Archive for Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Behavior raises questions about teen ethics

March 4, 2008


Wes: This column tries to balance parental and teen anxiety with a rational picture of the world. We ask readers to reconsider what is worth worrying about and what may really be fear of the unknown or media hype. For example, we've argued the real danger of Internet sex offenders is one part reality and 10 parts sensationalism.

Last week David Finkelhor, Ph.D., the nation's foremost child abuse researcher released a report that suggests parents worry more about what their kids put out into cyberspace and how they choose to interact with others online, than they worry about Internet creepers tricking gullible kids into sexual abuse.

With that in mind, I'll tell you what's really making me anxious right now. Teenage ethics. I'm genuinely worried that an increasing number of teens do not consider life with any ethical frame of reference. Webster's dictionary defines ethics as the study of what is good and bad; our moral duty and obligation, both as individuals and as a society; and the values we hold personally, in our families and in our culture. Of course, it's better to act ethically than to be able to define it, and when it comes to ethical thinking and behavior, I fear we're losing a greater and greater chunk of the next generation.

I'm astonished at the increasing number of accounts I hear of kids stealing. They steal from shops downtown, some of which have actually gone out of business for inventory control losses. They especially like to steal from Wal-Mart, justifying this as a sort of political protest against large impersonal corporations. They steal from their parents. They even steal from each other. I did a little investigation on this and found that I'm not alone. Juvenile officers with whom I've spoken have seen an alarming increase in first-time offenders, and these are just the kids who get caught.

Both at the high school and college level, young people report that the work is getting harder and the demands greater. In response, cheating is on the rise. Just Google the word "cheating" and you'll find multiple news reports. There's also a distinct lack of ethics in personal relationships - bullying behavior, dumping a friend to improve one's social status, spreading false rumors or embarrassing photos over the Internet, and cheating on their romantic partners. And lest you think these are the "bad kids," I can assure you that they represent a cross-section of society. Of course it's not that "everybody's doing it" but there is distinct upward trend.

Ethical decision-making is nothing less than the basic foundation of all human interplay. Every choice we make as parents, teenagers, teachers, politicians, therapists and bloggers is an extension of what we believe to be good in the world. If we are violent, we are expressing the implicit belief that violence is an acceptable way of resolving conflict, or that the person receiving it deserves to be harmed. If we give our time or money to the needy, we are expressing the value of beneficence. If we teach or serve in the military or the Peace Corps, we are expressing the ethical position that we are serving the greater good, even if we are not paid well for it. How we express these values impacts others. When we make a decision for ourselves, we make a decision for everyone.

We could write 35 columns as to why ethical conduct may be threatened. It could be culture, music, parental absence, lax discipline or cynicism. I suspect there's a healthy dose of poor adult conduct, which in turn desensitizes teens to the impact of their own behavior. For example, I am astonished at how many parents I've seen over the years who cheat on their child's other parent, and then hold their children to a rigid set of dating rules. Care to guess how well that turns out?

In the coming months, Julia and I will discuss how parents and teens can approach the world from an ethical stance. We hope you'll give those ideas some consideration. When our ethics break down, we lose our faith and trust in others, and when that goes, we lose the fragile fabric of our social contract with each other. That's NOT the sort of world we want our children to inherit.

Julia: I'll be frank. Ethics, morals and all other decisions forcing me to stick to ONE and ONLY ONE conviction scare me. I'm only decisive if it's an urgent situation, and even then I don't feel sure of myself. That isn't to say I don't consider myself an ethical person. I recycle. I don't push people down flights of stairs and laugh.

Really, the word "ethics" hasn't meant diddly-squat to me. It seems like such a vague idea, but its applications are countless and worthwhile. I don't really feel qualified to talk about ethics in all of its glory but I know that teens today really are different about their ethics. It's puzzling when a 15-year-old can stand up for her beliefs and tear down all others, then turn around and get drunk a night later. It seems the ethical issues that teens are learning to handle are based more on their societal opinions, and less on their personal values.

