. Sometimes the perverse interpretations of certain individuals allegedly in the name of religion can influence people who have insufficient knowledge of the true religious ethic. And this may cause them to commit acts that are totally inappropriate in terms of religious ethic. The solidarity of the believers gains importance in the face of people who believe in the necessity of solving disagreements and problems by violent means, those who persecute people with oppressive and despotic implementations.

Every Christian, Muslim or Jewish believer is obliged to do his utmost to strive to this end. It is right for those Muslims, Jews and Christians who believe in one God, who try to gain His approval, who have surrendered to Him, whose hearts are bound to Him, who praise Him, and who essentially defend the same values, to act in partnership. Sincere believers should unite in order to live according to the moral values of religion, prevent the disasters caused by irreligion, struggle intellectually against atheism and materialism.

Prejudices arising from ignorance or the provocations of those who are against the religious moral values should be banished. Jews, Christians and Muslims should try to cooperate to spread the high moral values on Earth. This cooperation should be built on the founding principles of love, respect, tolerance, understanding, harmony and cooperation. It is necessary to consider the immediate need for action, and to keep far away from elements that can lead to conflict, argument and dissidence. In the Qur’an the Muslims’ call to the People of the Book for unity is made known as follows:

Say: “People of the Book! Come to a proposition which is the same for us and you – that we should worship none but God and not associate any partners with Him and not take one another as lords besides God.” (Qur’an, 3:64)

Under the pen name of Harun Yahya, Adnan Oktar has written some 250 works. His books contain a total of 46,000 pages and 31,500 illustrations. Of these books, 7,000 pages and 6,000 illustrations deal with the collapse of the Theory of Evolution. You can read, free of charge, all the books Adnan Oktar has written under the pen name Harun Yahya on these websites www.harunyahya.com

Moral Theology

Ernie Fitzpatrick asked:

Much of the church has attempted to make Christianity solely about ethics and morals. Guess who wins at that game? No one! There is no such thing as moral perfection and few if any absolutes this side of the third dimension. There is only ONE who is holy and that is the Creator and that same Creator is not turned off by our sins as the church and most religions would instruct you.

I like the statement by James Mulholland wherein he writes, “God has been pictured in a sparkling white robe, sitting on a heavenly throne high above human contamination. God desires relationship with us but grows squeamish at the very thought of touching or being touched by such disgusting creatures.” Hey, back off you created us! You knew what you were doing (omniscience) and you saw it all ahead of time. Didn’t you?

So, what’s up with the “get out of my face” theology of the American church? Fear based religion just simply doesn’t cut it any more.

I can’t tell you how long I bought the religious dogma that somehow God was disgusted and disgraced by the SIN OF JESUS as He hung on the cross. Why did I buy into that? If God couldn’t stomach looking at Jesus, how in the hell (metaphorically speaking) could God stand me? I know, I know, because NOW God loves me since Jesus died for my sins. But why are so many still living in fear of God? Real dreaded fear!

How many sermons have been preached that the skies became dark as Jesus was nailed on that cross because God in all of His righteousness and holiness could not stand to look upon the SIN of Jesus. I bought that line. It sounded so, so religious. But then I asked myself, how is it that clouds and darkness somehow shielded the sins of Jesus from God? God can’t see through clouds now? Tell me, how does that reasoning work anyway? The answers will come if you want His and not yours!

It doesn’t!

And that is why Jesus came to touch the unclean, the lay hands on the lepers, and to socialize with the prostitutes and wicked tax collectors, because they’ll enter heaven before the religious Pharisiacal crowd. Jesus isn’t turned off by my sins, nor is God! The scandal of grace of course turns us off. We religious ones want fairness- until we need forgiveness. I don’t know about you but I need forgiveness everyday and God’s always faithful to deliver that to me and more!

Moral theology alone or primarily is only worthless works.

Being in love with God, Creator, Being, Consciousness is thr reality of the spiritual life that Jesus advocated and more importantly implored us to FOLLOW!

