What Is Your Ethical IQ?

Marsha and I were having breakfast the other day when she raised an interesting question.  I had just shared with her an article about how Amazon was implementing a marketing strategy in India that, if successful, would displace millions of small Indian retailers.  Her response was simple, but it bowled me off my feet: “Why?  Why do they want to do that?  Don’t they have enough?  Do they ever stop to consider the impact of what they’re doing?”

The story was not materially different from how Amazon has displaced countless small retailers across the globe.  Indeed, shopping malls in the United States have shrunk by 30% on account of the influence of Amazon.  I chose to read Marsha the article because Amazon is a giant economic force in our region and what benefits Amazon benefits the economy in the Pacific Northwest.

But Marsha’s question would not let me go.  I kept thinking about the potential negative impact on the lives of millions of people and the resultant ethical stain left upon Amazon.  Why displace millions of small, locally-owned businesses with one ginormous multi-national?  I’ve been to India twice in the last three years and I’ve seen the vitality in the local economies of Mumbai, neighborhood by neighborhood.  Will Amazon’s plans make things better for people there?  I’m skeptical.

The question “Why” quickly expands to “Why do any of us act without regard to how we might be impacting others?  Why do I?  When do I have enough?”

Bruce Weinstein, author of Ethical Intelligence argues,  “Being ethically intelligent doesn’t just mean knowing what is right; it also means:

  • Do No Harm
  • Make Things Better
  • Respect Others
  • Be Fair
  • Be Loving”

Ethical intelligence may be the most practical form of intelligence there is — and the most valuable.”

When I actually use my ethical Intelligence it’s amazing to me how much light it throws on any issue.  We have seen in our own time, with our own leaders, an ethical degradation of shocking proportions.  It was remarkable to hear Marianne Williamson use her ethical intelligence in the recent Democratic debate when she observed,

“This is part of the dark underbelly of American society: the racism, the bigotry and the entire conversation that we’re having here tonight. If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.”

This blog is not a forum for politics, and yet I cannot claim to have ethical intelligence without calling out the hatred that is being stoked every day by the president of my country, and the impact it is having not only here, but throughout the world.

Quoting Abraham Lincoln, I invite us to listen to “the better angels of our nature,” and act from our best ethical intelligence.

Just a thought…

Pat and Marsha

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