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"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to
  one who is striking at the root."
- Henry David Thoreau
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"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." - The sentiment
known as the Golden Rule, reiterated many times down through history.

Ethics and Morality

Ethics and morality are closely related but are not the same thing. Of course, in this noisy, confused world they have been amalgamated and the difference has been blurred. The difference between the two can be said to be in the direction they are pointing. What is ethical primarily relates to how our behavior affects others, while morality should relate primarily as to how our behavior affects our morale, ultimately ourselves.

"You cannot love others unless you first love yourself!"

One of the issues, if not the key issue, is which one should we be more focused on, be more concerned with? The quick and easy, "traditional" answer according to the definitions above would be "ethics". Think of others before you think of yourself! But of course, this is wrong headed because it violates the spirit of inspiration and enlightened self interest.

Enlightened Self Interest

The best, highest and purest form of motivation comes within the context of enlightened self interest. This is where ethics and morality lose any tension and fuse into a two-sided reality. When you know who you truly are, you know that being unethical will ultimately reduce or limit your own morale. The key word, of course, is ENLIGHTENED!

Besides the conflation of these two different aspects, there seems to be two additional major problems that confront us in sorting these issues out. The first is, of course, that we do not live in an ideal world, with ideal parents, ideal values and training and thinking, and therefore it is unreasonable to expect perfect behavior. The second problem is that we are awash in artificial, arbitrary fiat "moral" instruction that comes to us from the legalistic faction of the various religions. And then, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave!"

Morality is the best of all devices for    
leading mankind by the nose.

The Role of Influence

American schools are awash in moral instruction—on sex, multiculturalism, environmental awareness and so on—and basically none of it works. Sex ed doesn't change behavior. Birth control education doesn't produce measurable results. The fact is, schools are ineffectual when it comes to values education. You can put an adult in front of a classroom or an assembly, and that adult can emit words, but don't expect much impact. - The New York Times, Sunday, July 01, 2007

The article then presses on by explaining why it doesn't work, but doesn't really address what DOES work, which is actually the more important issue.

Shouldn't it be rather obvious that solid, wholesome, rewarding relationships have the most influence, because we don't want to rupture such an important aspect of our lives? When those persons with which we have such relationships model and expect good ethical, then isn't that the MOST powerful influence?

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