Category Archives: Ethics

You Will Not Find Me On Facebook

I have no Facebook account.

I will never have a Facebook account.

For years I’ve inveighed against what I sincerely believe to be the blatant immorality of Facebook’s business practices, which, true to capitalism’s two primary goals, seem to be:


Make as much money as you can, any way you can.

Grow as big as you can, any way you can.

Custom, tradition, ethics, law, morality, authority of government, common decency, the health of local or of global environment, or any other considerations are, as far as possible, to be disregarded or neutralized as restraints on the monomaniacal pursuit of maximum profit and of maximum growth for growth’s sake.


Facebook thrives on attention.

In general, the larger the audience the more effective the advertisement, which justifies charging high advertising fees.

So…how to generate a large audience?

So simple…let anybody post damn near anything, especially negative things, because negativity has been proven to draw larger attention than positivity.

This practice damages political processes, social cohesion, and the psychological health of large swaths of the human community.

These consequences are, I believe, acceptable to Facebook so long as it profits.

I sincerely believe Facebook to be a poisonous presence on planet Earth.

There are others who have concerns about Facebook’s impact on our quality of life.

Please see below.


First, a link to a recent Vox article.

https://www.vox.com/recode/22677911/facebook-scandal-research-teen-mental-health

Next, an article recently published by politico.

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/09/21/facebook-paid-billions-extra-to-the-ftc-to-spare-zuckerberg-in-data-suit-shareholders-allege-513456

Finally, a document published in 2019 by MIT Technology Review, and republished recently by Pocket.


Click to access oct-2019-facebook-troll-farms-report.pdf

 

A Trip Down Memory Lane

In early childhood I once fell in with naughty little boys behaving in naughty little ways, with no great evil resulting from our juvenile pranks.

Nevertheless my mother could see that first steps had been taken on a road that could in future lead to more seriously negative results.

She admonished me gently, noting that although it might seem easier to do wrong than to do right, always choosing the hard-seeming right over the easy-seeming wrong was the best way to live.

“Why, Mommy?”

In essence she replied that although I was too young to understand, she wanted me to trust her, and always to choose the hard-seeming right over the easy-seeming wrong.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered years later that no less a luminary than Maimonides, (1135-1204, Spain),¹ wrote in a way that closely harmonizes with my mother’s admonition:

¹ “Prefer the truth and right by which you seem to lose,

  to the falsehood and wrong by which you seem to gain.”


For your wisdom, Mother, across the grave, respectfully, I thank you.

 

Living the Indian Way

With the exception of certain documentaries its fair to say that Hollywood productions are unreliable sources of accurate information about almost anything, particularly indigenous cultures found anywhere in the world.

Having for years been steeped in Hollywood representations of American Indians, imagine my surprise when, as a young adult, I discovered writings by highly literate, acutely perceptive Native Americans, describing their histories, cultures, traditions, religious beliefs, and more.

Cultural differences notwithstanding, it seems that at one point in recent time, an inter-tribal council of elders agreed upon a code of ethics suitable for Native Americans of whatever tribe. ¹

The main points are presented below—


1- Each morning upon arising, and each evening before sleeping, give thanks for the life within you, and for all life and for the good things the Creator has given you and others, and for the opportunity to grow a little more each day.

Consider your thoughts and actions of the past day and seek for the courage and strength to be a better person. 

Seek for the things that will benefit everyone.

2- Respect—Respect means ‘to feel or show honor or esteem for someone or something with deference or courtesy.’  Showing respect is basic law of life.

  • Treat every person, from the tiniest child to the eldest elder with respect at all times.
  • Special respect should be given to elders, parents, teachers, and community leaders.
  • No person should be made to feel ‘put down’ by you; avoid hurting others as you would avoid a deadly poison.
  • Touch nothing that belongs to someone else (especially sacred objects) without permission, or an understanding between you.
  • Respect the privacy of every person.  Never intrude on a person’s quiet moments or personal space.
  • Never walk between people that are conversing; nor do you interrupt people who are conversing.
  • Speak in a soft voice, especially when you are in the presence of elders, strangers, or others to whom special respect is due.
  • Do not speak unless invited to do so at gatherings where elders are present (except to ask what is expected of you, should you be in doubt).
  • Never speak about others in a negative way, whether they are present or not.
  • Treat the Earth and all her aspects as your mother.  Show deep respect for the mineral world, the plant world, and the animal world.  Do nothing to pollute the air, the water or the soil.  If others would destroy our mother, rise with wisdom to defend her. ♠
  • Show deep respect for the beliefs and religions of others.
  • Listen with courtesy to what others say, even if you feel that what they are saying is worthless.  Listen with your heart.

3 – Respect the wisdom of the people in council.  Once you give an idea to a council or a meeting, it no longer belongs to you.  It belongs to the people.  Respect demands that you listen intently to the ideas of others in council and that you do not insist that your idea prevail.  Indeed, you should freely support the ideas of others if they are true and good, even if  they are quite different from the ones you have contributed.  The clash of ideas brings forth the spark of truth.

  • Once a council has decided something in unity, respect demands that no one speak secretly against what has been decided.  If the council has made an error, that error will become apparent to everyone in its own time.

4 – Be truthful at all times, and under all conditions.

