Recalibrating Our Moral Compasses

Submitted by stefan on April 4, 2011 - 12:26am.

[Note: This contribution consists of definitions, premises, statistics, and observations, and is meant to be a starting point for further discussion on this topic. There are three sections to this post, but only one of the sections—the Introduction—will appear here, as the whole post is 24 pages. The three sections are “Introduction”, “Definitions and Premises”, and “Statistics and Observations” (with many notes and source references). The whole post is on a pdf file attached to this “Introduction”. I hope this will be a helpful contribution to discussion here at Aidworkers.net.]

[Note: Originally posted April 4; revisions made to attached pdf file on April 20—additions to Section C “Statistics and Observations”, changes to structural arrangement of Section C, and added Table of Contents]

Introduction

In times when people are trying to resolve multiple crises, it will be most helpful to make ongoing evaluations of education systems, to see if they are serving communities as well as they can. It will also be most helpful if a majority of the residents in a particular community or region understand how many different ways education occurs in our complex world—as once this is understood, efforts can be made to make better use of such pathways.

Here this writer suggests that another essential step in evaluating education systems is for as many of us as possible to evaluate our own personal moral compasses, to see if our most basic understandings about who we are, and the essential elements of what we would call a “good life”, are giving us “good readings” about what to do, and how to do it—in response to the many challenges in our cultural landscapes.

Here is one definition of education, from the Catholic Encyclopedia (online), which is helpful on the subject of moral compasses in general:

“The meaning of life, therefore, of its purposes and values as understood by the educator, primarily determines the nature of his work. Education aims at an ideal, and this in turn depends on the view that is taken of (human beings) and (their) destiny, of (their) relations to God, to (their) fellowmen, and to the physical world. The content of education is furnished by the previous acquisition of humankind in literature, art, and science, in moral, social, and religious principles. The inheritance, however, contains elements that differ greatly in value, both as mental possessions and as means of culture; hence a selection is necessary, and this must be guided largely by the educational ideal.”

While this post is in some ways going to be a collection of notes and statistics, there are three specific goals which this writer believes can be accomplished here:

1) promoting discussion on the subject of “Recalibrating Our Moral Compasses”
2) offering a more in-depth assessment of the challenges of our times, to supplement the ongoing “IPCR Outreach 2011” effort (the content of which is accessible at the bottom of the IPCR Initiative homepage, at www.ipcri.net )
3) providing a kind of “wake-up call” to readers who may be thinking that the difficult challenges ahead are something that the experts will resolve while the rest of us are doing something else….

Everyone is involved when it comes to determining the markets that supply the “ways of earning a living”; and given the unprecedented nature of the challenges ahead, all of us have importantresponsibilities in the coming months and years ahead. And one of those responsibilities is surely to re-evaluate our own personal moral compasses to make sure that the cardinal directions on them are still relevant to a landscape of challenges ahead.

The two remaining sections of this post are 1) “Definitions and Premises” and 2) “Statistics and Observations”. The first section “Definitions and Premises” provides a kind of “sample touchstone” for re-evaluating moral compasses (with two questions at the end of the section included as a way of “testing” the validity of the definitions and premises being used). Most of the definitions are general observations which are offered as reminders of basic assumptions about education. The section may be summarized by the following commentary (by this writer): “education provides a means for cultural values to be incorporated into the moral compasses of young people, so that they can learn how to be responsible citizens”. The second section “Statistics and Observations” provides examples of the sources of information this writer is using to make his risk assessments relating to the challenges of our times. Some of the statistics and observations in this section have caused this writer to make significant recalibrations to his moral compass.

As an exercise to make this post most useful, this writer asks readers to consider the “Definitions and Premises” (or substitute their own definitions and premises in that section); and then consider whether the “Statistics and Observations” confirm that they are getting “good readings” from their moral compass… i.e. that their moral compass is telling them something, and the challenges they see in the cultural landscape in front of them can be overcome by relying on their moral compass, just as it is calibrated.

What this writer would like to know from readers—in posted comments—is

Do readers feel that their moral compass is calibrated to give them “good readings”? If so, what are the “Definitions and Premises” which are the cardinal points on their moral compass? If not, what changes do they think they will need to make in their “Definitions and Premises” to re-calibrate their moral compass? [Note: This writer also accepts that readers may not agree that all the statistics and observations offered are reliable or authoritative enough to be considered a good test of a moral compasses “calibration”. If this is the case for more than just a few of the statistics and observations, then this writer calls upon readers who are willing to provide a similar set of definitions, premises, statistics, and observations (or a similar set of statistics and observations)—to create a comparison for readers to sample and evaluate.]

I hope readers will explore the whole post (all three sections of “Recalibrating Our Moral Compasses”) by way of the attached pdf file. This post is also accessible from the homepage of The IPCR Initiative website (just above the “IPCR Outreach 2011” section).

With Kind Regards,

Stefan Pasti, Founder and Outreach Coodinator
The Interfaith Peacebuilding and Community Revitalization (IPCR) Initiative

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Recalibrating Our Moral Compasses.pdf249.55 KB
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