Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Backbone of Objectivity

There's been a flap of late at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which is the umbrella for PBS and NPR. The gist of it is that old complaint about a lack of objectivity, a liberal bias. The broadcast networks caved in some time ago to the current belief that objectivity requires representatives from both sides and the "news" person simply acts as a referee to make sure that the segment doesn't go long. I suppose that this would mean any discussion of Christianity would require a Satanist representative.

I looked up the word objectivity and found it defined as judgment based on observation with emotion and prejudice excluded. In other words, objective reporting would be a seeking of the truth. That's good old-fashioned journalism rather than partisanship masquerading as fairness or semi-equal time disguised as balance.

Reasoned discourse, the partisan handmaid of objectivity, has also disappeared as "debate" has degenerated into name-calling where the least polite, loudest bully who shouts over his opponent gloats about "winning the argument" as though it were some gladitorial event.

The country suffers when truth is a victim and those charged with seeking it are more concerned with currying favor with the powerful and the elite than with doing their constitutionally-protected jobs.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Daddy Dichotomy

Yesterday was Father's Day. It got me thinking about the Daddy Dichotomy. We're constantly told that we need to be a greater part of the family life, do more housework, spend more time with our children, focus more on our marriages. Laudable goals all.

At the same time, we're told that we're worthless. Look at the Op-Ed piece called "The Doofus Dad" by John Tierney in this morning's New York Times for a starting point, look at the phone call statistics (most calls: Mother's Day, most collect calls: Father's Day), look around. How can a group so out of touch, so stupid, so infantile be important? How, indeed can they function?

I began thinking about this dichotomy of perspective, of treatment, of value a few years ago at my church when, after a typical sentimental Mother's Day blessing of all the mothers present in May, the Father's Day blessing in June included "Lord give all these men the strength to stop abusing their wives." The implied assumption that we were all abusers and, therefore, less than worthless, was offensive to me ( and a very few others) but taken in stride by the congregation as a whole. Are we vital to our families but all abusers, too? What is a vital abuser?

So let it be stated here first:

  • We all have worth. No one (and no group) is inherently worth more than anyone else.
  • We all, regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender are dofuses (dofi?) at times.
  • Despite that, we all deserve respect.
  • Every member of a family should contribute to the family's success in individual ways.

Let's each value the others in our lives and make sure they know it.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Just a Thought...

I live in Minnesota. As I write this I look at the ways in which Congress is at a standstill while we may experience the first state-wide governmental shutdown for fiscal reasons in state history. Why? In both cases, I think, because some members of these bodies decided that compromise was a dirty word and that victory, both for their point of view and in the next election, trumps doing what is good for the populations concerned.

Scandal is rife in the land from Washington, D.C. to local governments and, as long as the accused is a member of the elite, it goes unpunished and even uninvestigated. Each day seems to bring new idiocy to light that makes all before it pale.

We keep hearing about the differing interpretations of the Constitutions involved. Dissent, despite the views of some, is a healthy, even necessary, ingredient of democracy so I honor any reasonable interpretation. Constitutional differences won't resolve themselves any quicker than ideological ones.

So, I have a thought. Legislators! Put down the Constitution(s)! Take a moment to re-read the Declaration of Independence. Read the complaints against the King and invert them. In other words take each complaint (a don't) and reverse it to determine a desired act (a do).

Are you and your fellow legislators more closely described by the list of do's or the list of don'ts?

What should you do about that?

Please do it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Question of Ethics

People who know that I speak on ethics often want to talk about ethics when we're in a social setting. I enjoy that because I'm passionate about the subject. I enjoy the discussion. I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy the questions.

I hate the whining!

"Doing the ethical thing would cost me the job/contract/whatever." "Ethics has no place in business." "Ethics is hard!" I could write a book -- a thick book -- with all the whines I've heard.

If living ethically were easy, there'd be nothing to talk about. Everyone would be ethical. The easy life is the unethical one. The life where one can do as one pleases and damn the consequences, to hell with the impact on others, screw the implications of right and wrong, look out for number one and others are just a pile of number two is the easy life to live because the only impact of concern is the impact on oneself.

This always presumes that there are no mirrors at home.

Ethics, like morals, is met at the hard choices. Where the easy, profitable, feel-good choices are the unethical ones are the places where ethics are tested. Make the ethical choice and one is ethical; choose otherwise and one is not. It really is that simple.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Importance of Truth Redux

Just this morning I back away from a project for ethical reasons. Those who think that I'm going to denigrate the folks involved in the project should look elsewhere for their thrills. People make their own decisions and I respect all decisions ethically made.

My problem is where truth is given a holiday. When I accepted the project, I stated two possible reservations. I was assured that neither circumstance was true in this case. I firmly believe that those who told me that were passing on information they'd been given. When the orientation started, however, one, and maybe both, conditions were so.

I spent half a day and some funds to find out that a lie got me there. Wouldn't everyone have been spared a lot if the truth had been told by everyone all along? Are we so used to people selling out their principles that we assume everyone will do so?

Isn't the truth easier?