When Ethics Becomes a Way of Life
Recently in July 2018, two events happened globally to give hope and promote the triumph of the human spirit founded on the fabric of values that promote friendship, responsibility, sharing, respect, inclusion, fairness and justice. One was the international football tournament held in Russia that kept people of all ages and climes engaged and entertained for weeks, glued to their public viewing television sets, without prejudice of race, colour, creed, political party or status, watching the various football teams' play. In some cases, soldiers in war fields suspended enemy combat and any fire engagement to watch TV and enjoy soccer. Moscow and Russia, formerly leading the countries of the Soviet Union under the Iron Curtain of the Cold War era, became a home for all – with guests and football fans from all over the world sharing the hospitality, friendship, peace and freedom which can happen when people agree to simple rules around football.
The other global event was happening in South Africa as the world stood still to recall the memory of an icon and his legacy Madiba Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela with tributes, events and coverage commemorating the 100th birthday of the great son of Africa. In both, the ability of humans to transcend their woes and tragedies became apparent.
After spending 27 years of precious life in horrible and inhuman isolation on Robben Island, South Africa as a prisoner of conscience under the most brutal apartheid and racist systems of the world, Mandela emerged from prison with a heart of reconciliation and healing that surprised his oppressors and encouraged many to believe that evil has no future. Goodness has. He lived for something and stood for what he believed, willing even to die for it.
Former US President Barack Obama spoke on "renewing the Mandela legacy and creating conditions for bridging divides and resisting oppression and inequality". Messages came from all over the world with Madiba's 'Long Walk to Freedom' becoming synonymous with the triumph of the human spirit, the capacity for suffering and endurance that others may live, of victory over adversity, of patience, steadfastness and iron clad conviction that values and principles will always endure. Mandela's grandchild Ndaba Thembekile Zweliyajika, born 1982 said of his grandfather: "His conviction for all was beyond this world. He treated his cook or gardener the same way as he would treat the Pope, Mike Tyson or Barack Obama" (New African Magazine, No 585, July 2018, p. 25). A grandaughter Zamaswazi Swati Dlamini-Mandela recalled: "Grandad always used to say if you can make a difference in one person's life, then you have made an impact and have done good" (cf. op.cit, p.26).
This can happen when ethics becomes a way of life. At Globethics.net with its large network of institutions and membership around the globe, we spread the news that ethics can and should become a way of life. But ethics and character do not fall from the sky. It has to be taught at all levels form family, school and society. We at Globethics.net have pitched our tent at encouraging the teaching and integrating of ethics in higher education. Because we believe in ethical transformation beyond teaching, which is the practice and living out of values and ethics. This is happening through four programmes designed for institutions of higher education. We target the institutions, the teachers, students and professionals. These are empowered with resources of one the largest global digital libraries on ethics, specialised knowledge and training of stakeholders with customised educational materials and resources and our network of professionals and pool of experts. Globethics.net makes the point that wherever we stand in society, we can reverse the disparities of the past. Ethics, which is the process and action of doing what is right, contains and teaches the qualities of character, courage, principles, audacity, simplicity, truth, wisdom, all shared as moral authority without words. We invite all our partners, friends, networks and institutions of higher education to share the news that legacies are made when we live our values. And this is possible today.
Just before going to press, the news reached us that Dr Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and a notable and values-driven giant of international standing with enormous impact and legacies in the fields of global diplomacy, peace building, the Millennium Development Goals and international cooperation, died peacefully. Since he lived and worked in Geneva, the Globethics.net city, sharing our values and ideals for ethics across sectors, we recall our editorial that when ethics becomes a way of life, the young are inspired to act ethically. Long live the memories of Russia FIFA 2018, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan.
Prof. Dr Obiora Ike
Executive Director, Globethics.net