I am an Ultra-Conservative, Alpha-Male, True Authentic Leader, Type "C" Personality, who is very active in my community; whether it is donating time, clothes or money for Project Concern or going to Common Council meetings and voicing my opinions. As a blogger, I intend to provide a different viewpoint "The way I see it!" on various world, national and local issues with a few helpful tips & tidbits sprinkled in.
Day 19 – Still No real response from the Mayor – We expect more & got less
As with past posts, when I defined words, I use dictionary.com unless otherwise specified.
One problem with talking about words is those parties talking must agree on the definition. Most words have multiple meanings and multiple words that mean similarly but not exactly the same things. Many words are subjective and to each person they personally mean something different.
The English language in some aspects has words that have lost the impact and meaning since we devalue and dilute the words, like when bad means bad or when bad means good. Even the temporal or timing order can change meaning in language sentences just as choosing slightly different words. Even between dictionaries, there can be slight differences. Did you ever ask yourself, “How can that be?”
A good friend of mine and I were discussing this very topic a few weeks ago. Here is what my friend had to say.
“I have read in several books and writings by C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton, they have made references to this in making a point, but I don't know if any of them have written an entire book or essay just on this topic (but if I were to guess, I bet they did) The only one I can provide a direct reference to off the top of my head was from "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. Here is the excerpt:
The word gentleman originally meant something recognizable; one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone 'a gentleman' you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact. If you said he was not 'a gentleman’, you were not insulting him, but giving information. There was no contradiction in saying that John was a liar and a gentleman; any more than there now is in saying that James is a fool and an M.A. Then there came people who said - so rightly, charitably, spiritually, sensitively, so anything but usefully - 'Ah but surely the important thing about a gentleman is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behavior? Surely, he is the true gentleman who behaves as a gentleman should? Surely in that sense Edward is far more truly a gentleman than John?’ They meant well. To be honorable and courteous and brave is of course a far better thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing.
Worse still, it is not a thing everyone will agree about. To call a man 'a gentleman' in this new, refined sense becomes, in fact, not a way of giving information about him, but a way of praising him: to deny that he is 'a gentleman' becomes simply a way of insulting him. When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker's attitude to that object. (A 'nice' meal only means a meal the speaker likes. (A gentleman, once it has been spiritualized and refined out of its old coarse, objective sense, means hardly more than a man whom the speaker likes. As a result, gentleman is now a useless word. We had many terms of approval already, so it was not needed for that use; on the other hand, if anyone (say, in a historical work) wants to use it in its old sense, he cannot do so without explanations. It has been spoiled for that purpose.
Now if once we allow people to start spiritualizing and refining, or as they might say 'deepening', the sense of the word Christian, it too will speedily become a useless word.
In the first place, Christians themselves will never be able to apply it to anyone. It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not close to the spirit of Christ. We do not see into men's hearts. We cannot judge, and are indeed forbidden to judge. It would be wicked arrogance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Christian in this refined sense. And obviously a word which we can never apply is not going to he a very useful word. As for the unbelievers, they will no doubt cheerfully use the word in the refined sense. It will become in their mouths simply a term of praise. In calling anyone a Christian, they will mean that they think him a good man. But that way of using the word will be no enrichment of the language, for we already have the word good. Meanwhile, the word Christian will have been spoiled for any really useful purpose it might have served.
One G.K. Chesterton quote - “Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable."”
For argumentative sake, here are some definitions of words I will talk about.
Ethics - a system of moral principles or the rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the conduct of the members of a profession.
Ethical - pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.
Moral – of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong
Standards - those morals, ethics, habits, etc., established by authority, custom, or an individual as acceptable or a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment
Rules – principle or regulation governing conduct, action, procedure, arrangement, etc
Laws - A set of rules or principles dealing with a specific area of a legal system
Mistake – an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.
Intent - meaning or significance
Isn’t it neat how many of those words mean similar things or reference each other, while truly never defining themselves.
