Instead of those red caps I’d like to see a sea of white caps with the slogan, “Make Ethics Great Again”. I envision white because it symbolizes cool, clear-headed thinking. The color bypasses the fearful partisanship that the color red has come to represent and the blue that politically resists the fear.
“Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.”–Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer’s definition of ethics is to the point and memorable. It takes all those various lists of corporate, religious, philosophical, and personal ethics and elegantly summarizes them. When deciding and acting on a course of action, if life is honored, then good ethics are practiced.
Dr. Schweitzer was perhaps one of the most interesting polymaths of the last hundred or so years. He was celebrated around the world for his humanitarian efforts and his advocacy of peace. He was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who lived his medical practice to the fullest. He was famous for his simple philosophy. The New World Encyclopedia says Schweitzer was a theologian, musician, philosopher, and physician. The introduction should have also mentioned ethicist. He was obsessed with ethically perfecting his own personality.
“In ethics, there is a humility; moralists are usually righteous.”–writer and artist, John Berger
One of the pitfalls of talking and writing about ethics is that it is easy to fall into the trap of moralizing. It’s easy to stand at the bully-pulpit and preach at our fellow beings. There is the further risk of hypocrisy when doing so. “Do as I say, not as I do” should not be an ethical person’s slogan. How does one advocate for ethics without being boorish and tyrannical? Perhaps it is best to investigate and explore ethics as an individual, then practice good ethics oneself. That way, one can teach by example.
“So I think ethics is the broader thing that’s less focused on prohibitions and is more perhaps looking at principles and questions and ideas about how to live your life.”–Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne, Peter Singer
In my opinion, if a person fervently wishes to be well-rounded, vital, and complete, she or he will come to see the beauty and joy that comes from striving towards a more ethical way of life. Ethics are as simple as Dr. Schweitzer taught; while the nuances of ethics provide hours of thoughtful contemplation.