#iSTANDfor: LIVING AN EXAMINED LIFE
By The Ethics Centre
From our base in Sydney, Australia, The Ethics Centre stands for the importance of living an examined life – in which we each take responsibility for the choices we make and their effect on others and the world. This is the essence of ethics – to live with the moral courage to do what each of us might reasonably believe to be good and right – even in conditions of uncertainty.
Our vision is of a world where we know ourselves and others: where we have the courage to stand up for our values and principles, the wisdom to explore the unknown, the opposed, or the complex, and the imagination and heart to strive for the very best of all we can be. So, it’s wonderful to be able to join the global conversation initiated by #iSTANDfor.
The Ethics Centre opposes every breed of totalitarianism – religious, political (left or right), cultural … whatever. Totalitarians are the enemy of the best in humanity. They sell us a sense of ‘belonging’ by scapegoating ‘the other’. They silence our opposition by labelling dissent as ‘treason’. They ease our need for ‘certainty’ by prescribing everything that suits their agenda – while proscribing anything original that might proceed from a free mind.
While engaging with people of all ages, we look, with particular hope, to an emerging generation of ethical leaders. They belong to a generation that is idealistic – with an instinct to find meaning in life, rather than mere employment. All that they might lack is sufficient hope that it might really be possible to make a difference. To do so is not a matter of making grand gestures. Rather, it is about smaller things – the ability, the willingness, to fall just on the right side of every question. Bit by bit, increment by increment, the world changes. You just need to know what direction you wish it to take.
For over a quarter of a century, The Ethics Centre has been working with individuals, organisations and wider society to bring ethics to the centre of everyday life. This work has involved creating safe spaces within which people can discuss dangerous ideas, the introduction of ethics classes for children in primary schools and the creation of new ethical frameworks intended to renew the ethical foundations of banking and politics. The Ethics Centre also offers the world’s only free, national counselling service for people needing help in addressing complex ethical issues in life or at work. When is it appropriate to discontinue life support? Should we protect our friends and loved ones from uncomfortable truths? With luck (and hopefully before too long) we plan to harness online technology to extend this service beyond Australia’s shores.
Whether it be through the development and deployment of new forms of technology or expanded patterns across cultural, religious and political boundaries – the range of ethical challenges faced by the world are growing apace. Who should be held responsible if a driverless car causes an accident? To what extent should we sacrifice our privacy and liberty for the sake of security? Are human beings sufficiently different to animals to claim special rights? How are we to be employed when expert systems do the work of millions? Can the planet sustain us all in a sustainable and just environment?
This is the stuff of an examined life.