Ethical Conduct: the Importance of High Moral Standards

William Allan Kritsonis, PhD asked:

 

 

                        Ethical Conduct: The Importance of High Moral Standards

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ABSTRACT

Ethical conduct should inspire a quality of behavior that exemplifies honor and dignity for oneself.  In a school district, teachers, administrators, staff, and school board members should understand the importance of ethical conduct in the educational arena.  An effective educational organization entails the need of individuals maintaining integrity and high morals.  The Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning (2007) by William Allan Kritsonis, PhD provides insight in improving ethical conduct in the educational environment.

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Introduction

     Employees of a school district should serve with honor.  Individuals should strive to help students reach their potential to be socially and responsible citizens.  School district employees should understand the importance of upholding ethical values.  The following statement by Harry Wong emphasize the significance of educators valued principles:  “Teachers are not in private practice.  We are in the helping and caring profession, a service profession to help people enhance the quality of their lives.”  The supportiveness, safety, and security of all areas are crucial in the learning environment.

 

Purpose of the Article

     The purpose of this article is to discuss ten recommendations that are important in the improvement of ethical conduct.  The Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of Meaning (2007) provides insight in improving ethical conduct in the educational environment.  Dr. William Allan Kristonis is a noted author, professor, lecturer, consultant, editor-in-chief, and publisher.  Using his expertise, he has detailed concepts in the realms of ethics.  The focus of this essay is regarding the improvement of ethical conduct for school administrators.  The administrator is responsible for providing leadership to the school community.  The recommendations that are given will enhance the character development of principals and leaders as they model behavior for the students and staff.

 

Ethical Theory

 

     The development of ethical theory dates back to Plato and Aristotle.  The word ethic has its roots in the Greek word ethos.  Ethos is the perceived degree of character or credibility that a person believes exists in another person or object (Haskins, 2000).  The amount of trust and belief one has in another will have an important impact in how persuasive one will be. 

     According to Kritsonis (2007), the value of ethical theory is in guiding teaching and learning.  In the ethical realm, emphasis should be on ethical understanding and how it may be improved.  A person who has knowledge of ethical theory is as moral as a person who lacks such knowledge.  Moral conduct pertains to one’s actions in certain situations.  To solve a problem, one should be clear of the choices for the given situation.  Kritsonis (2007) precisely states, “Before a person can know where to go, he needs to understand where he is starting from.” There must be a mission in order to fulfill a vision.  Moral decisions require a set of values to serve as a form of reference inn evaluating the consequences.

     The values and morals an individual finds appropriate are called ethics.  Ethical theory supplies rules.  These rules are guidelines used in making decisions about a particular situation.  Ethics in leadership deal with what leaders do and who they are.  How leaders respond to a given situation and the choices they make are led by ethics.  The concerns of ethical leaders are issues of justice and fairness.  One cannot be a leader without involving values.  One must be sensitive to the needs of others, care for others, and treat them in ways that are just in order to be an ethical leader.

Character Development

 

     Character education programs teach students how to be good citizens and develop aspects of decision making.  Effective character education programs affect the student’s ability to be socially and personally responsible.  Holloway (2006) identifies the fact that character education promotes core ethical values, creates a caring school community, and engages the staff as a learning community that instills morals. 

     In order for a school community to work well, the members must be aware of expectations.  The principal is significant in building trust among the community.  Principals lay the foundation for respect and personal regard.  The actions of the administrator contribute to a positive learning environment in the school.  There must be equal treatment among the different student groups.  There should be a common link for success among all groups.

     Principals must understand the importance of creating an effective learning community.  There must be an open line of communication between the principal and stakeholders.  Administrators must be available to students, teachers, and staff members throughout the day.  They must also attend school and community events.  The use of surveys is important in the correspondence to stakeholders.  Kritsonis (2007) states that in all realms, the ability to communicate intelligibly and forcefully can be coordinated with other aspects into an integrated vision and commitment.  The display of a principal’s character can inspire character development in faculty and students.

