It seems that we are constantly being bombarded with news reports of unethical behavior. What is unnerving for many of us, is that the level of misconduct is so alarming, that it comes as a shock to many of us, that these events are even occurring in the Twenty-first Century. Incidents like: (a) human trafficking, (b) government agencies controlling women’s rights, (c) world leaders who engage in tactics of genocide, and (d) corporations that mindlessly destroy and contaminate the environment in their endless pursuit to make a profit. What perplexes many of us, is that the more advanced and educated humanity becomes in fields like science, archaeology, and technology, that the special interest groups who are fearful of evolution and changes these innovations pose, become more vocal and work even harder to maintain their fixed views. In fact, some factions are so fixed in their positions they will mindlessly engage in whatever tactic they can out of sheer desperation to cleave on to their core beliefs, no matter how primitive or outdated those views are.
For example, years ago in a private conversation, I shared my reasons to another individual why I made a conscious choice to stop eating meat when a complete stranger overheard me. This man was so overcome with emotion from my story that he felt compelled to address me. He did so however, in a defiant manner that caught me completely off guard. He was so moved by my story that it inspired him to go out and find the biggest, fattest, juiciest burgers he could to devour. I was dumbfounded that my personal dietary choice upset this person so much that he felt a need to exact revenge by eating a burger! It was clear that my conscious choice to eliminate meat from my diet for health reasons, was quite upsetting to this man. In fact, it was apparent that my being a vegetarian made this person so distraught, that he felt: (a) a strong need to make his views known loudly, (b) was motivated to take a defiant action, and (c) did so with an intent and determination to “show me a thing or two” by purchasing the most expensive piece of beef he could find to consume as an act of revenge. I was also vexed that because of his limited perceptions, he thought his actions would upset me. I can’t imagine what his response would have been if I had taken an active role in trying to convert him or others to become vegetarians as well!
I was now trying to process why this man had such a strong reaction to my being a vegetarian. It was evident that this was a man that had “communication boundary” issues in addition to his fixed position and passion about eating meat. When I was conducting extensive research for my eBook, Breaching Communication Barriers (2013) I discovered that one reason we experience difficulty penetrating these barriers is the level of maturity, or immaturity, that exists between the parties who are engaged in transmitting a message (Berry, 2013). In this case, my private communication to a friend sparked an intense emotional reaction from this man, which in turn triggered his negative response to a total stranger. This incident revealed how a person with fixed beliefs becomes closed minded and even combative when their deep rooted belief systems are questioned. In other words, this guy was so rigid in his views that he was willing to engage in a strategy of attack to defend his perception of reality regardless of the outcome.
At times, like many others, I can become a stubborn creature as well when it comes to change. Like most, my first response is usually fear and negativity. How will this affect me and my family? How much change is involved? Will I have to make new life choices and change my behavior as a result? Experts in the field of psychology postulate that the initial negative response to change is typical in human behavior. For example, when the concept that the earth was at not the center of our solar system, scientists were incarcerated for daring to make such bold statements that went against what the church authorities dictated during that time in man’s history. Was this a position the church held due to limited knowledge and ignorance? Or was this, as some conspiracy theorists purport, a concerted effort by the leaders during that period to keep the masses level of education at a minimum so leaders could manage and control them more easily?
One thing is certain, without implementing some kind of code of ethics to help in the decision making process, behavioral misconduct will continue to escalate. It is clear that to continue on a path of evolution with positive outcomes, we must work collectively on creating opportunities to grow and prosper in an ethical manner. In his book, Work: How to Find Joy and Meaning in Each Hour of the Day, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh (2013) suggests that one way to achieve this is to engage in strategies to develop programs and systems that encourage ethical and mindful behavior. These include tactics like: (a) learning how to deal with strong emotions, (b) maintaining good relations with other people, (c) keeping channels of communication open, and (d) avoid creating negative and oppressive atmospheres that pose a threat to others or the environment (Hanh, 2012). These are a few simple and effective strategies that can help us shift into making more mindful decisions with our actions.
On Wednesday we will take a closer look at what mindfulness is and identify different practices that can help support mindful behavior. That’s it for this time. Until then … keep working on your leadership and organizational skills!
Berry, M. A. (2013). Ethics in the Real World. USA: Kindle Direct Publishing.
Hanh, T. N. (2012). Work: How to find joy and meaning in each hour of the day. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.
“It doesn’t matter what you say you believe – it only matters what you do.” ― Robert Fulghum