On My Ethics
My personal ethics are both simple to describe and also simple to
apply. They are not laws or rules; they are principles and statements to
guide me in my ethical decisions. My ethics are situational. They force me
to consider each situation on its own merits. I recognize that rules and
laws are imperfect distillations of principles, and may lead one to
decisions which are possibly unethical for that specific situation. I use
certain general statements about life as guides and reminders for good
ethical decisions. My guiding principles and corollaries:
- Do no harm.
Insofar as humanly possible, do not harm other life or the
environment. This is not always totally possible. Life does not
present us with clear-cut cases very often. Many times the choice is
between the slightly harmful and the very harmful. This means that one
has to evaluate all actions carefully.
- Love others; they are yourself.
Love/care for/value others. They are a real extension of yourself.
Their needs, seen correctly are an extension of your own. Their
welfare is your welfare. We are all part of a whole. Any harm to one
of us is harm to all.
- Find the truth and follow it.
Truth is worth searching for in all things. This implies continuing
study and experiences. Once found, be guided by your truths, even when
unpopular. This is part of being true to yourself. Most great truths
were unrecognized or unpopular when first found. Truth is always
expanding as society experiences new things. Truth will never conflict
with the first two principles above.
- Know yourself; Love yourself, Be true to yourself.
In order to know what your needs and concerns are, you need to
investigate and come to know the complexity that is you. You are good
and valuable; you are lovable, no matter what you have as faults. You
can only be yourself, not what others would want you to be instead.
Being true to yourself will encourage others to be true to who they
- You can only have as much regard for others as you have for
We only know what we experience. If we cannot extend love to
ourselves, we will hardly know how to extend love to others.
- Life is learning and attempting.
We all have the chance to learn lessons as each day passes. We will
try to apply what we have learned. We are works in progress, and our
attempts may not always be successful, especially when first attempts
- Life is good. The world is good.
I believe in "original good". Everything that exists is
good in an ultimate sense. Sometimes my limited understanding fails to
immediately see the good in some people, places, and events. This is
part of my human limitation.
- Our feelings, thoughts, and desires can be trusted as guides to
action, if considered in their totality.
It is impossible to conceive of a good world without recognizing
that our bodies, minds, and spirits are all sources of wisdom and
guidance. We do not exist as some kind of cosmic error.
- Our body, mind, and spirit are all valid expressions of the
Since the universal ultimate is indivisible, omnipresent, and the
ultimate source of wisdom and goodness, we all participate in this
- We are all part of the divine.
As above, our very existence shares partially in the actions of the
universal. Living is an action of the divine.
- No one is perfect, nor should they be so.
Since our existence is limited, so are our capabilities and
understandings. This is as it should be, else we should all be gods.
- Everyone is a work in progress.
Life and learning are constantly changing influences on each one of
us. We gradually become more efficient at the process of living. We
should expect that each one of us is trying to improve, but is not yet
- There is no script for life to hold one another to.
Since life is not a story written in detail before our birth, each
one of us must discover each day how to live and interact. There is no
perfect script to guide us; it is all improvisation!
- History is a guide; so is the present and the future.
The lessons and knowledge from history are a wonderful guide for
action. Our laws, precepts, and the weight of human experience gives
all of us a way to approach today. Today is potentially different from
the past. It may require choices and actions never seen before. We
need to be open to the continuing process. Ethics were not written and
settled once and for all, never to be adapted to a changing reality.
In the same way, we can look to a future which will probably modify,
in ways yet unimaginable, our current views and practices.
- Try to remain in harmony with your environment. When it is hurt,
we are hurt.
We must become more in tune with that part of our existence which
is external to our skin. It also affects our life profoundly, both in
its physical and human effects.
- Today each one of us begins anew. No one is experienced in the
present or in the future, regardless of age.
An additional reminder that age is not a guarantee of wisdom, nor
is a majority opinion so. A majority represents preference; it may or
may not represent wisdom. youth can learn from age; age can learn from
youth. Today's societal standards many times had their origin in the
unpopular statements of our own youth.
- There are many paths to the top of the mountain.
There is no one way to live ethically, with those who do not
practice in that same that way having therefore no wisdom or ethics.
Peoples all over the world have developed and practiced ways of living
together ethically. They have all embodied wisdom. They have all
embodied mistakes and cruelty at times. It will help when we each
recognize that true efforts to live ethically may produce different
choices, but the fruits of these choices will benefit the particular
society in question. Perhaps we can each learn something of value from
another tradition. We do not have the exclusive knowledge of the only
valid ethics in the world.