We live in a world governed by standards not necessarily morals or ethics; they are not always the same thing, just as the truth and facts are not always the same thing. A house and a home can mean two different things.
In an email to me, a reader ended their sentence with “…who understands and lives by his ethics.” The major problem to that is “his ethics” is subjective.
Case point – In the West it is not morally nor a standard practice to stone someone to death, yet in the Middle East that is acceptable behavior. Who are we to put our values on to others?
Death penalty is always a good one to look at for standard and moral. Just because a state has the death penalty (standard) and carries out with a death penalty doesn’t mean it is moral or right. To me I am a supporter to the death penalty and I don’t have any ethical nor moral objections, but I don’t support abortions except in a few cases. That would seem to some as a moral paradox or an ethical conundrum, but to me it isn’t. See the subjective of morals and ethics. What needs to be the important factor is the intent.
Should our ethics preclude us from doing something wrong?
Who deems it right or wrong must first be answered. You, me, society, law. Second, the intent of the action needs to be looked at without a jump to a conclusion.
We all break the law at some point. Remember speeding just a little bit to get where you needed to go or borrowing that tape of Lost from last week to your co-worker, converting your CD’s to MP3’s is now against the law according to RIAA, or having friends over to watch that rented movie, read the fine print (only for those who live in the house hold). How about copying a CD from your best friend, to which most younger people find as morally acceptable even though it is against the law. What about going to the store and the casher gives you too much change back or do you put the cart back to the cart corral or do you just leave it in the parking lot? What about helping your children with homework, where you really did it for them or throwing your cigarette butts out the window or in the street? Is it unethical to date one of your employees? Does it change if you happily marry one of your employees? The list goes on and on.
I guess those infractions don’t matter to some, but to others it does. So you didn’t stop for the full four seconds or forgot to use your turn signal. The bible tells us we are sinners and saints!
My mom always told me “People in glass houses should not throw stones” simply put don't criticize other people when you yourself have faults and weaknesses (click there for more info). By the way, I don’t think she came up with that saying, but over time we lost who originally came up with it.
We find ourselves ignoring (ethics) even the basic ones (cheating, copying, lying, stealing, embellishing, defraud and taking advantage of someone, breaking trust and confidentiality, befriending ) for a shortcut or a quick chance to get ahead in life (right now to some I could be guilty of a moral infraction – I didn’t say that sentence the reader who emailed me did). Some mistakes are just that mistakes, some are over looked infractions with no intent to harm, and some are blatant subversions of the law.
Ethics is influx, it is more of what society deems acceptable, of course unless you might get caught and the penalty is high or unlawful. Even things against the law are open to subjection and interpretations or when the ends justify the means, which is why we have a judge and jury. We do have honest mistakes and the law and those in charge understand that!
Do we have a moral decay going on in the world, I would say yes, but you may say no. You must be faithful to who you are, (remember peer pressure) show common decency and not sway from what you feel is morally inappropriate.
Moral Considerations in Military Decision Making Of Moral Advisors for Army Leadership it is stated, “The leader must understand that to live one's ethics on a daily basis is considerably more complicated that just using the ethical reasoning process in decision-making.” This is the same people who think water-boarding is not morally wrong, to which I agree with them. The U.S. follows the ethics and standards set down by the Geneva Convention to which water-boarding was never discussed or even thought of then. Does it make it wrong or right? What is clear to me may be muddy to you.
In the end, we are human and to be human is to err. We all make mistakes; it is how we fix them and our intent that is just as important as the mistake. One must act professional even when you are not a professional but an amateur. Try and do the right thing, be honest, be the bigger person when you make a mistake, move forward to be a better person.
We all must live by a code of conduct, guiding principles to do the right thing. Just who tells us if it is right, and is it right for all? We now live in a world in the shades of grey; the time of black and white is long gone. It is unfortunate the many times the shades of grey (or gray is there a right one, does it matter) creep into the fuzzy shadows of dark where right and wrong don’t live.
Dedicated to Scott, Mike P, and the Mayor. All for different reasons!