I am a hands on person, even the theoretical stuff has to work on some level or other for me to grasp it. So when I studied theology I could feel my brain go all mushy when studying theories of ethics, to do what’s right? Yes.
To be able to categorize the different intellectual schools defining” how and why and if so”s? No. Even God makes it simple, to love your neighbor as yourself. That’s it.
To me that is what life is all about, understanding this: to know what works we have to ask, not presume that I know what is best for someone else, but constantly learning, asking, being willing to think new thoughts, look for new solutions.
The irony is that when I went back to do my MBA at a business school, ethics was suddenly interesting, necessary and important, even as an academic subject. I think the reason was just that, I was older. I had lived, asked, wondered and been curious so that I could grasp the existential questions behind the theory.
Now Aristotle and his ethics is my constant companion when I am working with groups of people. He insisted that the highest wisdom, phronesis, is the practical wisdom, the one we learn through doing, reflecting, sharing, to be able to repeat doing what works. Not that books and tools is not important, it is just that they alone can not be a road to happiness, still according to Aristotle.
There is an enormous energy and endless possibilities in asking people to contribute, to share their practical wisdom. There is no force stronger than a group of people who stand together and has decided, this is our values, this is what important to us, this is what I have to stand for to respect myself, this is how we will build a better world.
Last week I walked from Union Station in Washington DC, down Constitution Avenue, to the Reflecting pool. Next week it will be 50 years since the March on Washington also followed that path. Have we learned? Yes. Are we still learning? Yes. Do we still have a long road to go till that dream is true? Yes. Is it possible? Only if we keep asking, sharing, standing together, only if we keep being willing to learn from one another.