 

Integrity

 

     Integrity means that the behaviors of leaders are consistent with their stated values and that they are honest, ethical, responsible and trustworthy (Hoy and Miskel, 2005).  Integrity is to say what one means.  One must deliver what is promised, and stand for what is right.  To be ethical means to be fair.  Leaders should treat stakeholders fairly, equitably, and with dignity.  Administrators an inspire integrity by recognizing positive behaviors in teachers and students.  A principal must concur to be liable to a high standard of ethical behavior.  Leaders should lead by being an example. 

     The language of morals should be ordinary language (Kritsonis, 2007).  No special concepts are needed in expressing intended meanings.  When one states, “This action is right,” he is not meaning that it is enjoyable.  There are some leaders whom have inspired us by their sense of integrity and moral values such as Jesus, Isaiah, Confucius, and Moses.  National heroes were exemplified moral courage were Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and Joan of Arc.  Moral philosophers that contributed to moral leadership were Socrates, St. Augustine, Immanuel Kant, and John Dewey.

             In the educational field, there have been investigations reporting negative academic integrity and faculty wrongdoing.  Faculty and student misconduct has been widespread.  There has been wrongdoing ranging from plagiarism to falsification of data.  There have also been violations of teaching norms to sexual or other harassment.  Some campuses have been investigated for breaches of regulations.  Academic integrity cannot be coerc
ed, neither can it be taught.  For an organization to function using high moral standards there must be a leader that inspires a sense of integrity.

     Displaying a high level of integrity can also relay the message that the leader is fair and just.  The leaders treat all individuals in an equal manner.  In some cases individuals might be treated differently due to specific circumstances.  Leaders must be fair when dealing with awards and punishments. 

 

Responsibility

        The realms of esthetics are concerned with active personal commitment (Kritsonis, 2007).  Morally, one is obliged to do right, and if one fails, he feels guilty. An effective leader should be responsible.  Responsibility entails dependability, initiative, persistence, aggressiveness, self-confidence, and the desire to excel.  One must be liable for one’s own actions.  Individuals must report concerns and rule violations.

     Leaders in education have an ethical responsibility.  They must have a moral vision of what is expected of them.  Starratt (2005) identifies five domains of responsibility that are central to educational leadership.  They are as follows:

 

·        Responsibility as a human being

·        Responsibility as a citizen and public servant

·        Responsibility as an educator

·        Responsibility as an educational administrator

·        Responsibility as an educational leader

·        Responsibility as a human being

 

Trust

 

     Trust is building confidence through teamwork and open communication.  In an effective school environment there is a culture of trust.  There is mutual trust between the principal and staff, there is mutual trust between the colleagues, and there is faculty commitment to the school.

Hoy and Miskel (2005) states, “Trust is like air; no one thinks much about it until it is needed and it is not there.”  It is important to have trust in schools.  It facilitates cooperation ad promotes cohesiveness.  Trust has also been shown to improve student achievement. 

     Leaders should build a sense of trust within the environment.  Their trust is built by behavior that is considerate, supportive, and collegial.  When there is a high level of trust toward the principal, it is believed that the principal is benevolent, reliable, knowledgeable, honest, and open with the staff.  Trust can be a powerful aspect of successful leadership.

     Haskins (2000) suggests the following for improving trust through communication:

 

·        Adapt messages to listeners by being sincere and honest in presenting the information.

·        Identify strengths and weaknesses in information to demonstrate the speaker’s honesty in presenting messages.

·        Introduce sources that were used in developing the presentation.

·        Explain the soundness of analysis, arguments, and evidence that can help reinforce trust.

·        Earn trust by showing trust towards others in the educational process.  

 

     Confidentiality falls in the category of trust.  Leaders should stress the importance of confidentiality of student information.  The school must maintain accurate and comprehensive student records.  Records cannot be released without the consent of parents or guardians.  Staff members are forbidden to discuss a student’s private information.  Leaders should not only value the confidentiality of students but the importance of confidentiality of staff members as well.

