COMMENTARY 774.1: Acting on Principle and Good Intentions

I once heard a story about an emergency medical technician I’ll call Jake who was summoned to help an unconscious woman. When he arrived, she had no pulse. From her color and dilated eyes, he could tell she’d suffered serious brain damage. Still, he did his job exceptionally well, trying over and over to restart her heart. She finally regained …

COMMENTARY 773.5 & STTA #6: The Master Carpenter and His Crumbling Integrity

Hi, this is Michael Josephson with something to think about. Joe was a master carpenter who worked for Martin, a very successful builder of fine homes for 40 years. When he told Martin he wanted to retire, Martin thanked him graciously and gave him a $10,000 check for Joe’s years of service. Martin owned a magnificent lot with a spectacular …

COMMENTARY 773.3: What’s So Important About the Law?

Did you know today is Law Day? In 1958 President Eisenhower declared May 1st Law Day to honor the critical role of law in our unique constitutional democracy. It may seem peculiar to some to celebrate the concept and reality of law, but the truth is that most of us vastly under-appreciate the significance of law to our way of thinking …

COMMENTARY 773.1: Good Ethics Make Better Relationships

While I believe that good things tend to happen to people who consistently choose the high road, the correlation between ethics and success is a loose one at best. Thus, it’s pretty hard to sincerely promote ethics by appeals to self-interest. What’s more, when self-interest is the controlling justification for moral behavior, moral reasoning is replaced by a pragmatic cost-benefit …

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT #4: I Just Have to Outrun You

Hi, this is Michael Josephson with something to think about. During a camping trip, Marie and Jessica were hiking in a trail when they saw a big black bear. Marie started to take off her backpack. Jessica whispered, “What are you going to do?” Marie answered, “I’m going to run for it.”

COMMENTARY 772.5: Planned Abandonment

Management guru Peter Drucker advocated a practice he called planned abandonment. He stressed how important it is that managers develop the wisdom and courage to regularly review what their organization is doing and determine whether it’s worth doing. He urged executives to note and resist the systemic and emotional forces that make it difficult to abandon activities that drain resources, …

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT #3: Leadership on a Bus

Hi, this is Michael Josephson with something to think about. Mr. Martin told his English class that leadership was “influencing meaningful change either through your own conduct or by motivating others to act,” and he assigned an essay requiring students to write about a personal experience with leadership. The students groaned, insisting they couldn’t think of anything, so Mr. Martin …

COMMENTARY 772.2: Ethics — Easier Said Than Done

As a full-time ethicist – can you believe there even is such a thing? – I spend lots of time talking and writing about right and wrong. One thing I’ve learned is that in the last analysis, consistently doing the right thing is easier said than done. For one thing, it’s not always easy knowing what’s right. We want to …

COMMENTARY 771.4: The Responsibility to Decide

Frank is a new supervisor who wants to do well. Maria consistently comes in late. When he confronts her, she makes a joke out of it. Hoping to win friendship and loyalty, Frank is painfully patient with her, but Pat, a conscientious employee, urges him to do more. Soon others begin to come in late, and Pat quits. Frank feels …

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT FOR TEENS: Is This Generous or Just Dumb?

Hi, this is Michael Josephson for CHARACTER COUNTS! with “Something to Think About” A few years ago, I told this story on the radio and it generated a lot of disagreement. Jack was excited when he was given an unexpected bonus check of $1,000 from his employers. He was anxious to rush home to tell his family, but before he …

COMMENTARY 770.5: Desiderata

In 1927, Max Ehrmann gave us timeless advice in a poem called “Desiderata” (Latin for “things desired”): Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and …

COMMENTARY 770.2: Establishing a Culture of Kindness

Though intensive media attention to bullying has died down, the problem persists in many forms, and it continues to diminish the lives of tens of thousands of young people every day. According to a recent survey, roughly half of all high school students say that in the past year they were bullied in a manner that seriously upset them. A …

Don’t Miss This One! OBSERVATION & WORTH SEEING: Out of the Closet. I know many of the people who follow my work have a deeply grounded religious belief that homosexuality is a sin. Many fortify their convictions by believing that God would not make any child homosexual and, therefore, that it is a choice to be gay or lesbian. Whether you fall into this group or simply want to better understand the human dimension of this aspect of the bullying problem, please take the time to watch the videos included here. It could change your perspective, maybe even your life.

