Ethics as an Antidote

Oct 13, 2022

As we approach the ninth annual Global Ethics Day on October 19, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the thousands of individuals and organizations across the more than 75 countries who have made the choice to join with Carnegie Council to empower ethics.

Against the bleak backdrop of war in Ukraine, climate emergency, food and energy shortages, and multiple refugee crises—true north on anyone’s moral compass is especially hard to find.

In 2022, the power of ethics as a force for good is needed more than ever.

Combined with these ongoing struggles, we find ourselves facing a rather insidious Big Lie in public life today: that ethics don't matter at all.

We see this is in a rejection of basic facts and worsening polarization and hyper-partisanship that are robbing us of reason, making the struggle for power supreme.

Despite the power-driven aims of the few, we need to remember that in our personal lives and our lives as citizens, there are rarely only two choices. We must move beyond a purely "my right versus your wrong" mindset—this is one area where ethics can play an essential role.

Ethics is about making the effort to evaluate competing points of view and then truly caring about the impact of the choices you have made. Ethics is not some cure-all for the world's problems, but it is an actual process for finding solutions.

Global Ethics Day is our way of empowering that process and building community around the idea that when personal values conflict, we can still work together in pursuit of a better world.

At Carnegie Council we believe that ethical reflection is best done collaboratively in the spirit of fellowship and mutual learning. In this spirit, we invite you and your friends, family, classmates, and colleagues, together with schools, businesses, and institutions around the world to join us in taking time to reflect on the power of ethics, and to showcase those efforts.

Let's make Global Ethics Day 2022 a powerful statement and the antidote to the cynicism of our times. 

Together, we can empower ethics to imagine a better future!

Joel H. Rosenthal is president of Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Subscribe to his President’s Desk newsletter to receive future columns translating ethics, analyzing democracy, and examining our increasingly interconnected world.

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