     Kritsonis (2007) believes that there are certain principles, such as the duty to keep promises and to tell the truth.  Obvious differences in principle may really be the difference in application due to different circumstances.  Leaders must prove to be trustworthy to achieve a cohesive working environment. 

 

Honesty

     In the empirical realm, meanings are factual (Kritsonis, 2007).  There is a distinction between empirical meaning and ethical meanings.  If one was more clearly understood, then there would be less confusion about ethical questions.  Ethical statements are neither true nor false, but they are expressions of personal preferences.  Ethical language is used to alter feelings and behaviors.

     In the education arena, one should be truthful and honest with one another.  This includes teachers, administrators, parents, and community members.  To be a good leader, one must be honest.  When one thinks of dishonesty, one sees the significance of being honest.  Dishonesty is lying, being deceitful, and not trusted by ones peers.  When a leader is not trusted, there is no respect.  Dishonesty weakens relationships, and there is also a negative impact on the organization.  Being honest not only means being truthful, but it also means being open.  

 

Respect

     Respect means a leader listens, is empathic, and has concern for employees.  Respect from a leader show employees that they are treated as worthy individuals.  One feels respected when there beliefs, attitudes, and values are acknowledged.  The relation of one person to another is the awareness of a presence, the I-Thou meeting (Kritsonis, 2007).  Personal relationships are achieved in what presently is.  Obligation pertains to the result of what is on the basis of an ideal.

     We have a duty to treat others with respect.  Leaders who respect others are usually respected in return.  Respect is important and it should be valued.  Seldom does one think about what it means to respect an individual or what it means to be respected.  To respect someone means looking at the individual in a distinguished manner.  Self-respect leads to respecting others.  If one does not respect himself or herself, then one is likely not to respect other individuals.  Typically if there is no respect for an individual, then their views and opinions are disregarded. 

Respect cannot be learned, purchased, or acquired.  It can only be earned. 

 

 

Knowledge of Sexual Harassment

 

     Sex and family relations is an area of primary ethical interest.  Kritsonis (2007) believes that the family is the elemental social institution in which persons are born and nurtured, and it is essential that the relation between the sexes and among the members of the family be considered carefully and ordered wisely.  It is necessary to have moral codes dealing with this issue.  Leaders should not only know the policies for their particular district, but they should be strictly enforced.  The following are examples regarding sexual harassment policies in an educational organization.  

 

Sexual Harassment and Abuse

·        Students and employees should be treated honorably.

·        Sexual advances, remarks, or conduct at not permissible.

·        Employees who sexually abuse or harass students or employees will face disciplinary action.

·        Students who sexually abuse or harass employees will face disciplinary action.

 

Sexual Harassment by Employees

·        Employees who engage in any sexually oriented conversation, activities, or other sexual conduct with students or employees is considered to be committing sexual harassment of the student or employee.

·        Employees are prohibited from dating students.

 

Sexual Harassment by Students

·     ?
?  Student should not engage in conduct that sexually harasses employees or other students.

·        Romantic relationships between student and employees with parental consent are discouraged.

 

 

 

Sexual Abuse of Students

·        Sexual abuse includes fondling, sexual assault, and sexual intercourse.

·        Sexual abuse by employees will result in termination and legal action.

 

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Awareness

     Leaders are not the principle source of moral guidance.  According to Kritsonis (2007), the most significant source of such influences are the laws and customs of society.  There are some standards of conduct that are taken for granted.  It is not always right to be obedient to laws or customs.  Social standards that are accepted are meant to provide guidance for conduct.

     School activities should promote healthy ideals for the students.  Employees should serve as role models for their colleagues and the students.  Drug and alcohol abusers are frequently absent, less productive, and can cause possible harm to themselves or others.  Substance abusers have a negative influence on others.

