The Struggle Between Wants and Shoulds 731.2

As a full-time ethicist – can you believe there is such a thing? – I spend most of my time talking about right and wrong with parents and politicians, kids and corporate managers, journalists and generals.

One thing I’ve learned is that ethics – being a good person and doing the right thing – is easier said than done.

Ethics, or the lack of it, is everywhere. It’s in the news, in schools, in the workplace, in sports, in parenting, you name it.

Ethics would be easy to adhere to if we never wanted to do things we know are wrong. Unfortunately, if you’re like me, there’s a constant struggle between what I want to do (my desires) and what I should do (my ethical duties).

I want to avoid taxes, pay lower insurance premiums, and have the freedom to go through the “10 Items or Less” line with 14 items. Business executives want larger profits, politicians want more power, lawyers want to win.

Too often, our wants overcome our ambitions toward honor and virtue. We lie occasionally or cheat a little. As a result, there’s a hole in our moral ozone, and it’s getting bigger. It’s going to take moral courage and real character to repair that hole.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 2

  1. Mr Josephson,
    I have been a longtime listener of your “character counts” comments on the radio. In addition to this I have attended presentations you have featured in the past. In essence I have been an ardent supporter if the princiuples you have espoused. However your recent rant about the jury acquital of Casey Anderson, exposed you for just how shallow and contrary you can be.
    Casey Anderson was acquited of murdering her daughter by a jury of her peers who sat through days of agonizing testimony and in some cases hardship. Then for you to express your sanctimonious opinion of “justice denied” and likening it to the OJ Simpson trial, destroyed any credibility you may previously have held. I will never listen to another of your commentaries!

  2. I love the ‘Moral Ozone’ concept, thank you for sharing that, it’s something I can use when my family chide me for waiting in line or putting supermarket rolleys back and not queue-jumping on the motorway!

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