Friends and colleagues know that, for a number of years, I lived in Camden, Maine and led a large election-ethics initiative for the Institute for Global Ethics. Going to IGE was a decisive moment in my career, which up to that point had consisted primarily of work in government and politics (and some lobbying) in California. My work at IGE cemented my interest in and affection for work improving American democracy, which has continued to this day.
It also introduced me to IGE founder and president, Rushworth M. Kidder.
Rush passed away in early March. His passing reminded me of the massive role he played in my development as a worker, as a writer, and as a person. As my boss, he managed me with grace. As my editor, he taught me to write. As my mentor, he guided me to a deeper understanding of what it means to live ethically in the day-to-day of the workplace. While I had not been in close touch with Rush for some time, his loss leaves a hole in my life.
In 1998, Rush and I had the idea to start an online-only publication devoted to ethics. We began publishing what was then “Business Ethics Newsline” weekly in February 1998, if I recall correctly. Each edition contained a number of recaps of ethics-related stories, a link to some recent research of note . . . and a column on ethics by Rush. I remember that, when we were discussing the idea in the first place, one of the attractive elements to Rush was that the publication would give him reason to write again, regularly, in the essay form he had come to love as a journalist at The Christian Science Monitor.
Every week, for Ethics Newsline (as we eventually renamed it), Rush would pen a column touching on some aspect of ethics as it appeared in the week’s news. Sometimes, when vacation schedules or other things made that impossible, Rush allowed me to pinch hit for him. I learned so very much from deciphering his edits to my awkward, early prose.
With Rush’s passing, the Institue for Global Ethics has determined that it is important for Ethics Newsline to live on. Its editors (the same team of Jeff Spaulding and Carl Hausman who were its earliest editors) have reached out to a handful of people to contribute commentary on an occasional basis.
I am proud to say that I’m included in that group. My first such column was published in today’s edition. Here is an excerpt:
[A]s I sauntered into my local polling place last Tuesday . . ., [t]here were eight poll workers, and two voters. The campaigns? Lackluster. The issues? Small and nonexistent. The discourse, such as it was? By turns harsh and vacuous.
Small wonder turnout was abysmal. Yet, why should this be? In a seemingly unimportant primary with low turnout, my voice as a voter is magnified. I have no real say in who gets to run for president. But I do have plenty of say when it comes to local issues and candidates. Why are there not more people taking advantage of this? Why do we, instead, bemoan “politics” as if it were a dirty word, and just stay home?
Go here to read the rest of the column. I encourage you to subscribe to Ethics Newsline, which is free. If you do, you will receive a weekly (Monday) email with a terrific overview of the week’s important news, with a special emphasis on its ethical dimensions.
And, from time to time, you will see columns by me.
Hope to see you over there.