How Good People Make Tough Choices
Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living
By Rushworth M. Kidder
Excerpts from Rushworth Kidder's book on the morality of mindfulness which enables us to think clearly about thorny ethical issues facing us and the country:
"The world, of course, hardly ever presents a truly level playing field. All things are rarely equal. An action that is right in the abstract may, in the push and pull of human interchange, be less right than some other. That's where the tough choices arise.
"By themselves, these four paradigms won't make those choices for us. It's hard to imagine a leader who succeeds simply by staking out one side of a paradigm and doggedly adhering to it no matter what happens. That's not to say people don't try: In a society schooled on quick fixes and educated by sitcoms that solve everything in half an hour, there is an undeniable temptation to find a formula and live by it. Too often, however, these Johnny-one-notes of the values chorus miss the point. Clinging to one value to the exclusion of others, and failing to assess the complexity of the issues surrounding them, they substitute thoughtless moralizing for moral thinking.
"And for that there is no longer any room. More than ever before, our age is making short shrift of those who preach without acts, indulge selfrighteousness without humility, and chastise others' wrongs without understanding their own. A morality of repetition — mouthing unexamined values inherited from a ghostly past — is rapidly giving way to something new.
"What's coming? That will depend in large part on our responses to the world around us. What's coming, unfortunately, may be a resurgent morality of relativism, in which core values fall into cynical disrepute and cold-blooded self-will finally drives out all vestiges of honesty, love, fairness, and respect.
"On the other hand, what's coming may be a new morality of mindfulness, in which the light of ethical reason and intuition dispels shadows, builds firm conclusions, and leads to goodness, worth, and dignity.
"We will not survive the morality of repetition: The twenty-first century's choices are simply too tough. Nor will we survive the morality of relativism: There is too much leverage these days behind even a single unpunished act of evil. We'll survive by a morality of mindfulness. We'll survive where reason moderates the clash of values and intuition schools our decision-making. There's no better way for good people to make touch choices.
---From Spirituality & Practice