Saturday, January 10, 2004

Reading: Ethics for the New Millennium

There's nothing new about Ethics for the New Millennium by The Dalai Lama. But, it is a good exploration/reinforcement of 'the golden rule' that is shared by almost every religion (and probably most formal secular ethics): Act with love, kindness and compassion for all others.

One of the points that stood out for me was the comment that the reason the media spend so much time focusing on violence and destruction in our society is that those things are news, whereas acts of kindness are so commonplace that there's nothing 'newsworthy' about them. He takes from this a reinforcement of his belief that kindness is normal, commonplace, and that the vast majority of people want, to do good.

The other point that interested me was that, with the broad decline of religious practice and learning, the study of ethics and morality needs to be integrated into public/secular education. He argues that our educational systems were developed in contexts where religious study was an active part of society, so schools didn't need to fill that role.
"Secular educational systems were developed at a time when religious institutions were still highly influential throughout society. Because ethical and human values were and still are generally held to fall within the scope of religion, it was assumed that this aspect of a child's education would be looked after through his or her religious upbringing. ... Although the need is still there, it is not being met.


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