Ethical – What Does It Mean To You?

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Recently, for some reason, the word “ethical” has been front and foremost in my mind. I think it has a lot to do with the financial crisis our world is in and how often the media uses the word to explain the behavior of companies and their leaders. By this, I mean, the unethical behavior demonstrated by so many of the companies and/or leaders.

So what does the word ethic or ethical meanIt usually has to do with with good and bad and the moral principles used to determine what’s good or bad. One of the problems I see when using the word ethic, is that good and bad seem to be relative. What I mean by that, is one person’s ethics might determine something is good where another person would classify it as bad. I think this can happen when we consider something as bad as what happened to America on 9/11. We, of course, determined that as bad where the perpetrators determined it as good. How do we determine good and bad in world with so many different sets of principles?

We have in our city of St. Louis, a church called the The Ethical Society. I have often gone to their website out of curiosity. From what I read and from the few people that I have known who attend the Ethical Society meetings, it seems to be a very good organization. No pun intended with the word “good” that I used in the previous sentence. :-)

In a recent newspaper advertisement for The Ethical Society Sunday School, there was a list of their core values. As I read them, I thought how good it would be if everyone, no matter what their belief system is, would follow them.

What are those core values, you ask?

Here they are:

  • Ethics is my religion.
  • Every person is important and unique.
  • Every person deserves to be treated fairly and kindly.
  • I can learn from everyone.
  • I am part of this earth; I cherish it and all the life upon it.
  • I learn from the world around me by using senses, mind, and feelings.
  • I am a member of the world community, which depends on the cooperation of all people for peace and justice.
  • I can learn from the past to build for the future.
  • I am free to question.
  • I am free to choose what I believe.
  • I accept responsibility for my choices and actions.
  • I strive to live my values.
I think these are directed to children between the ages 2 – 18, but aren’t they appropriate for all ages?
Would we be in the mess we are in today if leaders in business and government would follow them?
Even though I’m not a member of the Ethical Society, I think I will make a big effort to follow these principles.
What do you think?
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Analog To Digital – Human Ingenuity – Present Living

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We are changing from an analog signal to a digital signal in television.  Why?  Well, we will be able to increase the number of television signals by 100%.  The pictures will be clearer. Etc., etc……

Now, many are seeking a convertor box to change the digital signal to analog. How ironic, since recently I have been changing analog taped music to digital music so I can listen to it on my computer. Oh, well.

This whole conversion of analog to digital process that is currently taking place reminds me of going from LP records to tape. During college, I had a roommate that bought the best reel-to-reel tape machine that he could afford and proceeded to convert all of his LP record music to reel-to-reel tape.  He was convinced that all cars would have reel-to-reel tape players in them within two years.  Well, that didn’t happen but soon cars had “eight-track” players in them.  And, of course, he wasn’t able to convert his music to the eight-track tapes. He was so mad but, in time, he bought a lot of the same “eight-track” music he had converted earlier so he could listen to it in his car. Then what happened?  Along came cassette-tapes.  And, wouldn’t you know it, he could convert the LP records to cassette-tapes.  He was convinced that there was someone planning the scenario so it would cost people like him more money.

I don’t think my roommate was correct. I don’t think there is some elaborate plan to cause us to go “willy-nilly” through life spending money that is unnecessary.  I think it has to do with our point of view and human ingenuity.  Both, our point of view and human ingenuity are influenced by our capitalistic/free-enterprise system. Consider the VHS – Betamax video systems.  Some considered the betamax system superior but VHS eventually won. If we were a socialist or communist society there is, in my opinion, a good chance that betamax would have won.

Currently, on our television, we receive some of our local TV stations in both analog and digital.  The difference between them in clarity is amazing with the digital being the best, by far. But, when a digital station is “not coming in well,” in other words, there is interference, then the digital can not be understood.  The picture becomes “pixelated” and the sound becomes garbled. Whereas, the analog, when not coming in well, can still be seen, though fuzzy, and the sound is generally clear.

What’s my point?  Well, I think we should accept that, overall, we are improving our television experience and that, with the use of future human ingenuity, the digital signal and television will be even better. Let’s have faith in humanity — we will learn from the past, live in the present and make the future better.  If not that, then at least, LIVE IN THE PRESENT.  :-)

today

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Empathy And Judgement

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Do you value empathy?  What is empathy? Is empathy a strength or weakness? These questions are a few queries about what I think is an important intellectual trait or virtue.

Our president said,We seem to be suffering from an empathy deficit – our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to see the world through those who are different from us – the child who’s hungry, the laid-off steel worker, the immigrant woman cleaning your dorm room.’ – Barack Obama

Empathy – the imaginative act of stepping into another person’s shoes and viewing the world from their perspective – is a trait that many great leaders have and many poor leaders need. Roman Krznaric a teacher who runs courses on how to expand your empathetic imagination, and is the expert on Empathy at The School of Life in London, believes empathy is key to success in most human endeavors.

