toxic thought waste site

Theological whimsy, metaphysical larks, and other spiritually radioactive waste products.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Adventures in Ethics: On Flatulence

One school of thought has it that being ethical is like a muscle or a skill that you can develop with practice and effort. As Karen Armstrong portrays it in "The Great Transformation" selfless devotion to ethical behavior is practically a golden road to enlightenment. So as a personal challenge I'm going to experiment with slowly ratcheting up my ethical quotient.

It's hard to have a project like this without well defined metrics for measuring your progress. I don't have any good system in mind yet for how I will measure the total value of my various ethical behaviors but I will use two basic principles for measuring my progress:

  • If I add an ethical behavior and don't lose any existing behaviors then I have advanced ethically.

  • If I do more of an ethical behavior (give more money to charities, give blood more often) then I have advanced ethically.

    So one relatively easy ethical goal is to raise the amount of money I give to charity. If you are looking for deserving place you could do worse than the Malawi Children's Village And no I didn't learn about Malawi from Madonna. Stop asking me that!

    But giving money is easy, I want a bigger challenge (not too big) that will reshape my ethical instincts in a permanent way, make the world a better place and teach me something deep and meaningful about myself. So in that vein I've given up farting for the month of April. OK, not all farting, just around people. Ethics is all about other people anyway, right? This will develop a constant concern for the welfare of others, encourage discipline and may even help with global warming.

    If you are concerned about the direction the world is heading and are looking for a small but meaningful way to set the ethical course for your life, please join me in making April a flatulence free month. You have nothing to lose but that toxic haze.

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    Anonymous Matt said...

    Hey, good for you for supporting Malawi.
    I'm going to do the "no farting around people" thing too. I've been doing it for a while, even though I'm married, but every once in a while I get complacent.
    Meanwhile, the simplest measure of ethics is the number of smiles on others that result from your deeds. Which probably puts the Beatles at the top of the ethics heap: they've made more people smile than probably anybody else.
    There is extensive evidence that the god of atheists adds up such engendered smiles at the end of the atheists' existence.

    Thu Apr 05, 04:43:00 PM  
    Blogger evtujo said...

    Ethics are tough to get right. My farting has probably come closer than anything to ending my marriage. On the other hand it brings great joy and laughter to my children. I just wish the the various religions could some light on this subject.

    Thu Apr 05, 08:48:00 PM  

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