Social Relationships

 

     Kritsonis (2007) believes that every culture has its distinctive expectations and regulations about what is right and wrong in these relationships.  Matters in relationships within class, ethnic, racial, religious, and vocational groups should be valued by leaders.  Leaders should

focus on the improvement of religious concerns as well as race related issues in public school. Displaying knowledge and sensitivity to these issues will impact individuals in the educational organization.

     Principals should know the state laws regarding prayer and other religious activities in public schools.  If the laws are not implemented, there could possibly be lawsuits that would affect the school district.  Leaders should acknowledge and respect the religious beliefs of others in planning school activities.  Students and staff should not feel pressured in taking part in holiday events or programs that are not a part of their religious beliefs. 

      Leaders should also acknowledge race related issues as they arise.  Culture diversity training should be planned for staff members each year.  It is important for everyone in the organization to have knowledge of the diverse ethnic population that is a part of their environment.  Race, ethnicity, and cultural background have played a role in ethical theory. 

     Ethical leaders take into consideration the purpose of individuals involved.  There should be a common goal for the organization.  Leaders should focus on their specific individual goals as well as the goals for the organization. 

 

 

Concluding Remarks

 

     In conclusion, in a school district, teachers, administrators, staff, and school board members should understand the importance of ethical conduct in the educational arena.  An effective educational environment entails the need of individuals maintaining integrity and high morals.  Employees of a school district should serve with honor.  Individuals should strive to help students reach their potential to be socially and responsible citizens.  School district employees should understand the importance of upholding ethical values.  The supportiveness, safety, and security of all environments are crucial in the learning environment.  Leaders are the key players in improving ethical conduct in the educational organization.    Using the ten recommendations that were given in the essay:   knowledge of ethical theory, character development, integrity, responsibility, trust, honesty, respect, knowledge of sexual harassment, drug and alcohol abuse awareness, and social relationships will not only strengthen the leader, but it will create an effective learning environment.  

    

References

Estrada, A. (2006).  The crossroads:  confronting ethical dilemmas within the school setting.

     Journal of Education Policy. Retrieved October 1, 2006, from

     http://jep.csus.edu/journal2006/paper1.htm

  

Haskins, W. A.  (2000).  Ethos and pedagogical communication:  suggestions for enhancing

     credibility in the classroom.  Current Issues in Education, Retrieved October 1, 2006, from

     http://cie.ed.asu.edu/volume3/number4/index.html

Holloway, J. (2006).  Model behavior.  Principal Leadership, 6(5), 44-48.

Hoy, W. K. and Miskel, C. G. (2005).  Educational administration.   New York: 

     McGraw Hill. 

Kritsonis, W.A. (2007).  Ways of knowing through the realms of meaning.  Houston, TX:  National Forum Press.

Sherman, A.J.  (2005).  Schools for scandal.  New England Review, 26(3), 82-91.

Work Ethics, My Foot ! – Spirituality Information

Vishwriter asked:

People talk about work ethics. Today i had an interesting gentlemen visit me at my office. He was fuming. He was a very religious person and he was annoyed of the fact that a charming girl in her twenty’s wearing tight jeans was reading the sacred book of Bhagavad Gita in the same bus in which he traveled . “How can she touch this book of Ramayana wearing tight jeans and T-shirt….” he roared…

I admired this gentlemen for all the work he was doing but i was surprised at his timidness when it came to spiritual issues. How does the attire make a difference, after all spirituality means moving over the body and mind?. He was in no mood to listen to me…. However, the next few minutes he told me something which shook me up….

“Most of the office goers,businessmen and teenagers drink beer,have wine,and revel in their own way after office hours.. No one in this world has any problem with that. But if tomorrow the same people drink beer,have wine during office meetings, during the normal business hours would the companies allow this? Companies would say there are work ethics which need to be followed. You can do all those after business hours but not inside the office premises would be the answer of any organisation……

Show me any college or management institute which allows drinking beer or wine inside their premises. It is against the ethics of learning…

So when it comes to learning spirituality which is superior to any educational institute in the world , which is far greater than all those work ethics there are certain rules to be followed. One of the important things we need to learn here is to differentiate between Rules and Laws.

