The fundamental ethical issue of our time is how to engage with a world where situations and systems, are fundamentally indecent. And sometimes the people inside of these systems and situations choose to behave and respond indecently—and to do it repeatedly.
The issue is not whether or not historical past situations, peoples and systems were better or worse than current ones, that argument only serves as a distraction from addressing our current age of indecency. The real, core issue is how to manage the increasingly interpersonal conflicts that come with dealing with indecent situations and people in the world we have built for ourselves today.
This requires us to do the hard work of actively building new systems, and engage in situations by developing and maintaining an antifragile ethic:
Coming to grips with the idea that there will always be indecency (and this definition of indecency is individual, granular and personal, rather than institutional, democratic and systemic); and, the idea that individuals will have to make an active choice to address this indecency in behavior and choices head-on, rather than making the active choice to avoid, is the first part of the core of developing an antifragile ethic.
The second part of developing antifragile ethic is the idea that individuals must do the hard, emotional labor of engaging with themselves first and then others. The strongest antifragile ethical systems have at their core, a strong understanding and acknowledgement of the foibles and problems of the self first—before getting around to managing other people.
The last part of maintaining the antifragile ethic is to recognize that the choice to lead or follow is a daily, granular, choice-by-choice, day-by-day struggle that will lead to failure, disappointment and wrong decisions. But having that knowledge doesn’t allow us to abdicate the responsibility and accountability for making the hard choices (and accepting the consequences) granularly on a day-to-day basis.
Our need for ease (aided by our rapid technological growth and scientific knowledge) has led us to exchanging the hard work of being decent and building an antifragile ethic, for the faux immediacy of the unsatisfying search for an “easy” button, for addressing the difficult intricacies of interpersonal conflict.
There is no guarantee than this ethical development will work.
To search for such a guarantee is to ensure that the hard work of building an antifragile ethic will never happen. This is a fearful and childish search, doomed to never bear the fruit we so desperately need, to address our current, deepening, interpersonal conflicts.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: email@example.com