Ethics MattersPersonal and Social Ethics That Matter
The Art of EthicsJuly and August: How do arts enrich our understanding of ethics, even our motivation to be ethical? We’ll explore music, poetry, and other art forms as they add to our ethical toolbox.
ExpectationSeptember: The practice of examining our assumptions and what we trust.
Our expectations influence what happens in our relationships and the world. Expectations help to shape our actions. How do our expectations motivate us? When do they limit us? How do we shape our expectations and the expectations of others?
BelongingOctober: The practice of finding home and being home for others, of being part of something larger than our self.
A basic human need is the need to belong, to be part of a group, part of something bigger than just one’s self. When does belonging increase our power together? When does belonging turn to exclusion of those who don’t belong?
AttentionNovember: The practice of alertness, listening, and seeing, and of deliberately shifting our focus.
Where we put our attention is an ethical matter. When we look away, we are less likely to act. When we ignore other perspectives, we may act in ways that harm. When we are aware and mindful, including of the needs of others, we are more likely to “do the right thing.”
AweDecember: The practice of reverence and appreciation for the wonders we experience.
We could think of ethics as cool and reasonable action, but awe and emotion play an important part in ethical decision-making. Where do you experience awe? When does it inspire and when does it frighten?
IntegrityJanuary: The practice of bringing together what we think, what we say, and what we do, of living our values.
Integrity is a fundamental practice of ethical living. Being one’s best and most authentic self is one meaning of integrity. Another is bringing one’s thoughts, words, and actions into alignment: practicing what we preach, walking our talk. How do we strengthen our integrity in a wider culture that tolerates lying and misrepresentation?
ResilienceFebruary: The practice of flexibility and strength in responding to challenges.
“It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you take what happens to you.” How do we become more resilient, expanding our window of tolerance, without that tolerance enabling injustice and pain?
WisdomMarch: the practice of deep understanding, including examining what we have been taught.
Aristotle taught that wisdom is the virtue most likely to lead to happiness. Wisdom is more than knowledge. One way to look at wisdom: it’s what balances compassion and cognitive reason, what balances justice and mercy.
LiberationApril: The practice of freeing ourselves and others from internal and external limits.
Liberation ethics emerged out of the struggles of groups to move from suffering, exploitation, and oppression to human dignity, creativity, and worth. What are the challenges of liberation today, personally and socially? How can we be on the side of liberation? And where is the line between individual liberation and exploitation of others?
ThresholdsMay: The practice of stepping into the unknown with courage, of bravely leaving behind what no longer serves us well.
This month is usually a threshold between spring and summer. Ethical thresholds are about leaving one way of thinking, seeing, and acting and entering into another. What are some predictable ethical thresholds in our continuing growth towards honoring human dignity and worth? What is the next step in your own ethical journey?
PlayJune: The practice of spontaneity and fun, of finding joyful expression of connection.
Among our key human needs for full flourishing is the need for play, for spontaneity, for enjoyment. The “good life” includes play. When does play enhance and when does it detract from our ethical relationships, our work for justice? How does play influence ethics, and how does ethics influence our play?