Empathy is different than pity or sympathy.  If you see a report on poor people and how they are suffering in today’s economy and you feel sorry for them, then you are not expressing empathy but most likely pity or sympathy.  On the other hand, if you try to “put yourself in their shoes,” if you seek understanding of how they feel, what they feel, when they feel, where they feel, etc. then I believe you are expressing empathy.

When a group of people demonstrate and chant “death to America!”it’s important for us to not be deficit in empathy. By simply saying “they hate us” and not, figuratively, putting ourselves in their shoes does nothing but build a wall between us.  Usually that wall is torn down with war.  And, in my opinion, we need to emphasize peace, not war.

So how does one develop empathy?  I think it is important to understand what the opposite of empathy is; self-centeredness.  Yes, if you want to have empathy you must strive not to be self-centered. Think of it using the following question:  How can you fairly judge others’ ideas and beliefs unless you learn how to take on the perspectives of others and to accurately think as they think?

Another point of view regarding empathy can be found by going to the Foundation Of Critical Thinking.

So, if a group of people are chanting “death to America,” we need to take on their perspectives and as accurately as possible think as they think.  THEN we can judge them!

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Discipline Is A “Good” Word

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I had an experience recently that resulted in me thinking a lot about the word “discipline.” The word is often used as a negative and I can understand why. For example, we use the word to threaten children when we say, “If you don’t behave, I will discipline you.”

Of course, in education, we group certain studies that help us to learn a particular way of thinking and call each group a discipline. An example is social science. Another example is liberal arts. Etc.

The word, discipline, is also used to describe a method or way of thinking that demonstrates the use of a set of logical principles. In using discipline in that manner we assume that the method or way of thinking in that discipline helps to reason the solution to problems. For example, we have a discipline called history. Another called mathematics. Etc.

OK, so you can see a few of the different ways of using the word discipline. As most of you probably know, the word discipline has a root word of “disciple.”

What does the word disciple mean? It means: a person who learns from another – especially one who then teaches others –  or it is an active follower or adherent of someone, or some philosophy, etc.

Why is discipline consider by so many to be a “bad” word? Think about it, if you tell someone  s/he needs more discipline, I’ll bet that person thinks you are expressing a negative instead of a positive. I believe that is the way, at least in most of America, we are “brought up”. By “brought up” I mean, “to take care of and educate.”

If I say someone, including myself, needs more discipline, it could and often times should be thought of as a positive. I think it should be like saying someone needs work on her/his upper body strength. Or that someone needs to improve her/his skill of parallel-parking an automobile.

Really, undisciplined actions that harm the ability to have a lawful democratic society must be addressed. The best group of people to impact society are the children. In the long run, teaching children that discipline is a good word and helps us all to have a better world, is essential for promoting a better society. Of course, this is just my thinking.

How can we teach a disciplined way of thinking in an undisciplined society?  All of these disciplines that we value (history, science, language arts, mathematics, etc.) require the mind to become disciplined. Do we value this way of thinking. If we do then let’s make the word a “good” word.

There, I’ve got that off of my mind.  Thanks for reading. :-)

What do you think about “discipline?”

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Why TEN Commandments?

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For those of you who are regular readers, I would like to make it clear at the beginning of this posting that I will not use religion as a subject matter very much.  How much?  Actually, very little.  How little?  Trust me, very little little.  :-)

Recently, I received an e-mail from a friend entitled  Southern Ten Commandments.  The e-mail was humorous and “got me to thinking” about why there are “TEN” commandments. As a side line on this, you may notice that Rich put these in his comment for the previous posting entitled “Religion And My Sister.”

Before I go any further I think it is appropriate to list what I think are the “regular” ten commandments.  There are many different versions (translations) but here is a list that provides a little detail.

Ten Commandments – from:  All About Truth

ONE: ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.‘ 

TWO: ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

THREE: ‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.‘ 

FOUR: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.‘ 

FIVE: ‘Honor your father and your mother.‘ 

SIX: ‘You shall not murder.‘ 

SEVEN: ‘You shall not commit adultery.‘ 

EIGHT: ‘You shall not steal.‘ 

NINE: ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.‘ 

TEN: ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

These are not necessarily good or bad but just commandments that many believe in and, I must add, don’t always adhere to.

Now, let’s list the ten commandments, “southern style” or “country style.”