I'm surprised when I see my peers feeling obligated to have convictions and opinions to stick to, but acting so nonchalant about their personal values. It would be a lot safer to start a teen off with a good set of values and morals before tackling larger societal ethics.

Only after you've solidified your values should you explore other beliefs - and I emphasize explore. Adolescence is the prime time to take in the ideas of culture, media, society, friends, family, and yourself and make thoughtful decisions on your ethics. Don't be surprised to see your opinions change with what you hear, but never let your ethics be based only on someone else's. Consider as many options as you can before making your own decision. Ethics is sort of an all-encompassing way of examining what decisions you make and why. I think it's most important to have the "why" (personal values) before the "what" (personal decisions and opinions), but neither should be immediately answerable, or else you aren't thinking hard enough.

Next week: The ups and downs of medication.

- Dr. Wes Crenshaw is a board-certified family psychologist and director of the Family Therapy Institute Midwest. Julia Davidson is a Bishop Seabury Academy junior. Opinions and advice given here are not meant as a substitute for psychological evaluation or therapy services. Send your questions about adolescent issues (limited to 200 words) to All correspondence is strictly confidential.


jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

The law of supply and demand suggests that the price should have changed a little as demand shifted.


Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

,,,after that, schedule some quality time with your granparents.

Confrontation 10 years, 3 months ago

Too many ignorant parents producing children. That's the cause of all of these problems.

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 3 months ago


That is true.

I have no idea what I mean by that.

jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

Oh yeah, this is the part where, apparently, I say something to the effect of "man, you must be some sort of theocratic bigot, there's no sense trying to reason with you."

Keith 10 years, 3 months ago

Give me post-modern thinking over pre-historic superstition any day.

Escapee 10 years, 3 months ago

In the 'real' world...we call that procrastinating....

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 3 months ago

"There is no truth."

Do you believe that?


So you believe it's true that there is no truth?



canyon_wren 10 years, 3 months ago

Wow, Pywacket, you really get wound up. It's obvious you are a post-modernist, yourself. No point trying to reason with YOU! We're talking two different languages.

canyon_wren 10 years, 3 months ago

moo--"methinks thou doth protest too much!" You don't have ANY idea of what we "the accused" actually think or would have thought, had we been born in another age. Talk about arrogance!! People like you have my deepest sympathy.

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 3 months ago

I apologize for that last sentence; after reading your last post, I believe I misread your intent. You make a good point. I would add that absolute relativism is every bit as illogical as the other end of the spectrum.

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 3 months ago

A rare fairly well reasoned discussion on these boards, and along comes everyone's favorite waste of space....

verity 10 years, 3 months ago

What I meant to say is that is seems like this complaint has been around since the dawn of history and probably ever will be.

moo 10 years, 3 months ago

And I agree with Jonas, the question is not so much "is there Truth?" as "how can you think/know your truth is the Truth?"

canyon_wren 10 years, 3 months ago

When I read Julia's comments, I could understand Dr. Wes' concern.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 3 months ago

Sadly, Julia's observations about her friends as well as her statements about her own beliefs mirror the post-modern society in which we live. Post-modernists, whether cognizant of their post-modern views or not, look at the world as devoid of truth, absolutes and objectivity. They will say, "What's true for me may not be true for you." "I believe in God, but it's fine if you worship the earth, the stars or nothing at all. (After all, how can we really know?)" And the tell-tale sign of a post-modern thinker: "Who are you to tell me what's right and wrong?"

A worldview lacking a foundation of truth, objectivity and absolutes is like a house built on shifting sand. Post-modernism indicates that everything means nothing, unless you want it to mean something, of course. Then "it's all relative" in the end! Getting confused?!

We see post-modernist thinking creeping into our relationships, broader society, religion and ethical constructs. It's too bad, really, because the truth is knowable.

canyon_wren 10 years, 3 months ago

SettingtheRecord--I agree 100%. It is sad that people like Julie and others her age can't grasp the loss of something they never valued. Unfortunately, the post-modern view is not confined to her generation but was taught to that generation (by word and example) by people "educated" in the 60s and 70s. It makes for a pretty discouraging future for us all.

