Consider a Code of Ethics
A friend who owns and operates one of our SKH Quest Center Martial Arts affiliate schools suggested that we might prune some of the words out of our 14 Point Code of Mindful Action warrior protector ethics to make it easier and quicker for young students to remember and recite. Might help adults, too. To-Shin Do students explore these codes one at a time, one with each belt grade from White Belt to Black Belt.
We sure could tighten it up. “I thoughtfully express the truth; I avoid the confusion of dishonest words” could easily become “I always tell the truth; I never lie”.
Yes but that would negate the oh-so-important point of why this is a code of mindful action and not a list of 14 commandments. There is an important reason our code of ethics is necessarily more wordy than an advertising jingle. This is a personal development program we run, not an expedient substitute for discriminating intelligence.
“I thoughtfully express the truth.” Note that “thoughtfully” in there. I have given thought to the impact of what and how I communicate. I am not a reflexively compulsive truth-teller.
Just because something is the truth is not reason enough to say it out loud all the time. What is the even bigger point that needs to be addressed or promoted in the specific moment? Sheer all-point truth telling for its own sake? Or is there some grander over-riding point or purpose in the moment? Think! Consider! Discern!
I once had a student who just had to put out there whatever she believed. If I ever questioned her critical comments, she would always retort with, “Well, if you can’t handle the truth…”
The awkward thing was that yes she spoke her mind, but she was often just plain wrong as to what was true. She expressed her views of how things and other people should have been, based on her views of how the world should have worked. She fervently believed what she believed, and her beliefs kept her stuck in a world where others were always held responsible for what bothered her. I gently urged her to see that if she more thoughtfully expressed the (OK, “her”) truth, perhaps her husband would still be living with her and her sons and daughters might still be speaking to her.
“I avoid the confusion of dishonest words.” Again the key is the non-reflexive quality of the “I avoid…” as opposed to a flat-out just plain “I never…”. You have to think to make this work.
Sometimes, when up against a monster of a person or group or situation, in order to promote the better good I may choose to avoid blunt mechanical pronouncements of all parts of the whole truth. I do not have to tell all that I know all of the time; I may need to speak tactically. Is this lying? What is the greatest benefit for all in this situation?
The purpose of the SKH Quest Center 14 Point Code is to create the best life possible by encouraging full ethical responsibility for our interactions with others. Take charge of your experience! Use the 14-Point Code of Mindful Action as a guide for making life more enjoyable and meaningful. But remember to think carefully about what you are committing to creating by means of your ethics code.