ETHICAL...in an amoral world.
My exposure to ethics predates my consciousness. When my mother said, "you've got to consider the other fella" it didn't seem foreign to me.
Many times I feel that ethics is a delusion; business ethics and legal ethics are oxymorons. "What's mine is mine."; "The government can't tell me what to do on my own land." How can the dream of absolute liberty and the reality of absolute interdependence be resolved while our genes survive?
Many of the answers to the "eternal questions" are Biblical or Talmudic or perhaps Koranish. I read the King James "translation" when I was about 11 and went to various sessions of Protestant Sundays for a while. In navy boot camp, one had to attend some service on Sunday so I went to a different one each week.
Like most of you I have been proselytized by Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons at my front door and I know devout Roman, Anglican and Armenian Catholics, Jews, and Seventh Day Adventists in addition to Pentecostals, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists. I believe almost all organized religions talk the talk and almost none of them walk the walk.
Lately my favorite moral code is the hacker ethic. The term "hacker" is associated with the practice of computer vandalism/piracy. I prefer the meaning of its originators: one who makes computers work. The ethic led to the invention of shareware, a form of software distribution that allows one to try a computer program and then pay for it only if it is kept and used. Hackers also tend to think that software should be free and that "intellectual property" is almost theft.
Ethics are a mainstay of all my groups. You don't smoke marijuana without offering it around; if others are waiting to sit in with the band you don't take an unseemly number of solo choruses; if a player demeans the contest by defying the umpire's authority you eject him from the game. A bunch of violations occur but yours distance you from your fellows.
Some ethical positions are part of our organized religions. Governments are often guided by these same dicta. We suppose that in our form of government the decision as to what constitutes a religion is left in the hands of the members of those organizations. In fact they don't even have to be organized!
Kirby Hensley understands the distinction between religion and government. As governments begin to fall to pieces, being replaced by business, it has become clear that ethics are fundamental to survival. We must work towards making "business ethics" something other than an oxymoron.
If you are a member of ADAPT then you are also automatically a minister in the specific order of "The Holy Rollers" and qualified for and entitled to all the privileges accorded to any religious order including but not limited to the right to get grants to distribute in accordance with the tenets of your faith. I have so decreed this on the 30th of January, 2001 by the authority of God.
Universal Life Church has ordained more ministers than any previous religious organization. There are millions of us who are officials in Universal Life. In fact by reading this sentence you are hereby ordained a minister of the Universal Life Church. You may officiate at weddings, baptisms, funerals, or whatever you feel appropriate. I can't unfrock you but if you no longer want to be a minister that's entirely in your hands.
Just as you can take whatever title suits your fancy, be it imam, priest, guru, or rabbi, so I have become pope - not THE pope, just pope. There may be other popes than me and the one in Rome, but I am likely the most ecumenical of all. In my flock are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Shintos, and anybody who qualifies as having respect for Life - that's what Universal means.
Like the supreme court justice who can't define pornography but knows it when he sees it, I can only rule on which behaviors qualify and which are inappropriate as I encounter them. Who are excluded are those who are for Universal Death.
Just as the first uninteresting number one examines becomes interesting because of its discovery, so something found not to be, becomes. If you would rather experience death before dishonor, you will never be dishonored. We all have different guidelines as to what constitutes dishonor but the implication of that notion is that life matters.
I have been dancing among groups that I urge you to move from abhorring through tolerating to respecting; so, is it that any group has my blessing? Do I think we should behave more kindly towards the Nazis, KKK, or underground terrorists? Is there a way to tell objectively which ones qualify? I leave that as an exercise for the reader.
Urban gangsters have ethics that seem pretty warped: you can be blamelessly killed for wearing the wrong colors in the right place. Even those who kill lightly seem aware that murder is distinctive behavior. If we are our genes' vehicle for survival then our conscience is a recognition that we're all in this together.
As promised at the beginning of this opus: I told you what I was going to tell you; I told you; now I'm telling you what I told you.
Religion proclaims it.
Science proves it.
Experience verifies it.
We are all members of one another.