Hoots 10 years, 3 months ago

It's too bad that we now live in a society with no real truths, rights, wrongs, and nothing but gray area even though most things are either right or wrong. I see people who wanted to be treated one way while they see no obligation to return good behavior. I find this kind of person gets way more upset when they feel stepped on. The golden rule is not a bad one to live by. Do unto others as you would have them do to you.

If you have travelled the world much you would see how bad our culture is. For the most part we do not care for one another the way others on this planet do. We are some of the least happy people on this little marble. I think we came in 23rd or 24th.

jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

"canyon_wren (Anonymous) says:

Wow, Pywacket, you really get wound up. It's obvious you are a post-modernist, yourself. No point trying to reason with YOU! We're talking two different languages."

Gee, imagine someone getting wound up when faced with two people who claim that the answer for a world without answers is to arbitrarily claim that your answers are the correct ones, without any sound basis for justification of that claim. And then to dismiss them as somehow too wrongheaded or stupid to be capable of engaging in a discussion is wonderful icing to that cake.

Perhaps post-modern thinking, sad as it is, is simply the inevitable response to finding out that once hallowed institutions, both of thought and of society, simply don't have the answers. Once we stop hewing to some imaginary and unrealistic line, there will probably be some flux while we find a new direction.

After all, if we're to believe in an absolute truth, it should probably be one that doesn't require we suspend our knowledge of the world in order to accept all of its premises.

moo 10 years, 3 months ago

Oh well since 75x55 has made that clear, well-supported statement of, there simply is no further reason to argue. We all know that he has a monopoly on Truth.

Jonas, you expressed my feelings exactly and far better than I would have. Thanks.

moo 10 years, 3 months ago

The thing is, STRS, canyon_wren, and 75x55, if you had lived in the middle ages, you would have believed that witches roamed the neighborhood, controlling the weather and male virility, and that burning them was entirely justified and ethical. If you were Incas you would not only believe sacrificing children to the gods was ethical, but that it was a huge honor for your child to be chosen. If you were born today in certain countries you would probably consider stoning a woman who dared express independence of any form totally ethical. But you were not, you accept the Judeo-Christian tradition of morality and ethics as truth. Stealing is wrong, murder is wrong, premarital sex is wrong, etc. I happen to agree that for example stealing is wrong, and I also happen to think sacrificing children to the gods is wrong, but I realize that what people accept as truth is culturally based and ever-changing. What makes you think that you have definitely found Truth, that every other culture in the world throughout history was wrong about some things and you are right?

There may be absolute truths in this world, but I do not have the arrogance to assert that I know them. All I can know is that I have my culturally influenced ideas of right and wrong and I need to live by them.

BrianR 10 years, 3 months ago

Very amusing thread. Wow, give me a bunch of teens who don't understand ethics any day over a bunch of adults who claim that they do.

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 3 months ago

"Can truth be false, and can that which is false be true?"

Please define "truth". If I say "The sky is blue today", does that mean I am making a demonstrably provable statement accurately describing objective reality? Or am I stating that from my perspective alone the sky is of a color that I have been taught to believe is blue? If my two friends say "No, it's grey", are they speaking the truth? Am I merely signaling agreement with the statement I made?

Before I would tackle your question, I would have a definition. Because it seems to me that you are trying to lay claim to an "objective" notion of truth by subjectively and arbitrarily setting up boundary conditions as to what the word can mean; viz., for any given statement/situation/postulate/question, there is one right answer ("truth") and an infinite number of wrong ones ("falsity"). Which is fine if you believe that. It's even better if you can justify it.

But it just strikes me that, by this statement, that you're attempting to be an intellectual bully without the tools to do so.

jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

"75x55 (Anonymous) says:

"Perhaps post-modern thinking, sad as it is, is simply the inevitable response to finding out that once hallowed institutions, both of thought and of society, simply don't have the answers." :. that we want to accept."

