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Guidelines, Codes and Principles-What’s the Point?

 

CEO Richard Edelman delivered a speech entitled The Battle Ground is Trust, at the National Press Club on Wednesday October 18, 2017 where, he deplores the people’s loss of trust in industries, institutions and governments. He then calls for a new set of ethics principles for the PR industry.

 

I find it very remarkable and encouraging that the CEO of the world’s largest PR firm addresses, head on, the issues of ethics in the practice of the profession. He says: “Every company and brand has the responsibility to behave ethically” and that “organization individual guide lines do not safeguard ethical behavior.”

He is right.  No guidelines, codes or principles will ever safeguard against wrongdoing

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Your Humble Servant! The CEO!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The issue of being truthful or not has repeatedly been in the national news over these past few months and that is a good thing. It brings to our attention the importance of some fundamental values in our society such as honesty, integrity and truthfulness. The national discussion also gives us a vertiginous glimpse of the abyss we would fall into if we abandoned those values.

However, defining the concept of truth is difficult. Scholars, philosophers, and theologians have struggle with its meaning for ages. The concept has been explored in literature and the arts.

The German 20th century philosopher Martin Heidegger believed that the ancient Greek word for truth simply meant “the revealing of something that was previously concealed.” Another German philosopher, Jurgen Habermas believed that truth is whatever is agreed upon (the Consensus Theory.) The poet John Keats made the connection between truth and beauty. He wrote in Ode on a Grecian Urn:

“’Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ – that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

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The Grenfell Tower

 

 

The tragic, senseless death of 79 people in the burning of the Grenfell Tower could have been avoided. Last Sunday’s front page of New York Times article, An Accident Waiting to Happen makes it clear.

 

Accidents are defined as “unforeseen and unplanned events or circumstances (Webster.)

 

This was no accident.

 

As Justin Davidson wrote in NewYork Magazine

“There is no such thing as an accident when a high-rise building fails. If gas leaks, wires spark, or a wall crumbles, those are not acts of fate, but the preventable consequence of people not doing their jobs.”

 

As in most catastrophes, there were warnings that were willfully ignored for cost consideration. Glyndon Evans, a fire safety advisor to the fire fighters’ union had testified in parliament about the risk that the cladding that made up the façade of the tower could combust. He said: “If the cladding cannot resist the spread of flames across the surface, it will vertically envelop the building.” That is exactly what happened.

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The Daily Stormer & the Limits of “Free Speech.”

The recent display of hatred and violence at Charlottesville’s protest was truly shocking. It left one woman dead, Heather Heyer, killed and many injured when a White Supremacist, James Alex Field ran his car into the crowd. The dramatic events at Charlottesville were very well documented in Who HBO-Vice’s “Race & Terror.”

GoDaddy, Inc. the web-hosting company decided to ban the Daily Stormer’s site after it posted an article ridiculing  Heather, the victim.

Ben Butler, a director at GoDaddy said:

“While we detest the sentiment of such sites, we support a free and open internet and, align along the principles of free speech, that sometimes means allowing such tasteless, ignorant content.

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Patriotism Today

 

The current “Anthem” protests controversy should hopefully lead to a national conversation as to the meaning of patriotism.   What does it mean to be patriotic today, in a very divided society with sometimes opposing views of America’s core values and what it stands for?

 

Patriotism is perceived as a positive concept and attitude sustained by strong emotions such as love, belonging, gratitude and pride.

 

A position or an attitude perceived as un-patriotic is considered by some as a form of treason that deserves punishment.  According the U.S. Constitution (Article III, Section 3) “Congress shall have the power to declare the punishment of treason.”

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The Ethics of Silence and of Speaking Up

The virtues of silence have long been recognized. The popular saying “speech is silver but silence is golden” may date back to ancient Egypt. It probably means that in some circumstances the less you say the better it is. I can imagine that when you are in the company of strangers, discretion would be more appropriate than indiscretion.

Keeping a secret can be a form of silence that is highly ethical.

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Defining and Defending Truth

The term “leadership” is relatively new. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word can be traced only as far back as the 19th century.

Today, leadership has become a hot topic. Amazon offers 300,000 books with the word “leadership” in the title. It seems that most everyone wants to be a leader or at least be perceived as one. The leadership status carries panache and demands respect and undoubtedly satisfies one’s ego.

The most frequent question asked when discussing leadership is whether leaders are born or made? The consensus today is that there are indeed some in-born characteristics that predisposes people to become leaders. A recent research by the University of Illinois suggests that leadership is 30 % genetic and 70 % lessons learned by life experiences.

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Artificial Intelligence has and will have greater potential for improving the lives of millions. It may very well be the New Frontier of our century. Today, AI is being used extensively and beneficially in practically all fields of our daily lives such as in healthcare, the automotive industry, finance, the economy, politics, justice and marketing.

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Artificial Intelligence: The Imperative Role of Ethics in its Development

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