Sometimes, when we ask people to talk about the ethics of their work and the pathways they have taken to be where they are, they offer up their best linear moves and memories. Many of our listeners are interested in learning the point-a-to-b directions people follow as well as the google maps they rely on along the way.
Perhaps you have had a discussion with friends about the best attributes you want in your own doctor.
At A2Ethics.org, we have recently had such a chat (More on an entirely different kind of chat in a moment). One quality we decided is truly essential: the doctor who listens, not only to our hearts and lungs, but who actually listens to what we say and hears us out. In other words, we want our doctor to give us a fair amount of time. We don’t need all day. Just enough to get our concerns circulated and aired in a fair-minded and nonjudgmental manner.
In October 2010, A2Ethics.org had the distinct honor of hosting Bede Sheppard, the senior researcher in the children's rights division of Human Rights Watch. We know it as the Sheppard conference. Not only did Bede visit Ann Arbor to give a keynote lecture for our Ethics Without Borders Education Project, he taught a class of high school students about his work, talked again about it at lunch, and then attended a reception and dinner, where we asked him the same questions.
Imagine meeting each month with a small group of doctors, nurses and a few fellow residents of your community at a local hospital. No, you are not organizing the gala benefit that annually raises funds for the hospital. Nor are you talking over your monthly assignment as a member of the hospital's auxiliary and volunteer corps.
There was a time, we suppose, when telling someone you were a development officer for any organization would have elicited this knowing response, "oh yes, fund-raising." Or when having this position may well have required a spirited defense, including taking out a full page ad in the New York Times to respond to any and all critics: "Why I Am Proud to Be A Development Officer."
For the A2Ethics.org working ethics series, we have been touring the community, talking with people about the ethics of their work. So, this got us thinking: what do people do when they are NOT working? And is their free time really ethics-free?
Social entrepreneurs. Microfinanciers. Practical Idealists. These are just of the few of the titles given to the new nonprofiteers and venture social capitalists starting up and charging up the world to make it a better place over the last two decades or so.
When we told a few people we were doing a podcast on museum ethics, we got some funny looks. And some interesting guesswork about museum ethics. One wondered whether it involved people who deface works of art and cultural treasures: sticking their gum on Mona Lisa's nose. Another ventured that museum ethics included famous museum heists, which are "all inside jobs," such as the recent disappearance of masterpieces by Picasso and Matisse from the walls of the Paris Museum of Modern Art.