Or perhaps that we should accept. Someone who accepts a truth that has precious little evidence to support either its primary origin of authority or its ability to successfully guide human civilization seems, to me, to be the one building his house on shifting sands.

But I think we've gone over this enough over the years to know that there is little chance of either of us convincing the other, ne?

moo 10 years, 3 months ago

I'm not making fun at all. I'm saying that you and I both have basic ethical and moral structures determined largely by the time and place in which we are born. I'm saying that were we born elsewhere, we would almost surely have the basic beliefs of that culture. I'm not calling the examples I gave backward, by our standards in this time and place they are, but by the standards of their time and place they are normal and mainstream. 75x55 says that truth can and does exist, and maybe they're right, but as they cannot prove it, it is silly to state that as a fact. I'm not making fun of you for believing this, since I also cannot objectively know it to be false. I'm just saying how can you determine that teenagers have lost their touch with Truth, with a completely objectively correct set of Ethics if you do not know what they are. Why do you think these ethics that teens today supposedly do not live up to are the correct ones. How do you know the ancient Romans didn't have it right, or that people in 1000 years with ethics not in any way resembling ours won't have it right?

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 3 months ago

This one is for moo--are there not universal or near universal rules that are basic for a society to function at a most basic level? E.g., "One cannot kill another person without justification." "Enough children must be nourished/cared for that our society propagates." (These are imperfect, but I'm on the fly). Are these not ethical rules? Why not?

jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

"If there is no assertion that can be true"

No, no. I'm not (I don't think many are) particularly saying that there is no truth. There's plenty of that. All I'm saying is that I'm not convinced that your Truth is necessarily the truth, so to speak.

moo 10 years, 3 months ago

Well you are definitely right, those are pretty darn universal. I guess I would then have to ask the question, are those near universal ethical rules universal Truths, or simply cultural mores which don't tend to be as fickle as others because they provide widespread support for what is essentially basic arithmetic? If we don't feed the children, we will not succeed as a species. If we kill each other indiscriminately we will not succeed as a species. One could say that the only Truth is the urge to survive and pass on your DNA. All ethics are simply a pact to which people hold each other: if I let you live to procreate, you'll let me live to procreate.

Haha, this is fun. And just so you know, I'm making this all up as a go, so don't be toooo harsh.

acoupstick 10 years, 3 months ago

from good ol' wikipedia:

"In its broadest context, postmodernism can be seen as a world view. For instance, Walter Truett Anderson identifies postmodernism as one of four world views. These four worldviews are the postmodern-ironist, which sees truth as socially constructed, the scientific-rational in which truth is 'found' through methodical, disciplined inquiry, the social-traditional in which truth is found in the heritage of American and Western civilisation and the neo-romantic in which truth is found either through attaining harmony with nature and/or spiritual exploration of the inner self."

I say "e" - all of the above.

moo 10 years, 3 months ago

Scenebooster pretty much illustrates the point that I was trying to make originally (and I apologize for apparently not doing it very well). STRS particularly seemed to state that he/she knew the absolute truth. I was just trying to point out that in different cultures many things are/were accepted as true that we here today would pretty unanimously call untrue. Yet STRS decided not only that he/she knows the truth, but should not be bothered with even considering what other people consider to be the truth. Seems a little fishy to me.

toefungus 10 years, 3 months ago

Our children are confused because we have a sort of bum rush of thought in our modern world. The guide posts have been systematically chopped down so that the "right" answer is relative to your situation. Who knows anything? Therefore what is right is what I make it. This, to me, is a society that is lost and confused. In the old world, these societies fell to those who had strong convictions. But with nuclear weapons protecting us, we may linger a long long time. I agree we are in a lot of trouble for the future. Cheating is so common at colleges and universities it is astounding. The work has not gotten harder, the student has gotten less committed to learning. After all, who should decide what I learn? We're a sick society and need healing.

canyon_wren 10 years, 3 months ago

acoupstick--thanks for the good definitions! They are useful and point out why we might not find agreement here. moo--I can't help but feel you are reading 'way more into STRS' comments than he said.