Rules are set by individuals themselves. They facilitate personal growth and so we willingly accept it. Laws are set by organisations and governments. They exist to supress your animal instincts and to foster the speedy growth of an organisation,community or country. It has got little to do with your inner growth… In the world of spirituality rules exist and in the external world laws apply…

Fences must be put around young plants or the cattle will destroy them. But when these same plants have become great trees, elephants by the score can be chained to their trunks,without fear of harming them.. So also when a child is taking his/her baby steps towards spirituality there exists a dress code, a posture and an enivornment….You need to get your basics right when you are crawling. Once you are up and running dress codes,posture and environment does not matter but till such time that you have not become a spiritual giant you cannot afford to be complacent about all these things….

I am delighted that she picked up the sacred book but i would be thrilled if she followed those basic rules.. Glory be on to that charming girl and to everyone else in this world for it is the spirit that rules, it is the spirit that lives and it is the spirit that breathes in every being in this world …. “

The gentlemen who visited me in my office was my own Higher self. He was not a person, he was my spiritual friend and mentor residing right within me…However, he visits me only when i invite Him………. When are you going to send your formal invitation to your Higher Self, my dear friend? Get yourself spiritually intoxicated this moment… Invite your spiritual friend for breakfast today…..

Ethical Insurance

Firoj Khan asked:

Islamic finance places strong emphasis on the economical, ethical, moral, social, and religious dimensions, to enhance equality and fairness for the good of society as a whole, whereas the conventional financial system focuses primarily on the economic and financial aspects of transactions. As a result Islamic insurance might also be seen as an ethical insurance.

Islamic insurance is provided under a principle called Takaful. The term “Takaful” is derived from the Arabic word “Kafaala” meaning guaranteeing. Takaful means “guaranteeing each other” and refers to the concept of permissible Islamic insurance or “Halal” insurance.

Islamic insurance or Takaful is based on the principles of “Ta’awun” (mutual cooperation) and “Tabaru’a” (Donation) whereby a group of people (Takaful participants or policyholders) agree between themselves to share the risk of a potential loss to any of them by making a donation, of all or part of their contribution, which is used to compensate the loss suffered by any participant of the Takaful scheme. Unlike conventional insurance in which risk is shifted from the policyholder to the insurance company, Takaful is a structure in which risk is shared between all the policyholders.

Additionally Islamic insurance can also be seen as an ethical insurance product because of the additional levels of governance required to ensure it is Halal.

Islamic finance principles have been derived from the Holy “Qur’an” (the Holy book of the Muslims), “Hadith” (the sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH), “Sunnah” (the way the Holy Prophet Muhammad led His life) and centuries of scholarly interpretations of these three sources. These rules define clearly what is “Halal” (permissible) and what is “Haram” (prohibited) in a financial transaction. The salient points of these rules are:

Shariah prohibits the following:

‘Riba’ – interest/usury

‘Maysir’ or ‘Qimar’ – gambling/speculation

 

‘Gharar’ – uncertainty

 

Exploitation

 

Unfairness

 

Undertaking Haram activities (alcohol, pork, pornography etc)

 

Shariah requires:

 

Risk sharing

 

Reward sharing

 

Fairness

 

Transparency

 

Sanctity of contracts

 

Strict adherence to these principles means that Islamic insurance products can also be a viable alternative for the growing number of ethically-motivated consumers who wish to buy an ethical insurance product.

The Facts About Ethical Search Engine Optimization

Meenakshi Wali asked:

The search engine optimization techniques that are supported by the search engines are known as the ethical ways of SEO whereas the rest are under rated as unethical techniques that are not approved by the search engines. Most web masters blindly believe on the so-called ethical search engine optimization techniques and follow them religiously. But the matter of concern here is to know if these so called Ethical SEO techniques are truly Ethical and Effective or not.

