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Tuesday, April 3, 2012 @ 07:04 AM
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THE SEARCH FOR A JUST SOCIETY

JOHN HUDDLESTON

GEORGE RONALD                       1989

PART 19

 

Chapter 28: Preparing for a Just Society (Cont.)

The Family

Beyond the individual comes the family. As in the other great religions, the idea of family is upheld in the Bahá’í Faith, where it is seen as a basic building-block of society. Accordingly, men and women are enjoined to marry if they can find the right partner, and professional celibacy is deplored. The purpose of marriage and family is two-fold: (1) to produce children, and (2) to promote the spiritual development of all family members. Thus marriage is described as ‘a fortress of well-being and salvation’. It is within the bosom of the family that a child learns to have a loving relationship with others, and it is this habit which enables the child to have such an attitude when he or she grows up and goes out into the wider world.

Each member of the family has special rights and duties. One of the most important duties of parents is the education of their children:

It is enjoined upon the father and the mother, as a duty, to strive with all effort to train the daughter and the son, to nurse them from the breast of knowledge and to rear them in the bosom of sciences and arts. Should they neglect this matter, they shall be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of the stern Lord. This (to fail to educate a child) is a sin unpardonable, for they have made that poor babe a wanderer in the Sahara of ignorance, unfortunate and tormented; to remain during a lifetime a captive of ignorance and pride, negligent and without discernment.

Parents are responsible for all aspects of their child’s education, physical, mental and spiritual, of which the most important is the spiritual. Spiritual education should start at an early age and is then a particular responsibility of the mother because of her closeness to the child at that time in its life. Bahá’ís base their moral education on the teachings of the Faith, but children are also taught about other religions and philosophies as well, so as to increase understanding  of and sympathy with others. There is no pressure put on children to follow their parents’ faith for traditional reasons; it is recognised that each person must chooses his own philosophy of how to live. Great emphasis is also placed on that aspect of intellectual education which will be of benefit to all society:

 

Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words.

Bahá’ís try to raise their children with a balance between kindness and firmness, emphasising the encouragement of good qualities rather than focusing on faults, the father and mother trying to give a good example by their own behaviour and to be consistent. Parents should not beat their children or abuse them verbally: this will only make the children hate their home and so defeat the family’s main purpose.

In view of the importance of the family as an instrument for the creation of the just society, it is not surprising that the Bahá’í Writings provide means for ensuring the strength and lonegevity of marriage, at the core of the family. The first principle of Bahá’í marriage is monogamy, a principle clearly related to the teachings about the equality of men and women. The fact that this is the first time in history that a great religion has been specific on this issue is perhaps another indicator that the time has come when there will be no more wars: polygamy has been justified in the past by the frequent shortage of men from deaths on the battlefield.

Another group of teachings relate to the preparation for marriage. Those searching for a marriage partner are advised to look first for spiritual qualities, because though physical attraction is important that alone will not ensure a lasting marriage. The qualities to be sought are loyalty, faithfulness, honesty, trustworthiness, generosity, absence of a jealous, possessive or domineering spirit, a willingness to work hard, and a balanced attitude to family economics, that is, being neither a spendthrift nor a miser. Such a person will have the strength to successfully handle the hard times as well as the good times. A sign of maturity is a sense of humour and an ability to laugh with others, not at others. A marriage relationship has the best chance of success if each partner is appreciative, sensitive, fundamentally at one with himself or herself, and if there is an understanding that what comes out of marriage will depend very much on what is put into it.

There are two important requirements relating to the marriage ceremony. The first is that the future man and wife state: ‘We will all verily abide by the Will of God.’ This means that the marriage is a spiritual contract involving God as well as the two partners, and that each partner submits to the will of God, not one partner to the will of the other! The second requirement is that prior assent to the marriage be given by both the two individuals concerned (not always the practice in the East, even today) and by all living parents (frequently not the case in modern Western society). This law helps to better assure that the partners are well suited by widening the number of those who have to make a decision. This is a responsibility which the parents are enjoined to take seriously. The law also serves to strengthen the wider family relationship and acts as a counter to the modern narrow nuclear family, where much of the richness of real family life has been lost, to the cost especially of the children.