BrianR 10 years, 3 months ago

geniusmannumber1, Your statement makes sense to me because I am profoundly color blind, the sky has never been blue and I can say that from direct observation.

canyon_wren 10 years, 3 months ago

Actually Dollypawpaw is kind of a relief from all of us experts! She is talking about REAL stuff! And don't kid yourself--she comes closer to saying what kids are thinking about than some of the esoteric comments here!!

verity 10 years, 3 months ago

While I much appreciate the interesting discussion on this board, I want to make a comment about the other side of the article.

I think it was Aristotle or Socrates (someone from thousands of years ago) who bemoaned what the young people of his day were like. I've been hearing pretty much the same thing all my life---those young people today, blah, blah, blah. I'd have to see a lot more proof than this article provides to believe it. I've seen young people where I've worked that are a lot more responsible and hard working than some of the older, burned out, I could care less people.

Just my take on it.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 3 months ago

Dolly is providing some much-needed late-day laughter!

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 3 months ago

I guess I could see that in dolly's message standing alone, but taken in context of dolly's posts -- i.e., that those posts reveal dolly to be an ignorant, racist troll --I don't really consider it a breath of fresh air.

And verity makes a very good point. There are disgusting, irresponsible children, and disgusting irresponsible adults, many of whom were probably disgusting, irresponsible children at some point. And then there are adults and children who try to contribute in the best way they know how.

The "kids today" trap is so easy to fall into, and it's no different from generalizing about (or stereotyping) any other large group of people; above and beyond being unfair, it's also not a constructive way to analyze anything.

acoupstick 10 years, 3 months ago

In some sense, the essence of truth is whether you look for it, not how. If you are able to engage in a sophisticated, intellectual discourse about the issue, you're probably on the right track regardless of whether you seek truth in religion, science, philosophy, etc. In other words, the kids who are smart enough and motivated enough to engage a discussion about teen ethics are probably those that benefit from that discussion the least. Perhaps it is the journey instead of the destination that is important.

mick 10 years, 3 months ago

Remember the olden days when ethics used to be a big part of being in business? Today the only ethic is profit. This mindset has been the true "trickle down" from the rhetoric of greed. Don't blame the kids. Look at the myriad ethical examples and messages they see and hear.

kansas778 10 years, 3 months ago

jonas (Anonymous) says:

Gee, imagine someone getting wound up when faced with two people who claim that the answer for a world without answers is to arbitrarily claim that your answers are the correct ones, without any sound basis for justification of that claim.

What is the sound basis that justifies your claim that the world is without answers? How do we make laws, and specifically, how do we decide cases if everybody's right and nobody's wrong?

Frederic Gutknecht IV 10 years, 3 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight says: A worldview lacking a foundation of truth, objectivity and absolutes is like a house built on shifting sand.

Love THAT! Everyone wants life to be simple. Life IS sifting and shifting sand... There are absolutes, but as soon as you find them...they have moved along. It's a digestive system!~)

There are certain the pomotion of life, but life is reluctant to give up its spoils. So it is written, so it shall be done.

jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

You noticed the "two people who claim" right in front of that statement of beliefs, right? Or the part later where I said "I'm not (I don't think many are) particularly saying that there is no truth. There's plenty of that. All I'm saying is that I'm not convinced that your Truth is necessarily the truth, so to speak."

My clarity is insufferably flawed at time, but I thought I was clear enough through a few posts to demonstrate that I don't particularly consider the world to be without answers. Personally, I prefer the idea of basing answers off of observable phenomenon with observable results. I might be a little crazy in that way.

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

I figure the secularists will now have to re-create the wheel and impose, through the force of government, a moral system that will guide our youth. It today's America, if your parents and your church leaders tell you to do something, it is bad, but if government forces it upon you, it is good.

kansas778 10 years, 3 months ago

jonas (Anonymous) says:

Personally, I prefer the idea of basing answers off of observable phenomenon with observable results.

