Ten years ago, March 8, I launched this website with two goals:
“First, I hope to generate a greater awareness of the importance of ethics in our lives; second, I want to foster a dialog with others about the affect ethical principles, or lack thereof, have on our decision making. It’s a dialog that will include politics, sports, entertainment, immigration, religion, the environment – any area of our lives that has an ethical component, which pretty much includes every aspect of our lives.”
Over the course of ten years, I have written about baseball’s steroid scandal, and the Four Horsemen of the Ethical Apocalypse, (Money, Power, Influence and Arrogance). I looked at the ethics of Indiana Jones, as well as the subprime mess in the housing market.
One facet of unethical conduct that, sadly, would recur many times over the last ten years are political scandals. From New York Governor Eliot Spitzer to Alaska Senator Ted Stevens; from Rod Blagojevich to the I.R.S.
I’ve written about Lincoln nine times and former New Hampshire Governor and Ambassador to Great Britain, John Gilbert Winant, three times.
During England’s Great Depression, it was Winant who spoke with honesty and compassion to England’s miners who were getting ready to strike.
“We must always remember,” Winant said, “that it is the things of the spirit that in the end prevail. That caring counts. That where there is no vision, people perish. That hope and faith count, and that without charity there can be nothing good. That by daring to live dangerously, we are learning to live generously. And that by believing in the inherent goodness of man, we may meet the call of your great Prime Minister and ‘stride forward into the unknown with growing confidence.’ ”
“I want to behave in such a way that my values are evident to those around me,” Sullenberger writes. “I don’t want have to try to tell them what I believe. I want to be able to show them what I believe. I want my actions to match my words.
“I had always wondered,” Sullenberger says, “if I met some ultimate challenge… would I be strong enough, smart enough, quick enough, courageous enough to keep my people safe? And I never knew the answer to that question.
“I think in the days prior to January 15th, I spent 99.9 percent of my life living as a regular person, anonymously, like everybody else… I had hoped that maybe I had made enough small, individual contributions that made differences in some little way… Of course, now since January 15, people are going to remember me, if not exclusively, certainly primarily because of the events on January 15.
“I think the life lesson for most people is that we can still make a difference a little bit at a time, but, we have to choose to do so.”
Shortly after January 15, California State University at Fresno Library Dean Peter McDonald reported that he got a call from Sullenberger “…about the books he’d borrowed that were stuck in the hold of a downed plane.” Sullenberger asked for an extension or at least a waiver on additional fees.
The subject of one of the books Sullenberger checked out… Professional Ethics.
I’ve written about The Golden Rule, Powell’s Rules, Washington’s Rules, David Petraeus’ Rules for Living, and Lone Ranger creator Fran Striker’s Golden Rules, which remain special to me since I spent four days learning about the senior Striker from his son, Fran Jr.
In a small, simple wooden frame, these words, written by his dad, were on Fran Jr.’s desk:
…that to have a friend, a man must be one.
…that all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to help make this a better world.
…that God put the firewood there, but every man must gather and light it for himself.
…in being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary, for that which is right.
…that a man should make the most of what he has.
…that “this government, of the people, by the people, and for the people,” shall live always.
…that man should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
…that sooner or later, somewhere, somehow, we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
…that all things change but truth and that truth alone lives on forever.
…in my creator, my country, and my fellow man.
– Fran Striker
More to come.