Ethical Inspiration - Hugh Taft-Morales
This is an article originally published in the newsletter of the Baltimore Ethical Society. It is based on a Platform address given by Hugh as Leader of the Baltimore Ethical Society on May 1, 2011. (SR)
The theme of my May 1 Platform on "leadership" was that we all have the potential - in our own unique way - to be leaders. I then asked, "How does a community where everyone is a leader keep chaos at bay?" I mean if a parade was made up of nothing more than drum majors, wouldn't it just degenerate into a crowd of people each marching in different directions to the beat of their own drummer?
Well, in part, what holds us together are our wonderful shared collection of beliefs, ways of living, ethical relationships, and caring communities. We are also held together by our common history from Felix Adler to today. For me, however, what really holds us together are the values we share. While they have evolved through our history, they maintain a consistency and heart.
I concluded my talk by sharing the three values I tend to promote in my "elevator speech" - that two-minute explanation of Ethical Culture you offer to an inquirer in the time that you are riding in an elevator together. A member of the Baltimore Society suggested I share these values again in this newsletter, and so I do. I ask you to consider them over the summer.
The three values I find that best reflect what Ethical Culture means to me are as follows:
1) respect and celebration of the inherent worth of every person;
2) the importance of creating flourishing ethical relationships; and
3) a commitment to nurturing social justice. These values reflect the sacredness of each one of us, of all of our relationships with other human beings, and of the whole human community stuck together on this planet flying through space.
In saying these are our shared values, notice that I don't imply that they are set in stone, like the 10 Commandments. I don't believe that these values are handed down by an authority. They simply are, as the Merriam-Webster dictionary says, "something (as a principle or quality) that is intrinsically valuable or desirable." Being intrinsically valuable means that they are valuable in themselves. I don't try to honor them out of fear of punishment. Instead I am drawn toward them. They make my life brighter and more beautiful. I want more of them, which is why I joined Ethical Cult
Do these values inspire you? Do you have a slightly different version? How do your Ethical Culture values and my Ethical Culture values overlap? How can they help us work together? But most importantly, how would you adapt them to fit your life so that you can bring out your best and help you live more ethically every day? I invite you to contemplate these questions over the summer.