5 – Always treat your guest with honor and consideration.  Give of our best food, your best blankets, the best of your house, and your best service to your guests.

6 – The hurt of one is the hurt of all; the honor of one is the honor of all. ♠

7 – Receive strangers and outsiders with a loving heart and as members of the human family. ♠

8 – All the races and tribes of the world are like the different colored flowers of a field.  All are beautiful.  As children of the Creator, they must all be respected. ♠

9 – To serve others, to be of some use to family, community, nation, or the world, is one of the main purposes for which human beings have been created.  Do not fill yourself with your own affairs, and forget your most important task.  True happiness comes only to those who dedicate their lives to the service of others. ♠

10 – Observe moderation and balance in all things.

11 – Know those things that lead to your well being, and those things that lead to your destruction.

12 – Listen to and follow the guidance given to you your heart.  Expect guidance to come in many forms: in prayer, in dreams, in times of quiet solitude, and in the words and deeds of wise elders and friends.

Not bad for supposedly ignorant savages !


♠ The following Shinto saying dating from 6th century Japan hints at a similarity of world view across ancient cultures:

“Regard Heaven as your Father, Earth as your mother,

all things as your brothers and sisters,

and you will enjoy the divine country that excels all others.”

It seems also to hint at harmony with a finding of quantum physics—that everything is interconnected—that everything affects everything else.


¹ Sacred Tree – Reflections on Native American Spirituality, ISBN 0-941524-58-2, is the source of the code of ethics.

 


Disclosure statements: 

I am not a Native American.

I have no financial interest in any publication cited anywhere on my blog.

Concerning Integrity

Commonly, integrity refers to someone’s honesty—to the fact that his or her word can be trusted.

Integrity can also signify that a person’s values and life style form an integrated, harmonious whole.

No conflicts.

No inconsistencies / conflicts among beliefs, work, diet, politics, relationships, use of money / free time, goals selected and pursued, any part of life.

For most of us, this is a tall order, requiring persistent self-examination, self-correction.


Regarding the above…

“Patience obtains all things..”—Ancient Egyptian wisdom

“There is no defeat so long as there is effort.”—Eastern wisdom, specific source forgotten.

“Excellence is not a gift given, but a skill perfected.  The key is self-discipline.”—Motivational poster seen in a variety store.

“Do you have yourself in your own power? Than truly you are more powerful than the one who conquers a city.”—Source unknown

A common definition of courage—aggressive self-assertion.

An uncommon definition of courage—absolute self-control.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”—Mahatma Gandhi

A Book Review

In 2017, Thich Naht Hanh, an internationally known Zen teacher, published a little gem of a booklet titled How To Fight. ¹ 

A Buddhist monk discussing fighting tactics!?

Not to worry.  The venerable monk does not offer us ways to win a bar fight. 

The “battle tactics” relate closely to this old saying:  More powerful is he who conquers himself than he who takes a city.

A sample quotation follows.


HOW TO TELL THE TRUTH.

When we want to prove a point, we may be tempted to twist the truth or say something that is only partially true.

We may exaggerate by intentionally making something out to be greater or more extreme then it is.

We may add, embellish, or invent details to prove we are right.

This kind of speech can lead to misunderstanding and distrust.

We have to practice speaking the truth and speaking it skillfully.  If we’re not skillful, we may say something that we think is truthful but it still might make others suffer or despair.

Just because we have observed or experienced something doesn’t mean we should speak about it if doing so will make others suffer.

When we see someone suffer because of something we have said, we might say, “Well, I was only telling the truth.”

It may have been the truth, but it may also have been unskillful and hurtful.

Loving speech requires telling the truth in such a way that it benefits others, the world, and ourselves.

When we tell the truth, we do so with compassion; we speak in such a way that the hearer can accept what we’re saying.


¹ ISBN 978-1-941529-86-7

Please note:  I have no financial interest in any book discussed in any way in my blog.

Politics (5th)

As the 2020 campaign evolves, many citizens are distressed by the shabby state of political debate, characterized by lust for political power to be gained by telling unending lies.

The level of pure, unadulterated falsehood is arguably equal to that displayed by any communist party propaganda rag in existence.  

How did such an extreme, blatant disregard for simple truth become such a popular tool with which to manipulate voters?

While presently I have no explanation to offer, and it’s true that politicians throughout time have never been noted for squeaky clean conduct—the only known rule of politics being that there are no rules—nevertheless I find the present level of disregard for simple truth to be more extreme than anything I’ve ever known this side of a communist party newspaper.

That having been said, it’s worth considering that polling consistently indicates we are much more tolerant of lies told by our preferred party than we are of lies told by another party.

Such polling results have led operatives of both parties to the same conclusion:

Whoopee!  We can get away with this!

“We the people” are therefore responsible for this situation, which will improve when we care enough to penalize both parties for their part in such shameless bastardization of our political process.

Democracy is much like farming—cultivate carefully or shut up about the weeds!

 

A Meditation

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”

O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom thou hast given the earth in common with us.  We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty, so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song, has been a groan of travail.  May we realize that they live, not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee, and that in their own way, they too love the sweetness of life.

                                                                                                  — Based on the Liturgy of Saint Basil

“Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.”

                                                                                                  — Albert Schweitzer