No Moral Compass in Zero

No Moral Compass in Zero

image‘Humans by nature are social animals that are intended to co-inhabit in a polis’ William Bennett (1996) The Moral Compass, Stories of a Life’s Journey.

Ethics is the study of moral philosophy and moral systems. Without an ethic one cannot have an understanding of the core principles that guide behavior. Without a clear sense of one’s core principles one cannot enact a moral compass. Humans are social beings and in order to live in community must know how to enact a moral compass that enables co-inhabitant living. When one doesn’t respect the common good (through corruption) the community will always rise up and judge such corruption. We are witnessing this now.

We observe more and more in this era the corruption of people in high places, evidence of a lack of a Moral Compass in services and relationships, evidenced by:

· The Financial Services Royal Commission (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-28/banking-royal-commission-interim-report-kenneth-hayne/10315908).

· The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/)

· The Royal Commission into Aged Care (https://agedcare.health.gov.au/announcement-of-royal-commission-into-aged-care-quality-and-safety)

· Corruption in government (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-20/faith-in-australian-governments-falls-amid-corruption-concerns/10138928) and,

· Corruption in the health sector (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-16/health-authorities-siphoned-thousands-in-cash-gifts-corruption/10127008)

There are of course many other stories of corruption recently such as: the Slipper case (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-24/peter-slipper-sentencing-hearing/5759326 ), corruption in One Nation (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-26/electoral-commission-investigates-one-nation-plane/8560062), the sacking of the Prime Minister (https://indaily.com.au/news/business/media-week/2018/08/24/is-murdochs-empire-waging-a-war-on-the-prime-minister-of-australia/), the Kathy Jackson corruption (https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/kathy-jackson-pleads-not-guilty-over-health-services-union-fraud-20171120-gzoshm.html) and the Craig Thompson corruption (https://www.smh.com.au/national/disgraced-former-mp-craig-thomson-misspent-more-than-300000-from-hsu-20150911-gjk9ae.html) and much more.

An ethic of safety is a moral system (philosophy) of safety. An ethic is not a set of standards such as a ‘code of ethics’ but rather a moral philosophy. A code of ethics is the product and method of an ethic. An ethic is a moral system or moral compass. An ethic guides a group or person in moral philosophy. If an institution gets it wrong, the community will judge them as we are now witnessing across a number of industries.

At the heart of corruption is the vice of greed and self interest and a vacuum in an ethical sense of reality. Without an ethic (moral system) one has no philosophical base for moral decision making. One has no moral compass. A moral compass is not a regulatory map but rather a social contract with those who one lives in community to act justly, fairly, morally, respectfully and compassionately.

Moral decision making is based on core values related to: human communal living, respect for others, humanizing others and non exploitation. All the Royal Commissions that have been enacted in recent times are evidence that these organisations and industries have no Moral Compass. All the evidence demonstrates that these industries are consumed by: greed, self-interest, ego, power, exploitation and domination. Often this corruption is masked in propagandistic media campaigns that regurgitate simplistic mantras to a gullible public lacking discernment to ask critical questions. Indeed, any sense of critical thinking is now branded as ‘leftard’ or ‘socialist’ by vested interests who mask their unethical conduct behind populist discourse of ‘fake news’ (further read The Death of Truth by Kakutani). Somewhere along the line people stop and think, can a moral compass be that hard to read? The avalanche of judgment by the community for Banks, Churches, Insurance Companies, Aged Care Facilities and Parliament is a lesson in what not to do when in power.

At the foundation of all of these corrupt institutions is a lack of an ethic (moral compass). The foundation for an ethic starts with an understanding of virtue.

Now that the SIA has signed up to vision zero ideology aligned with the World Congress on Safety it has no chance of enacting systemic moral decision making. Without an Ethic of Safety that reconciles the reality of fallibility with the nature of human judgment and decision making, there can be no ethical outcome. Any demand for absolute zero for fallible people can only ever result in immoral outcomes. The ideology of absolutes is morally incongruent with the fallible nature of human being (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/). Any ethic that denies the nature of human being can only enact an immoral discourse.

How interesting that in the proclaimed SIA ‘Body of Knowledge’ (https://www.ohsbok.org.au/download-the-body-of-knowledge/) there is no ‘Ethic of Safety’. As long as the SIA remains signed up to zero, there can never be an ethic of safety. An ethic of safety can only emerge from a social framework on risk not a framework focused on objects. 75% of the SIA BoK is focused on objects.

Of course the ideology of zero is not real, it cannot be. It can only be the propaganda of an industry with no moral compass (https://safetyrisk.net/zero-vision-as-propaganda/). How can one treat others with respect, tolerance, understanding, care, compassion and trust when the framework for conduct is built on the absolute vice of intolerance??? Until an Ethic of Safety forms the foundation for safety conduct , all discussions of bullying, psychological injury, dehumanization and moral outrage for unethical outcomes will remain theatre. If the industry does develop an Ethic of Safety, it will have no choice but to remove zero from its discourse.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

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