Who exactly are you arguing with then? 75x55, STRS, and Canyon's arguments can be summed up by this quote: Folks, you have to understand that truth can and does exist - then you can start down the road of logically constructing a path to determine what that truth is.

The obvious counter-argument is that truth does not exist, which you implied by saying the world was without answers (truths).

Now it seems you are agreeing that truths can be known, by "basing answers off of observable phenomenon with observable results." Doesn't that sound like a logically constructed path to determine what that truth is?

WHY 10 years, 3 months ago

So where can I go to find a list of all of the TRUE morals? The best I have been able to do so far is find a list of rules that keep me safe and make me happy, and surprisingly they are not the same rules other people follow. Is it immoral to say F*%# ? My mom says so. I don't agree so how do I settle this deep moral argument my mom and I have?

Escapee 10 years, 3 months ago

This collective group of posts remind me of everything right AND wrong with the Lawrence community! It's a good thing that folks like, and have the ability, to wax philosophically about a subject such as 'ethics' -- however, I think what Wes was really talking about could be more simply summed up as 'more kids than we know are struggling in the pool just to keep their heads above water'. I get so sick of the academics of Lawrence using these spaces to try to one-up each other in the intelligence department. Simplicity that reaches the most gets the gold.

Julia isn't to be chastised for her 'lack' of ethical thinking abilities...she's still a kid. And as a kid, she is still exploring in the grandest sense of the word. To her, 'ethics' are a restricting set of standards. To an adult, and I think to Wes, 'ethics' are a life boat -- and one that he thinks is in jeopardy of sinking in our day. I agree. The 'me generation' use to be a stage of life. But somewhere along the line -- I think having much to do with the great transition in what is acceptable in our societal roles with regard to the family/workplace/sexuality...all things which have undergone great changes in recent years -- 'ethics' has become a negative word.

It doesn't belong in the negative column. 'Ethics' are boundaries that can be applied to anyone's set of right and wrong -- not just one somebody's right/wrong. The important thing being that one employs ethics at all -- the journey, as someone else said, not necessarily the destination.

Unknowingly, even Julia employs 'ethics' in her decision making. She just wants to make sure they're 'her' ethics. Ok. That's fine. Wes worries about the drifting souls out there that apply nothing to their decision making -- the hope-LESS. To be without hope is a terrible place to be. And, I agree, there are many children out there who really are in that...sinking...boat.

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

To WHY, the list of things that others tell you will make you safe and happy is probably antithecial to what is ethical.

Godot 10 years, 3 months ago

Darn. "anthithecial" should be" antithetical". Google that while you are googling "ethical."

jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

Yes, it does, and I agree with above mentioned post in all respects save one, that the position of STRS, Canyon-Wren and 75x55 are pursuing the road of LOGICALLY constructing a path to determine what that truth is. Whether that is implicitly visible in the frame of this particular column of answers is perhaps up to question, but a long-term analysis of their frequently (some more frequently than others) espoused opinions on such matters leads me to that conclusion. More, I believe that they are unfairly claiming truth (or Truth), in this case by framing a discussion on ethics, and their lack, within their own narrow framework of what ethics ought to be, which is also not entirely derived from fully logical or observable sources.

Again, I have no issue at all with the assumption or pursuit of truths. I believe that there are truths that can be known through methodical study and application. I do not, however, see any obligation or reason to prescribe to a set over-arching Truth in regards to much of anything, unless you care to count the need to utilize the methodology I gave above. I suppose that may mean simply offering my own path to discovering truth, but I stick with my own as it, for me at least, promotes a sense of fallibility and fluidity which I believe is lacking in other, more set interpretations of reality.

