Open to the Spirit

Today’s word: Ethics

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL NEWS -

smaller due to world travel? Or that our knowl­edge of one an­other and our nat­u­ral world is in­creas­ing as so­ci­ol­ogy, bi­ol­ogy, chem­istry and all the other sciences ad­vances our un­der­stand­ing?

As we grow in re­spect for one an­other and re­spect for our nat­u­ral world, we rise to a higher level of eth­i­cal be­hav­iour and we be­come more aware of our im­pact on one an­other. We can­not con­tinue to bully, abuse and en­slave our way across the planet in or­der to en­rich and em­power our­selves. Ethics can help us be­come bet­ter peo­ple. Let us hope it hap­pens be­fore we auto-de­struct. num­ber”. Some­thing that emerged in the 60’s was “Sit­u­a­tion Ethics”. It scared me a bit then, and even more so now. Ly­ing, if it leads to per­sonal ben­e­fits, seems to be ac­cept­able now, and even ex­pected.

I grew be­liev­ing in hon­esty. I was also naive enough to be­lieve most peo­ple op­er­ated by the same eth­i­cal prin­ci­ples. Some­thing hap­pened to me a num­ber of years ago to make me re­al­ize this wasn’t so. We had a fire in the manse I was liv­ing in with my fam­ily. The roof was dam­aged, some parts of the in­te­rior, and of course the smoke left marks. We were in­sured, so we put to­gether a list of the items that were dam­aged and submitted them to the in­surance com­pany. That’s when the dif­fi­cul­ties came. Our ad­jus­tor chal­lenged so many things we claimed were dam­aged, and wanted to re­duce the amount the com­pany owed by about half. We took pic­tures to show him but he was stub­born. Fi­nally we went over his head to the com­pany and re­ceived money for most of what we lost in the fire. Peo­ple ex­plained to us that this was how the sys­tem worked, be­cause most claimants tried to cheat the in­surance com­pany by claim­ing much more than the real loss. Ad­jus­tors cut the claims in half and all worked out. The only prob­lem, ap­par­ently, was the few peo­ple like me, who only submitted an hon­est claim.

I don’t want to live in a so­ci­ety where val­ues have been aban­doned. We need to hold our lead­ers ac­count­able for ly­ing and de­ceit. We also need to live our lives in in­tegrity, and grow those val­ues in the com­mu­ni­ties we live in. Ethics mat­ter.

) Ac­cord­ing to tra­di­tion, the To­rah gives us 613 mitzvot, 613 com­mand­ments that we must fol­low. Some of the laws are clear in their rea­son­ing: don’t steal, re­turn lost ob­jects, don’t waste, along with those clas­sics, honor your fa­ther and mother and don’t covet. You would think it would be enough of a life’s work to spend each day be­ing fo­cused on try­ing to do our best to fol­low ev­ery law. Each day we can check off our lists what we have done right and where we could work harder. Fol­low the laws, and we’re good!

But we know re­al­ity is not so easy. Each day we are con­fronted with chal­lenges, with re­la­tion­ships and sit­u­a­tions which sim­ply don’t fit per­fectly into any box. We can’t al­ways look at a con­ver­sa­tion or a dif­fi­cult predica­ment, look it up in a book and do what we are told. We are in­stead told to fol­low also the words of Deuteron­omy 6:18: “Do what is right and good in the eyes of God…” to use our judg­ment, and to train our­selves to live, walk and speak with com­pas­sion to the point that ev­ery­thing will come nat­u­rally. This is ethics at its best.

We can’t pre­dict what each mo­ment will bring. Th­ese few months have made that loud and clear. What we can know is that we have the re­sources, not just in the holy books, but in our own hearts to do what is right. Trust your­self, sup­port each other and if we stay strong, all will work out in the end.

) When I was young my par­ents were very con­cerned with teach­ing us life lessons. We were en­cour­aged to have good ethics, though that par­tic­u­lar word wasn’t used. Hon­esty was im­por­tant, as was ser­vice to oth­ers and un­selfish­ness. I re­mem­ber one day in Mon­treal when there was no one in the Metro booth to gave me change or a to­ken so I jumped the bar­rier are made my trip. Later that day I went back to the same spot and tried to pay for my morn­ing ride. The at­ten­dant was to­tally con­fused. She wasn’t used to such hon­esty. She didn’t un­der­stand why I wanted to give her money and not get a ticket. For me though, ethics were im­por­tant.

My fa­ther was also pas­sion­ate about pol­i­tics and our re­spon­si­bil­ity to vote, per­haps be­cause his grand­fa­ther was a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment in Ot­tawa for 10 years. We some­times dis­agreed on is­sues and had vig­or­ous din­ner ta­ble dis­cus­sions.

He made made a point of never telling us how he and Mom voted, once we were old enough to vote our­selves, so as not to in­flu­ence our choice. Truth be told, we could usu­ally fig­ure his choice out. He was not so con­cerned with which po­lit­i­cal party a can­di­date rep­re­sented, but he did care deeply about their char­ac­ter.

I’m sure if my fa­ther was watch­ing the po­lit­i­cal land­scape today, es­pe­cially south of the bor­der, he would be turn­ing over in his grave. Ly­ing, de­ceit, name call­ing and ma­nip­u­la­tion have be­come com­mon­place. Truth falls vic­tim to “al­ter­nate facts”. Trust­wor­thi­ness seems not to mat­ter any­more. Brag­gado­cio, pom­pos­ity and in­sults have won the day. A per­son’s in­tegrity seems not to mat­ter any­more. Per­haps it’s time to re­turn to the days when hon­esty un­selfish­ness, and ser­vice to oth­ers are ev­ery­day val­ues. Ethics mat­ter.

One word, four voices ~ and as al­ways now it’s your turn: How do ethics play a part in your life de­ci­sions?

Rev. Mead Bald­win pas­tors the Water­ville & North Hat­ley pas­toral charge; Rabbi Boris Dolin leads the Dor­shei-emet com­munity in Mon­treal; Rev. Lee Ann Hogle min­is­ters to the Ayer’s Cliff, Ma­gog & Ge­orgeville United Churches; Rev. Ca­role Mar­tig­nacco, Uni­tar­ian Uni­ver­sal­ist is re­tired from min­istry with Uuestrie and now re­sides in St. An­drews by-the-sea NB, but keeps one foot in the Town­ships by con­tin­u­ing with this col­umn.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.