Ten Commandments – Southern Style

Some people have trouble with all those ‘shall’s’ and ‘shall not’s’ in the Ten Commandments. Folks just aren’t used to talking in those terms. So, in middle Tennessee they translated the ‘King James’ into ‘ Jackson County ‘ language…..no joke (posted on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Gainesboro , TN).

(1) Just one God

(2) Put nothin’ before God

(3) Watch yer mouth

(4) Git yourself to Sunday meetin’

(5) Honor yer Ma & Pa

(6) No killin’

(7) No foolin’ around with another fellow’s gal

(8) Don’t take what ain’t yers

(9) No tellin’ tales or gossipin’

(10) Don’t be hankerin’ for yer buddy’s stuff

Now that’s plain an’ simpleY’all have a nice day!

Well, this is interesting and perhaps, funny.  Having stated that, why do we have “ten” commandments?  Wouldn’t one or maybe, two do?

The main commandment, I think, should be the golden rule of  “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Of course, you probably noticed that I mentioned the possibility of two. Well, that has to do with that tricky first commandment of “who” is God?  You might have to add the statement “I believe in one and only one God, and that God is   ?    “ , where you fill in the blank.  Now, isn’t that simple?  Think about it.  

The golden rule takes care of commandments 5 through 10. And, commandments 2 through 4 are between you and the God you believe in.  If God wants you to worship his mother then do so.  If God wants you to keep any or all days holy then do so.  Etc., etc. …  That is between you and your God.

OK, I know, this is controversial. Not to me, but perhaps, to you.  Faith and belief are difficult concepts to deal with when trying to use reasoning.

Just my thinking.  What do you think?grab-small-r21

Religion and My Sister

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God is all that we don’t know!?

I had a conversation with my sister, recently, and she said: “Ron, you should blog about religion.” At first I thought, why should I, since I have no real strong feelings for religion like she does. I know she believes in the teachings of religion (I think this is called faith for many) and the gospel is a form of truth.

Well, if anything, I am most likely agnostic. Then again, I’m not sure if I should be placed in that category anymore than to say I am a atheist or a “believer.”  I don’t believe I’m a atheist. I’m not sure I’m agnostic. Am I a believer??? What does it mean to be a believer?

I have often used the statement that; “God is all that we don’t know.” I’m not sure who to attribute that quote to. I don’t believe it’s an original, but I’m not sure. I guess it’s the same with religion — I don’t believe but I’m not sure. What does that mean???

What is God? Salman Rushdie once said that if we are to believe in God then God must “show up.”  I suppose he has a point. With all of the technology we now have, surely someone would have at least a picture of God by now.

There has been a lot of stuff  “generated” about religion.  One that comes to mind is George Carlin’s routine of Religion is Bullshit. And, routines have been done on YouTube about atheists. Religion is an important “something” in human life. What is it?

Literally, what is IT? I’m not asking about Information Technology.  I’m asking about this seemingly deep drive that humans have to be “spiritual.”

Spiritualness and/or religion seem to me to be at the center of most wars, political beliefs, families, etc..  Is what’s at the center important?

So many questions. For every answer there seems to be two new questions. There is sort of a “thought” mitosis going on in my mind.  Yikes!

What do you think?

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Love And Time Poem?

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Love And Time

Love is a quality

Time is a quantity

Love is a qualitative piece of eternity

Time is a quantitative piece of eternity

Should love be timed?

Should time be loved?

I’m thinking there is a connection between love and time.  The “poem” above gives you an idea of what I mean.  I put the word “poem” in quotes to emphasize that I’m not comfortable in declaring that it is a poem.  Verbiage, statements, rambling, etc. might be better descriptions, but for now, I think I will call it poetry.

Now let’s dive deeper into love and time.  There is a short story entitled “Love And Time” that shows how love and other feelings we humans have can be metaphorically viewed. The last line declares that only time is capable of understanding how valuable love is.  How true.

From my point of view, being a person who is beyond mature, time truly has given me the understanding of how valuable love is.  As a child, I saw love as a “feel-good” emotion.  I now see love as an emotion that I only understand with the passing of time AND that for love to be true it must be tested with time.

Perhaps Laura Nyro said it best in her song Time And Love .  She sang that “nothing cures like time and love.”  If it takes time to have true love and love is, at least in my opinion, a good and “curing” emotion, then indeed, I have the answers to my questions.

Should love be timed?  YES!

Should time be loved?  YES!

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The Art of Tim Smith

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Tim Smith, a friend of mine, is an artist.  I write and say this because I think/know he is an artist. What’s an artist?  One definition that I saw recently is: an artist is a person whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination. Well, yes, but aren’t sensitivity and imagination relative?  Oh, who cares, Tim is an artist.

I have helped him set up a website so he could show some of his work. Because of my work on the site, I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time looking at the pictures he put on the site. They show some of his work or better put, his artistic demonstrations.