If your point was merely that we all merely construct our own path or methodology for discovering truths, then I agree. If that's the case, however, then I wonder why you miss a potential contradiction in above mentioned posts: namely the presumption (built upon the unfair claim on what provides meaning and truth in the first place) that those not rigidly sticking to a pre-determined set of beliefs are thus preaching a policy of believing in nothing. Most of those people, I would say, do indeed believe in Something, but are marginalized because it's not the Right Something.

jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

That, of course, directed at Kansas776. Lots of other posts while I was being too wordy.

jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

Escapee: Nope, 'fraid not. I'm struggling through a paper on the macro-economic aspects of the Japanese recession right now, and it's killing my ability to shut off the overflow from my poor brain.

Assuming that was directed at me.

jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

Marion: "Jonas, are you on drugs?"

Can exhaustion be considered a drug? I'm not currently on any other mind-altering substances, though I'm re-evaluating that state of being. After all, my repeated observation based on observable phenomenon has concluded for myself a truth. I hesitate to call it an absolute one, because I can think of a few potential exception.


jonas 10 years, 3 months ago

"Escapee (Anonymous) says:

In the 'real' world:we call that procrastinating:."

Yes, sometimes we do, don't we?

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 3 months ago

No, Pywacket. You assume incorrectly. Slavery in 1850's America was evil then, just as it is now, because an absolute, immutable universal truth exists: it is, was and always will be immoral to enslave another person.

Truth is not subject to a date in history, to opinion, to experience or to culture. Truth is true no matter the siituation or circumstance.

I believe it is incumbent upon the thinking man to determine what is true for all people, in all cultures throughout all periods in history and then apply that truth to life. Once we determine truth, we can begin to derive ethics, morals and standards for behavior from it.

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 3 months ago

beat their butts ground them take all perks away including tv, phone, car, friends, for a time, make them get jobs and buy all that they want do not do it for them. And no I am not saying beat the holy heck out of them people.

Micah771 10 years, 3 months ago

Life is a story, it does not come at us like a math problem, says John Eldredge in his book Epic. What's Julia's story? In reading her opinion, I have to ask, is this really Julia? I don't think so. I don't think she really knows who she is? Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose for being? These are essential ethical questions that have to do with my world view.

World view refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual interprets the world and interacts in it. Some examples of world views include; theism, deism, naturalism or, humanism, nihilism, existentialism and so on. Most people don't stop to think about their world view, they just do and do and do, and, this creates a lot of do-do in their's and other's lives. A simple way to examine one's world view is to answer the above three questions.

Here's a couple of real life examples of a persistent and unfortunate trend in emerging pluralism as a world view -- narcissistic nihilism; M-TV's My Super Sweet Sixteen Birthday, and Sons of Hollywood. If you are not familiar, check it out. Then ask, who are these people? They are Julia! Now, ask yourself, what's my story? What is Truth? And how do you know without a world view?

OnlyTheOne 10 years, 3 months ago

Ethics and Teens? Heck half of 'em can't even spell it, let along define it!

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 3 months ago

credit cards are for adults and olnly those that know how to use them or not use them.

kansas778 10 years, 3 months ago

Pywacket, you aren't reading STRS's posts. Where does he say that he blindly accepts whatever the popular local belief is? He said a thinking person should determine what truth is, and derive ethics from that, not the other way around, as you assume he is saying.

verity 10 years, 3 months ago

Teenagers are in the act of becoming adults. They experiment with what they want to become and find out what does and doesn't work. That's their job. Unfortunately(?), they generally do not learn from the experiences and advice of us all-wise and experienced adults and often do things that are dangerous, stupid and inconsiderate. (Well, didn't you when you were a teenager?)

All this philosophizing about "Truth" is all very interesting and worthwhile, but I think it pretty much comes down to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And that is not as simplistic or easy as it sounds.

Micah771 10 years, 3 months ago

Yes, I agree with you, the golden rule - theistic world view, nice. I have a couple questions for you, first, who would you rather have working for you? An educated/knowledgeable experienced person that is an unethical cheater and lier? Or, a less knowledgeable but honest and hard working person? How long will it take you to train the unethical person to behave honestly? If you could. And, how long will it take you to train the honest person the tasks of the job? Should we train students to be smart or ethical. This is NOT a philosophical debate. It's about values and education and personal responsibility. I believe that if we teach our children ethics, they will teach themselves the rest.

acoupstick 10 years, 3 months ago

Training students to be ethical doesn't mean requiring an ethics class.