In simple terms, the methods that most self proclaimed search engines accept are stated as the Ethical search techniques where as the rest are declared unethical by these search engines. One of the criteria of following ethical search engine optimization states that SEO can be performed only on the genuine content pages of the website, and it is unethical to create new pages.

The ethical search engine optimization also states a few categories of these content pages ethical whereas the others unethical. For example pages that have hidden text in their web pages are considered to be unethical where as providing alt. text to the images is not considered wrong. Such criteria are set only on the convenience of these so called ethical search engines to read through the websites.

The web masters that follow these so called ‘right’ search engine optimization methods do nothing but blindly follow the wishes of the search engines with the aim of getting listed on them faster than the others. But if they are asked to defend or comment on the difference between the ethical and the unethical, they unfortunately are not able to comment on it because they do not really know the difference. That is because there isn’t any broad difference either. The techniques that are rudely being called unethical cannot in any form be classified as unethical in their literal sense.

As a matter of fact no idea of search engine optimization can be called wrong. It only depends on the fact what suits for which website. If a particular service is suitable to a certain website and is also reflecting effective results in the search engines, then they are ethical whereas the others are classified as unethical.

Entrepreneurship With Ethics

Thanaseelan asked:

Why is it important to establish the moral status of entrepreneurship? Unless it can be shown that the entrepreneur does what is morally worthwhile as an entrepreneur, that his role is ethically praiseworthy, not only his or her status in the market but the market itself becomes vulnerable to serious moral criticism. This is because it is well recognised that ethics are the free market’s life line. Many economists are beginning to realise this. Indeed, it is entrepreneurial activity that makes the best sense of profit – another vital part of capitalism.

However, without also demonstrating that entrepreneurship is ethical, the market would at most be hospitable to morally indifferent kinds of behavior; at worst it would encourage moral callousness and discourage the pursuit of presumably morally more significant objectives, such as order, self-restraint, artistic excellence, family values.

When a system is vulnerable in one of its essential ingredients, competing systems that lack this weakness become very powerful if not immediately successful alternatives. Their images improve, even if their actual performance leaves a lot to be desired.

Some argue that all we need is the hospitable environment, but this is false. Even in the freest of societies many, many potential market agents can be lazy. Not that laziness is encouraged but that it is clearly not foreclosed. That is partly what freedom means. One has a genuine choice whether to be productive or not. It is not enough to show that under capitalism human beings are free, unless the kind of uses to which such a system puts human effort can themselves be

morally worthwhile. So the question needs to be addressed. Why should one be productive? Why should entrepreneurship be practiced? What is good about it?

It is not enough by a long shot to answer that entrepreneurship is the ticket to a decent chance for wealth. Certainly one can agree that between stealing and producing, the latter is more honorable. However what if quietism – the form of religious mysticism that involves complete extinction of the human will, drawing away from worldly things – is proposed as an alternative?

How about asceticism – the religious ideal that one can reach a higher spiritual state by self-discipline and self-denial? How will the system that is hospitable to entrepreneurship be defended in the light of such powerful challenges?

The most serious challenges to capitalism come from those who contend that by making entrepreneurial effort possible – by protecting the rights to private property and the pursuit of happiness here on earth – this system corrupts human life. It tends to permit the commercialisation of human relationships, making us self-interested economic agents instead of what we really ought be, altruistic members of our community.

It is insufficient to reply that the capitalist system makes it possible for people to attain a better life here on earth. That is just what is in need of defense. Why should we strive for such a life in the first place?

In a society of just human relationships, there must be a consistent and constant hospitality to entrepreneurship because without this, an important moral dimension of human life would be suppressed or at least seriously distorted. Without such a welcome, public policy and law would yield to more widely accepted but sadly misguided moral sentiments, for example, the call for

greater and greater state power to regiment or re-engineer society instead of making it safe for natural human initiative.