The Ethical Warrior: Philosophy and why it is important
We can help people become ethical by encouraging them to act more consistently in accordance with their moral values. That begs the question: “Why wouldn’t they act ethically in the first place?”
There is a saying, “All actions proceed from philosophy.” Either consciously or subconsciously, people act based upon their core values. If you haven’t clarified your personal philosophy, you may not know what you will do when you need to act — particularly under stress. Philosophical confusion may even cause you to freeze at the most critical time.
The Ethical Warrior is a bit of a philosopher. He or she knows that his or her values, combined with training, will almost certainly drive what he or she does on the street — or on the battlefield.
If this perspective intrigues you, you should know that philosophical terms such as "values," "morals," and "ethics" are used rather imprecisely in our society. But, it is very important to be able to understand the distinctions — particularly if you might be involved in violent or deadly situations.
In order to facilitate the development of the Ethical Warrior while working with the U.S. Marine Corps and law enforcement, we created the following primer on Values, Morals and Ethics:
Values, Morals, and Ethics
Morals. Moral values are relative values that protect life and are respectful of the dual life value of self and others. The great moral values, such as truth, freedom, charity, etc., have one thing in common. When they are functioning correctly, they are life protecting or life enhancing for all. But they are still relative values. Our relative moral values must be constantly examined to make sure that they are always performing their life-respecting mission. Even the Marine Corps core values of "honor, courage and commitment" require examination in this context. “Courage” can become foolish martyrdom, “commitment” can become irrational fanaticism, and “honor” can become self-righteousness, conceit and disrespect for others. Our enemies have their own standard of honor, they have courage, and they are surely committed (we have all heard the saying “honor among thieves”). What sets us apart? Respect for the lives of self and all others sets us apart.
Ethics. A person who knows the difference between right and wrong and chooses right is moral. A person whose morality is reflected in the willingness to do the right thing — even if it is hard or dangerous — is ethical.
Ethics are moral values in action. We strive to be ethical because morality protects life and is respectful of others. It is a lifestyle that is consistent with mankind’s universal values as articulated by the American Founding Fathers — human equality and the inalienable right to life.
As Ethical Warriors it is our duty to be protectors and defenders of the life value and to perform the unique and difficult mission of taking the lives of those acting immorally (against life) when necessary to protect the lives of innocent others.
If all of that is a little too philosophical, we also created a vignette, called “The Bully,” to explain the terms in a more down-to-earth way.
You see the bully picking on the other kid. You feel — in your gut — that this is wrong. Congratulations, you are moral. By the way, most people are moral — they know the difference between right and wrong.
Now... you see the bully picking on the other kid. You overcome the “freeze,” you overcome the embarrassment, and you go tell a teacher. Congratulations! You are ethical. (Ethics are moral values in action).
Now... you see the bully picking on the other kid. You overcome the “freeze,” you overcome the fear, and you go to the aid of the kid being bullied. You put yourself at risk. Congratulations! You have the makings of an Ethical Warrior.
And it doesn’t end in the schoolyard. Almost all problems in our society are caused by bullies — those who would supersede the life value of others with their own relative values. We need Ethical Warriors to counter bullies.
We can help people become ethical by encouraging them to act more consistently in accordance with their moral values. That begs the question: “Why wouldn’t they act ethically in the first place?” The answer is simple. They are afraid; or they are embarrassed; or they are philosophically confused; or they simply “freeze” under the stress. So what can we do to help others gain the ability to “do the right thing,” even under great adversity? It is not certain that there is one answer that works for everyone, but there appears to be a formula that works for most people.
The “ethical formula” is: Moral + Physical = Ethical
When you break it down like this, a methodology for developing Ethical Warriors becomes clearer. Consider a training formula that combines philosophical clarification with martial arts training. You may end up with a wonderful contingent of Ethical Warriors in your organization.
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