Micah771 10 years, 3 months ago

All children know right from wrong, then they become socialized, for better or worse. Take for example two 18 month old children and give only one a piece of cocoa and the other will cry, why? Because "it's not fair". Two hundred thousand years of evolved adaptation, (to use the post-modern humanists world view), we humans consistently demonstrate our innate values; altruism, compassion, empathy, love, conscience and sense of justice--all these things, according to evolutionary psychologists, hold society together. To use theism as the world view, God created us to love and be loved. Our battle is not with each other. Our battle is not over ethics or post-modernity or humanism. It's a battle for our hearts and souls.

Regarding the check box issue of teaching ethics in school; I was talking about we parents teaching it at home...

volunteer 10 years, 3 months ago

Chancellor Hemenway greeted the students at convocation by saying "Welcome, party animals."

A bit different from ask not what your campus can do for you. Some would say it was wrong.

Micah771 10 years, 3 months ago

I think I understand where you are coming from. Our selfish nature, right? I have two children who are grown up now. And in this study, the child that gets the cocoa, almost always, gives part to the crying child--this demonstrates both justice and altruism as core values. It's our nature to care and to share. This is called reciprocal altruism, when one cares for another for the benefit of the whole group. But then somehow, somewhere along the way our hearts are broken and we get lost. We lose touch with who we are. Who God created us to be. Are false selves show up on the scene as prideful, callous and cynical fools. Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose for being?

acoupstick 10 years, 3 months ago

"altruism, compassion, empathy, love, conscience and sense of justice" are cultural artifacts, as are pride, callousness and cynicism. They are not innate by any means. These are all learned concepts whether conciously taught or modeled by adults that children observe.

Micah771 10 years, 3 months ago

The reason I like to ask how you know what you know is, I used to think I was smart. Then I woke up. i discovered that wisdom is not about mind, it's about love and faith and trust it's a matter of the heart. Will Rogers once put it this way, "It tain't the things we don't know that make us ignorant, It's the thing we think we know that tain't so."

Micah771 10 years, 3 months ago

I see, right/wrong, good/bad, in group/out group, that's what you are saying, I'm wrong and you're right. Either/or thinking and then you go on... But you still won't say how you know what you know. From books? From experience? What kind of knowing/learning, etc. Yes, we ought to challenge assumptions and ask questions. Especially when we have a strong feeling something is not right fair or the truth here. About feelings/emotions, yours specifically, it is a strong feeling/emotion you have to react to this message thread as you have. You are passionate about this topic. That feeling is part of your story of life, which frames your world view. Rejection, broken heart, a parent abandoned you, a friend violated your dignity. Life comes at us like a story, not a math problem to be solved. What's your story? And I ask because I care.

acoupstick 10 years, 3 months ago

"Micah771 (Anonymous) says:

How do you know?"

I don't and neither do you. That is what makes this discussion interesting and entertaining. Anyone who says that they know the "Truth" or that they have the "Answers, " wants to control your money, your soul, or both.

Micah771 10 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for responding. I came on a little strong, sorry. I know what I know and I know what I don't know. I also know where to look for Truth. There are those who wound, hurt, lie, steel, cheat and then we vow to never again... This is part of our story and it sets us up for a cycle of the same thing all over again--addictions, divorce and so on. Then when we have had enough, we search for Truth again and we break this cycle by opening our hearts to trust, who, what? Is there a God? The question is, whom can we trust? I agree, there are those who are after our hearts, minds and souls--it's a battle of good and evil. We are at war, but not with each other. Many blessings to you.

acoupstick 10 years, 3 months ago

"Many blessings to you"

...............and to you.

Living a life that is productive and positive demands learning from mistakes, breaking negative cycles and replacing them with positive cycles. Do ethics guide your journey, result from your journey or both?

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