Below is a picture of a caricature he drew with the model holding it. I was showing this to a person recently and he immediately said, “that is very good.”  I asked why and he said, “the caricature is so interesting – interesting and appealing.”  I agree.  And, I think he shows great sensitivity in his work.  To see more go to Tim’s Caricatures.

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Another element that I admire about Tim’s art is his use of imagination.  Below is a picture of his “cube chairs.”  You can see and read more about them by clicking on CHAIRS.

4-images-of-cube-chairIf the definition of an artist is a person whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination then Tim is an artist.

One more example of the artistic work that Tim does is near and dear to me.  A year ago I asked Tim to sketch a picture of my grand-daughter.  He did the following sketch from a picture that I gave him.  What sensitivity!

The picture on the left is what he worked from and the one on the right is a scan of the finished product. I can’t emphasize enough that the scanned picture on the right, of his portrait, does not do it justice.

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You can get a little more about art from Tim’s point of view by reading his comment on R2.

What is an artist?  What do you think?

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The Obama Effect!

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We now have a new president.  Barack Obama is our 44th president and a “breath of fresh air.” The election of Obama reminds me of when Bill Clinton was elected to his first term.  I had such high hopes for our country and for the most part, they were realized.  We, as a country, were better off financially and better off morally.  By morally, I mean our moral standing in the world.

So much has changed since 2000.  After 9/11 we had the out-pouring of good will from throughout the world.  We took that good will and over the past seven years, shoved it down the world’s throat.  Ouch!

So what is this “Obama Effect?”  I’m not referring to the Bradley Effect/Obama Effect that was discussed last Fall by many in the media.  I think it is this feeling of hope and pride that many of us are feeling.  Hope that at last we have a leader that will do what he thinks is right for the country AND realizes that the country is all of us – not just the ones who gave him political capital.  This political capital thing is interesting. I must admit that I had never heard of it until 2004 when George W. Bush used it in a speech.

So, again, what is the Obama Effect?  It is the sense of country that we now have.  It is the feeling of optimism that we now have. It is the patriotism that we now know is justified.  It is the pride in country we now know is warranted.  It is ………………THE OBAMA EFFECT!

I would love for you to comment with your feelings and/or thoughts.

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Weather And Chaos

chaosscatterthumbChaotic Scattering

“Whenever two or more people are gathered together, one thing for sure, they’ll talk about the weather.”

The above quote is one that I have used for many years. I’m unsure if I heard it and then repeated it, or if I actually created it.  I really don’t know, but it has become a part of my “speech.”  When two or more people are together, no matter what the relationship – strangers, family, colleagues, passengers, etc. – there invariably seems to be a few statements made about the weather.

Some say the weather is a subject that everyone has in common.  None of us have control over it so therefore we can all talk about it without having to take any ownership for the weather event.  Yes, I suppose there is a lot of truth in that point of view.

But, what is it about the weather?   What is it about volcanic eruptions?  About all of the happenings that we call “mother nature” or chaotic, unpredictable events.  I have in the past studied nonlinear dynamical systems.  In general, Chaos Theory.  So?????

Well, one of the statements I have retained from that study is, “there is order in chaos and chaos in order.”  So for example, the weather is a nonlinear dynamical system.  Can we predict the weather?  Yes and no.  What does that mean?

The date that I am writing this sentence is 1/15/09 and I’m in St. Louis, Missouri.  I can predict that tomorrow will not be a hot day outside.  I can predict that the maximum temperature will not be above 70 degrees.  I know that if by some freakish accident the temperature does reach 70 degrees tomorrow that there is no way for it to remain that way.  There is a “strange attraction” for the temperature to be cold in the winter and warm in the summer.  That is one example of the order in the chaos of weather.

And, the chaos in order?  Well, consider the effects of a hurricane on the weather in its path.  During the summer or fall here in the US, we can have a storm such as a hurricane change our weather from an “orderly day” to a chaotic mess.  Chaos within order.  Poor examples, perhaps, but still I hope you get the point.  We love and generally need to have something in common that no one is responsible for in order to start a conversation, especially with a stranger.

“Sure is cold out today.”  “Are you keeping warm?”  “Do you think it’s going to rain today?”  “Has it started to rain yet?”  “Did you bring this hot weather with you?” All typical statements used by us to “break the ice.”  (no pun intended:-)

Look at how the weather is handled in our media.  We have a lot of time and effort expended toward predicting the outcome of this chaotic system known has “weather.” Yet, no matter how much we try, we cannot predict with 100% accuracy.  But, we can sure talk about it!

Whenever two or more people are gathered together, they can and often will talk about the weather.  :-)

What do you think?

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