Here’s a little tip from the vault…if there are no consequences, people will behave badly…they will make poor choices…they will cause harm to themselves and others.
Don’t let big banks get bailouts, because if we do, bankers will take bigger risks. And that’s exactly what they’re doing.
So, make sure that the dentist is expensive (and painful) because that will encourage people to brush their teeth.
And don’t make it too easy to collect on fire insurance, or people will be careless with matches.
Insurers call these behaviors ‘moral hazards.’
Moral hazards occur when one person takes more risks because someone else bears the cost of those risks. They do this because they DO NOT FEAR the consequences.
Economists use this term to describe inefficiencies that can occur when risks are displaced or cannot be fully evaluated, rather than a description of the ethics or morals of the involved parties.
That’s a BIG MISTAKE in my book as moral hazards have everything to do with the ethics and morals of an individual, corporation or governing body.
THE MORAL COMPASS
A code of ethics is a moral compass, which serves as a fixed reference point for behavior. You either get the importance of it or you don’t.
A compass is a navigational instrument that provides a known reference point, which is of great assistance in providing direction. The compass helps us to find True North.
True North is analogous to what is ethical, right, true or appropriate in a moral sense.
Most of us have a moral compass though everyone’s does not point to True North.
If your moral compass is spinning, this means you are having trouble getting a fix on what is right or ethical.
Knowing the right thing to do is ethics challenge number one. A second challenge is in actually doing it.
Remember, behavior never lies.
Those whose compasses are pointing in the right direction typically have a firmer moral sense and have somehow escaped the moral relativism that is frequently present when one’s moral compass is spinning.
The pressure to succeed often tempts us to behave immorally or unethically.
In a world of increasing expectations, rapid communication, global economics, geo-politics and robust technology, our success and failures are both magnified and leveraged.
We live in a world where the unethical actions of a single CEO, Politician or large corporation can leave hundreds, thousands and even millions of people in a state of complete economic devastation.
We must individually and collectively elevate ourselves above the lying, cheating and abuse so readily accepted in our society.
The notion that nice guys or gals finish last is not the lesson we want to be passing on to future generations.
Ethics and values demonstrate what’s right with the world, and they need to be appreciated, celebrated, and emulated.
Unfortunately there are people in this world who will tell you that character doesn’t count — that ethics and values are naive and outdated notions.
They will tell you that only results and the bottom line matters. These types of people are examples of what’s wrong with the world and they must not be applauded, nor emulated.
The loud and clear message that we must demonstrate ourselves and pass down to future generations is that character does count, integrity does count, honor does count.
We can, and must demonstrate that success can be achieved without lying, cheating and stealing your way to the top!
So what can we do? What specifically can we do to reverse the tide and restore our ability to live ethical, values-based lives?
Here’s a two part solution:
1. Awareness: We must have an awareness that this problem exists.
We must be aware of the consequences of moral decay.
We must also be aware of our own behavior and the comprises we have made regarding our own character.
2. Shared Concern: We must have a shared concern for our children, future generations, and for one another.
The second step will require a level of commitment and determination that may defy explanation.
This second step demands a sustained and unshakable resolve, a collective will to effect a meaningful change in society’s standards and behavior.
The deterioration of sound ethics and values is the greatest single danger to current and even more so to future generations. It must be taken seriously.
Let’s be sure we are focusing on the right question. The question is not what can we do to prevent moral decay and it’s consequences?
The right question is: What can we do to motivate and maintain ethical behavior in society and ourselves?
That is your challenge that is the challenge of leadership and that is the challenge of every parent, educator, coach, politician, business, and clergy.
Why, because practicing good ethics is another way of demonstrating that…
Gary Ryan Blair