In his book, Valuing Diversity, Peter D. Hershock makes the case that what the world urgently needs is an ethics of interdependence. He suggests that to avoid an evolutionary turn towards even more suffering, we must appreciate and develop skills in support of a world-view that accounts for the radical interconnectedness of all things.
The need for more widespread ethical behavior is not new, but it is reasonable to argue that we are at a tipping point in human history. Many of the meta-narratives that in the past provided us with blueprints for ethical behavior are obsolete. Our current era is characterized by an absence of moral guidelines and ethical clarity because the old rules failed to equip us with the necessary wisdom, heart and facility for navigating the scope and speed of change we experience. In a globalized, secularized world of infinite variety and individual freedoms, where do we find our morality, how do we learn to do the right thing?
It could be that ethics, or an expanded consciousness of intentionality is the secret sauce for getting through some of the chronic and potentially game-changing issues we face.
It is possible to learn from and hold lightly moral guidelines. It is possible to see truth, good and bad as relative distinctions and still discern appropriate and inappropriate actions. In fact, it is only possible to truly understand ethics if you hold moral systems lightly and acknowledge that right and wrong are slippery, ever-evolving contingencies. Discerning ethical “rightness” requires a broad and inclusive appreciation of the circumstances and one’s involvement in them. To act ethically is to be intimate with your intention, your honesty, your body, your intuition. It requires virtuosity in awareness, flexibility and compassion. We can’t predict long-term outcomes based on present moment activities. We can, however, become adept at understanding our own motivations, patterns of cause and effect, seeing clearly and acting selflessly. These are skills that can be developed over time and will always move in the direction of ethical upright behavior.