First, a preface: Young people are harassed, humiliated, and intimidated at school for all sorts of reasons – their looks, the way they talk, their race, and more — but students who are or are perceived to be gay are subjected to the most persistent and pernicious forms of bullying. This has led to more suicides than any other cause …

COMMENTARY 770.1: Respect Means Knowing When to Back Off

I’ve talked before about the ethical obligation to treat others with respect by attentive listening. Today, I want to talk about the flip side of respect: the duty to back off and accept the fact that while others should listen to us, we can’t demand that they agree with us. Such unreasonable demands are especially prevalent when someone in authority …

COMMENTARY 768.1: We Shape Our Own Character

There’s no doubt that our character has a profound effect on our future. What we must remember, however, is not merely how powerful character is in influencing our destiny, but how powerful we are in shaping our own character and, therefore, our own destiny. Character may determine our fate, but character is not determined by fate.

QUOTES: The Best Wise and Witty Quotes about Children and Parenting

We are glad you visited us to find this selection of quotes on a topic that means so much to me – children and parenting. The Josephson Institute is a nonprofit organization devoted to increasing the ethical quality of individual and personal decision making.  I hope you’ll browse our other entries and subscribe to our What Will Matter blog at …

WORTH WATCHING: Parenting on Facebook. Dad’s rant against 15-year-old’s disrespectful and profane Facebook post ends with shooting her laptop. Gets 31 million views and sets off national controversy.

In February 2012, a North Carolina dad named Tommy Jordan discovered a Facebook post by his 15-year-old daughter that trashed him and complained about chores in a manner that most would agree was disrespectful and profane. He videotaped his response and ended his 8-minute rant by literally shooting her laptop. He posted the video on her Facebook profile and it went viral …

COMMENTARY 767.5: Two Sets of Proud Parents

I received an e-mail with a story worth sharing. Only the names have been changed to preserve privacy. Doug is the proud and loving father of Emma, a high school junior who takes a leadership class responsible for putting on dances and other student events. All student body officers must take the class, but a number of other kids like …

COMMENTARY 767.4: Careful — Your Children May Be Watching

Matt, an eighth grade teacher, was in a huge hurry. With guests arriving at his home shortly, he had a small list of things to buy. With 14 items in his basket, he decided to chance it and use the “10 items or less” express line. Matt’s heart pounded when he saw Phil, one of his students, come toward him. …

COMMENTARY 767.1: A Coach’s Dilemma

A high school football coach wrote to tell me his team was going to the state finals, but he was troubled. An English teacher had caught three of his players cheating on an exam they had to pass to remain eligible. He told the coach he had passed them anyway, “for the good of the school.”

COMMENTARY 766.5: Coaching a Winning Machine

When Larry volunteered to coach a kids’ football team he wanted to help each youngster develop not only their football skills but their character and work habits. He also wanted mold these youngsters into a winning machine. Early on, however, he saw that these goals were not always compatible. In the end, his desire to win won, and he convinced …

COMMENTARY 766.4: Leadership By Example

Mark Gibson, a former gymnastics coach who worked with many elite athletes, tells a wonderful story about a 15-year-old girl whose work ethic and attitude brought out the best in everyone. Cindy wasn’t a great gymnast, but when she was in the gym everyone complained less, worked harder, and, not surprisingly, achieved more. Cindy was such a powerful motivator because …

COMMENTARY 766.3: Doctoring With A Heart

When you visit a medical specialist, an emergency room, or a patient in the hospital, are you ever struck by a sense that many doctors are so focused on the scientific aspects of diagnosis and treatment of illness or injury that they ignore, maybe even become annoyed by, things like pain, fear, or anxiety? In her book Medicine as Ministry, …