Ethics, Civility, and Making Government Work for the People

Judith Cannon, former Manager, Academy for Strategic Management (1997- 2010). Her motto: “Excellence and Ethics in Management”

Every effective entity possesses a set of often unstated CORE VALUES, which guide decisions, operations and relationships. Without these values, no amount of formulas, recipes, checklists, training programs, communications efforts, motivation schemes, quality or customer service programs can be effective in the long run. As Moses said when he came down from the mountain top to find all hell breaking loose at its base: These are not 10 suggestions that I bring you, they are ten commandments!

Before we do anything or implement anything, we have to assess ROOT VALUES. There are two types of TRUTH – HARD DATA, which is observable and measurable; and then there is the second type of TRUTH– SOFT DATA, such as rumor and innuendo that people feel is true and can emotionally override hard data truth. We can establish standards of behavior in our local communities, we can tell individuals that if they violate the established rules, they will be responsible and held accountable. However, we cannot teach someone ethics because ethics is programmed and developed from birth over a period of twenty years. Ethics is a personal set of principles that programs us for what is good/bad; right/wrong; normal/not normal. Ethics is embodied in integrity, which means doing the right thing CONSISTENTLY. Personal ethics are usually reflected in personal and professional decisions, just as past behavior is typically a reliable predictor of future performance. Ethics is a gut level value system that is reflected in our character.

As a country, we need to seriously evaluate the way in which we deliver education and civics to our people, because this is where CORE VALUES are learned and the character of our people is formed. Virtue ethics needs to be the foundation on which all education is undergirded. Learning virtue ethics and its critical importance as the base on which our education system, our family and work ethic and our public and private sector business ethic is built, block by block, will reintroduce us to the promotion of the public good. Our founders intended that we remain a country where law reigns in trust for the people and by the people. No individual should be allowed to rise above the law because our democracy, our very country, the United States of America, is defined by the virtue of its people.

Ethics is defined as “moral philosophy”. However, without truth there is no justice and without justice, our democracy will break down, one building block at a time. We need to be able to look at our leaders and trust that what they tell us is the truth. Honesty, truth and trust are the virtues that build strong families, strong organizations and strong countries. Without moral philosophy continuously working as a bonding agent for our society and our democracy, we put our future as a moral society, a country and our world at risk.

Judith Cannon

11th March 2019

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