Why Everybody Hates Ethics

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I told my husband that I was really surprised that more people read my blog on statistics than the Spirit Lake blogs. He said,


"I'm not surprised. As soon as you said the word 'ethics', I thought I wouldn't want to read it. Everybody hates those discussions about ethics."


Since YOU are reading it, it's obviously not everybody, but I think he is right in that a whole lot of people hate talking about ethics, even more than who hate statistics. And as someone who was statistics professor for twenty years, I can tell you, that's saying something.


WHY does everybody hate ethics? Partly, the same reason so many people hate math, it was just taught to them poorly. I'll be the first to admit that when we were looking for material for the ethics courses I read a whole lot of books and articles that   - well, let me just say that if it was possible for my brain to crawl out of my head to escape the boredom, you would have heard a big SPLAT from the sound of my grey matter hitting the floor.


Somehow, ethics has been captured by philosophers and business professors who write articles on whether a corporation is a person and the Universalist versus the Cultural Relativist - except they use way more words and make it even more boring than that sounds (hard to believe, I know).


The truth is that ethics is EXTREMELY important to being a good person living a good life in a good society.  You don't need to have long discussions about what is right - Lying on your time card, taking billions in federal bailout money and then paying yourself a $10 million dollar bonus, playing Internet bingo for hours instead of doing your job, hiring someone unqualified because he or she voted with you or slept with you - those things are unethical. I'm surprised I have to explain this to you.


When we are honest about the ethical problems and quit hide behind boring articles with their six-syllable words, then there is an expectation that maybe we should live a certain way.


A priest once gave the best definition I ever heard of ethics from a religious perspective. He said, 


"God's love is a challenge to us."


So, there it is. When we look ethical questions straight in the face in plain language, there is a demand that we DO something. We can't blame our problems on lack of training, a change in policy or procedure. What has to change is our CHARACTER. Our willingness to make the hard choices, do the right thing, even when it is hard, keep our word, even when it is inconvenient. What needs to change to make us better people living a better life in a better society is - us.




No wonder everybody hates ethics.

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