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Tag Archives: Ethics

Temple of My Familiar (An Excerpt)

Alice Walker included this poem in her novel Temple of My Familiar. She speaks to the challenge we face when we wait for others to do what needs to be done. They, in turn, wait for us to what needs to be done. It is a vicious, not virtuous circle.

In living and leading, the and others call each of us to be mindful and attentive to the world and people. My first language is French. I am not very fluent as an adult, but how the language is used seems imprinted on me. Being mindful and attentive is living and leading in proper relationships.

I recall my mother saying “ce n’est pas propre.” It is not proper and not right (vrai) or correct (correcte). Proper is a way of comporting one’s self and is an ethical position. When I hear politicians and pseudo-politicans say they followed the letter of the law, that is about being right and correct, not proper.

Aristotle spoke about praxis as an ethical practice in living one’s life. Goodness in this sense was the goal of living without knowing what that meant. When I wait for another to do the proper thing, I am not doing the proper thing.

To the extent that it is possible,

You must live in the world today

As you wish everyone to live

In the world to come.

That can be your contribution.

Otherwise, the world you want

Will never be formed. Why?

Because you’re waiting for others to do

What you’re not doing;

And they are waiting for you,

And so on.

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The Methodology for Happy

“It is not possible to live happily if one does not lead a beautiful, righteous and wise life, or to lead a beautiful, righteous and wise life if one is not happy.”  Epicurus (341-270 B…

Source: The Methodology for Happy

The linked post is a wonderful, concise description of happiness beginning when we help others without expectation of something in return. Aristotle spoke about doing good for one’s self and others as the greatest Good. We each have ethical responsiblity for all sentient beings, non-sentient things, and the world we co-inhabit.

Harlon provided a short list which help me understand what it takes to be happy. It is not a recipe, as I need to be mindful and attentive, always asking questions. What are the necessary and unnecessary desires in my life?

nature is never finished. – robert smithson

out walking with the kinders we happened upon a white swan happy and in between seasons. the same as us.

Source: nature is never finished. – robert smithson

When I saw the title of Beth‘s post and read her poem, I thought what a profound moment. Nature has many stories to tell us and many ways of telling them that leave a mystery in each story. We are always between the moments and seasons that desribe the beauty of nature and who we are becoming.

Several years ago, I took a picture of a mountain face. I did not have any idea why I took. It just spoke to me, like the swan in Beth’s poem. I used the picture in a presentation about eco-ethics, after I read an article about geologists who use the striations of a mountain to allow it to tell them its story, knowing it can never be completely told.

When I look at that picture, the mountain tells an even less complete story. The mystery in the story is what draws me back to the picture and maybe is what drew me, without knowing that, when I took the picture.

Mountain's Layers

Once you realize…

Once you realize….

Nisargadatta is new to me, but the short message is inspirational. Responsibility for who we are and the way we live is essential to living. Emmanuel Levinas called it being response-able. We are able to be responsible for living and becoming the person we are.

When we let the world inside shine onto the world outside, we are able to respond to the world more fully. Levinas’ work is often connected to ethics and living a good life. Ethics is about a practical rather than theoretical way of living. It is easy to take the moral high ground. It is not so easy to live the moral high ground. Being able to respond, to be mindfully responsible is essential to living well and fully.

How to Own Land

It has been a hectic week and I finished the first week of being a full-time student. My body and mind know this and are telling me it is time to have Sabbath.

I enjoyed the classes this week and they are an eclectic mix: The Tao of Leadership, Eco Ethics and Leadership, and Leadership, Language , and Culture.

In the Eco Ethics class. we talked about challenges faced by humans as we deal with environmental issues from largely a human driven perspective and agenda. It is about ownership and domination in large part and our thinking has to shift. As my figurative dad, Albert Einstein (wild hair, facial foliage, and eccentric behaviour according to students) said, “We cannot solve problems with the same thinking that got us into those problems.”

I came across this poem that shifted the perspective from humans being outside nature to being part of nature. I used a short story with students written by Leo Tolstoy called How Much Land Does a Man Need? Tolstoy challenged the notion of ownership as we understand it in the ‘advanced world’. Morgan Farley’s message is gentler and takes on the perspective of others living in the world with us, not separate from us.

Find a spot and sit there

until the grass begins

to nose between your thighs.

Climb to the top

of a pine and drink

the wind’s green breath.

Track the stream through alder and scrub,

trade speech

for that cold sweet babble.

Gather sticks and spin them into fire.

Watch the smoke spiral into darkness.

Dream that animals find you.

They weave your hair into warm cloth,

string your teeth on necklaces,

wrap your skin soft around their feet.

Wake to the silence

of your own scattered bones.

Watch them whiten in the sun.

When they have fallen to powder

and blown away,

the land will be yours.

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