Just Because It’s Legal, Does It Make It Right?

July 7, 2014 at 4:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Some people, especially in business, military or political settings, may describe our world using the acronym VUCA. It stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. There are plenty of examples that one could cite to argue for any of these descriptions within our 21st Century existence. How then does ethics, morals and values play out in our choices as individuals, communities, governments and corporations while navigating our VUCA world through interactions with self, others and the world around us each and every day?

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor Frankl

How often do we react instead of respond through individual or collective thoughts, words and actions? As humans we experience an interdependent journey full of successes and challenges, resulting in a vast array of emotions being felt. As seen in the beginning of the short video above, the enormity of a VUCA world can see certain negative emotions becoming elevated or heightened, thus dominating our patterns of behaviour through a reactive mindset. If you have ever turned on the nightly news, heard an intimidatory and discriminatory remark being thrown around, or pondered frustratedly the pace of change around an issue you were passionate about, you would know acutely the human feelings that have the potential of inciting a reaction instead of a response.

A reaction is where we let our emotions take the driver’s seat. We can be swept up in moments of fear, humiliation, anger or shame. This can result in an individual or group lashing out or becoming apathetic from a place of believing they do not have any other option or choice in a given situation/s. That individual or group may become combative and defensive, or breed greater disconnection and inaction, believing the ends justifies the means. This is very damaging to the depth of connection possible to self, others and the world around us in any given moment and impacts our ability to make a difference in our own and others lives.

We have all developed patterns of behaviour that have been influenced by many different forms of cultural conditioning. Whether it be within our families, the institutions and sectors of society we engage with, or the powerful media or marketing messages that we are bombarded with, each of us are making choices and justifying those choices to ourselves and others from an interconnected and evolving foundation. Rules, laws, norms and standards are created to suit a particular viewpoint, outcome or perceived benefit at a given moment in human history. But underlying all this, when we truly listen to ourselves and others, is our core ethical beliefs and values, based on our shared humanity, wisdom and truths.

I am reminded of Marcus Tullius Cicero’s, ‘The Six Mistakes of Man’, written so many years ago. In reading them today, within the context of our current VUCA world, they seem to be still very applicable and provide an opportunity to reflect on past and present lessons as we strive to foster responses rather than reactions and create a global village we can be proud of. As you read them below consider how our choices as humans move us closer to or further apart from all the things that give us the greatest contentment, satisfaction and joy in our lives. Not the things or possessions that can be accumulated but the deep connection and contribution that is possible for us all to courageously journey towards.

The Six Mistakes of Man

I. The illusion that personal gain is made up of crushing others.

II. The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected.

III. Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it.

IV. Refusing to set aside trivial preferences.

V. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and study.

VI. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C.–43 B.C.)

The choice to respond rather than react is open to us all. We will not always get it right but we can accept our own personal and shared responsibility as we align our thoughts, words and actions with the values that underpin fair, just, compassionate and connected communities. We can’t control what may happen in the enormity of a VUCA world but we can definitely play our part in ‘being the change we wish to see in the world’, remembering like is outlined in the video above, ‘The Future is Ours’. That word ours I believe is an important starting point for any response, a call to be and inspire in others ‘informed, connected and empowered individuals believing deeply in their own and others potential’.


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