Monday, May 3, 2010

unethical or criminal?

Another girl killed herself because of online bullying. Did you hear me say another? People magazine covered the story of Phoebe Prince, the news covered the story, experts came and spoke to the public about the phenomenon of online bullying, but she is still dead. Interestingly, all the stories mentioned that the bullies were actually nice kids, popular kids, and good kids from nice families. Nobody agreed whether they should be charged for a crime. While everyone agrees that bullying is a serious unethical act, is it a crime?

Does this question sound familiar? It has been asked a lot lately in regards to certain activities that have taken place in the banking and business world. We saw what CEOs did and most of us demanded some kind of accountability or consequences for the lack of ethics in our economy. We are the victims of corporate bullying. The devastation we are experiencing stems from a group of people in powerful positions who chose self interest over the good of many. One could say that this is so high school.

We have become a Lord of the Flies Nation. We live by our instincts rather than our values. Our behaviors feed our emotions. When we live by our instinctual primitive self we feed our emotions of jealousy, greed, and fear. These emotions place us in a survival mentality, our higher selves shrink and we live in the lower instinct driven place. We lose empathy, compassion, and love. We become justified in our minds to our unethical acts. We become entitled. It becomes our right to post on social networking sites such as Formspring, where people can post anonymously, and Face Book things such as “You should just die” or “I would only date you if I could keep a bag over your head” (actual posts that I have personally seen).

I have asked girls why they allow the posting of negative things people say on their sites. The answer is always the same “It is better to know”. Girls are living on the defense semi believing the statements that are being posted. They are shut down by fear and insecurity making it difficult to live at a higher sense of self. When they see someone getting bullied, they do not make a stand but it is not because they are afraid, it is because it is normal. It is considered normal to be able to say and hear any degrading, hurtful, disgusting, sexualized comment that someone has on their mind. This is in addition to the rise in lying, cheating, promiscuity, and drinking being reported in high school students. This is a snapshot of our society.

The Dalai Lama defined being ethical as refraining from doing harm while being moral is to put good into the world. Our nation is in the midst of an ethical crisis. If we do not seem able to refrain from doing harm how can we put love into the world and change the standards of acceptable behavior? Parents are responsible for the moral upbringing of their children. This means purposefully teaching your children to intentionally put love into the world. This is our job as individuals and our job as parents and we need to take it very seriously.

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