Thursday, April 28, 2005

Moral Courage

I just read a great book - Moral Courage: Taking Action when your values are put to the test by Rushworth M. Kidder. Kidder is the founder of the Institute for Global Ethics and this is his 3rd book on the topic. So he was doing ethics before it became a popular topic.

The book has a bunch of real-world case studies that show the challenges of being moral in the modern world.

It's tough to be moral today. New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote (in 93) how it was becoming more common for society to “choose not to notice behavior that would otherwise be controlled, or disapproved or even punished.”

Not to mention "groupthink" - the effect where a team, for example, makes decisions none of the individuals would have made on their own.

He is optimistic in the ability to teach moral courage and, to prove this isn't a topic just for the new millenium, quotes Aristotle: "We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.”

I have a lengthier review of the book posted. It's worth your time.

Monday, April 25, 2005

School all year?

We have an interesting survey going on at Though the site is geared to the 50 and over crowd (and those who care for and about them) we get a bunch of younger visitors - and many of them vote in the anonymous surveys.

The current vote asks "Should Children go to School year round? "

Some of the comments are predictable - Yes - kids in other countries do and we are falling behind. Yes - it keeps kids off the streets. No - teachers won't work year round. No - kids need a break and so on.

I am surprised at the number of comments along the lines of - "It would help the parents out - they won't need daycare in the summer" or "At least if they go to school, kids will get a few decent meals each day in the summer."

Have we really come to this where schools are seen as providers of social services - as opposed to educational institutions?

Littlest Heroes

My cousine Annie volunteers at a pretty cool organization. It's called The Littlest Heroes.

It's a local non-profit that provides services to kids with cancer and their families. As you can imagine, they have a bunch of sad but true accounts of bravery from the kids.

It's cool that they focus on the entire family because, let's face it, that is a traumatic ordeal for all involved. It's tough enough to watch helplessly as an older member of the family succumbs to the disease (been there, done that - turned down the t-shirt) so I can't imagine how it must feel to have the helplessness multiplied when it's a kid.

Check it out when you are thinking of contributing time or some dough.