After marriage, the partners (and later the children) are encouraged to consult and pray together regularly and to avoid the autocratic style of family relationships which in the past has crushed both love and the spiritual development of parents and children alike. The sexual relationship between the parents is seen as a healthy and desirable means of strengthening the ties of marriage. For this reason, as well as the obvious danger of sexual promiscuity has in promoting the lower or animal side of our nature, men and women alike should confine their sexual activity to marriage. The Bahá’í view of chastity goes beyond just abstinence from the physical act to include thoughts (which can often be detected by others), manners, posture, and style of dress. Sexual promiscuity only serves to create destructive comparisons and undermines trust. Predatory sexual attitudes not only affect the marriage partners but create division and mistrust in the wider community. It should be added that homosexuality is abhorred: however, the Bahá’í attitude is not one of self-righteous condemnation, but rather one of helping, in a loving way, someone who is in need of medical assistance and has a particular problem, which if addressed resolutely will lead to great spiritual growth. Divorce is permitted in the Bahá’í Faith but is strongly discouraged. It should be considered only when there is complete aversion between the marriage partners and in the light of the teaching that those who cause a divorce bear a heavy spiritual responsibility. If, after every effort, a couple feel unable to continue a marriage, they may apply to Bahá’í institutions for a divorce which will be granted after a year of patience during which they live in separate households and final opportunities are available for reconciliation.

Collective action

The third dimension of the Bahá’í programme for a just society (to be continued)

Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 08:03 AM
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LEADERSHIP AND THE QUEST FOR INTEGRITY

JOSEPH L. BADARACCO, JR. & RICHARD R. ELLSWORTH

HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PRESS           1989

 

Back cover

“In its unique synthesis of practical experience and sound conceptual analysis, this book will provide stimulus, insight, and vision even to the accomplished and successful executive.”

Peter F. Drucker

Front cover

What distinguishes leaders from ordinary managers? The conventional answers are charisma, skill at professional management, or the ability to change one’s style to fit the situation.

This book takes a different stance, one that will challenge your personal assumptions about leadership. Drawing on extensive interviews with nationally recognized CEOs, Joseph L. Badaracco and Richard R. Ellsworth explain how certain prejudices can guide managers through the complex, rapidly changing world in which they work. In the opening chapters, they describe three distinct philosophies of leadership: political leadership, directive leadership, and values-driven leadership. Each is a consistent set of ideas about human nature, organizations, and the ways leaders should handle their daily work. But these philosophies contradict each other, forcing you to confront and rethink your own beliefs about leadership.

The conflicts among the philosophies also highlight classic managerial dilemmas – vexing problems that managers face everyday. Should a problem be solved through confrontation or compromise? When setting goals, is clarity or flexibility more important? To what extent should a decision reflect top-down or bottom-up influence? When is the way a problem is resolved more important than the solution itself? When should a leader respond to tangible, immediate pressures, or to less certain, intangible considerations?

In the second part of the book, the authors show that resolving these dilemmas is at bottom a matter of integrity: a daily quest for consistency among one’s personal beliefs, vision for an organization, and behavior. Managers who approach these issues with courage and with certain prejudices – that is, biases to handle these problems in particular ways – are on the surest path to leadership.

The executives interviewed include the current or former chief executive officers of Citicorp, Colgate-Palmolive, Conoco, Du Pont, Johnson & Johnson, Teradyne, and Time Inc. The practical experiences they share and the insights that Leadership and the Quest for Integrity provides give invaluable guidance to managers who must deal with the messy realities and trade-offs of today’s business world.

About the authors

Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr. is Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Richard R. Ellsworth is Associate Professor of Management at the Claremont Graduate School.

PART I: LEADERSHIP PHILOSOPHIES

Introduction

Why is it so hard for managers to create the kind of teams, departments, and companies that they want? Managers know what an ideal organization is. Its goals are clear, it innovates, attracts high-caliber talent, challenges them with high standards, and promotes on the basis of merit. The ideal organization is immune to bureaucracy. It is ethical and inspiring. Its economic performance is outstanding.

Few managers live and work in this ideal, ethereal realm. For most of them, daily work is a messy reality of trade-offs and dilemmas. The reason is simple. The problems and questions that reach senior managers usually cannot be answered by specialized techniques or skills. Otherwise, they would have been delegated to someone else. In real organizations, the most difficult, anxiety-provoking, and dilemma-ridden problems rise to the top.

In this world of gray areas and judgment calls, managers need guidance – some way of resolving dilemmas – in order to build the kind of organization they want. This book provides such guidance, for it is a book about leadership. It answers the question of what distinguishes the men and women who create extraordinary organizations from workaday professional managers. Managers who build records of achievement do so through the ways in which they resolve dilemmas. These are difficult issues of thought and action that test all managers and separate leaders from capable, dependable managers. They also distinguish bright, idea-driven people who merely dream from hands-on leaders who figure out how, when, and whether something should be done, and then do it.

We argue that managers are much more likely to excel if they approach their dilemmas with certain prejudices. We use “prejudice” in its literal sense. That is, we believe managers should approach dilemmas with preconceived biases toward handling them in certain ways. The rationale for these prejudices is a quest for integrity, an effort that is at once moral, philosophical, and practical – for it strives to achieve coherence among a manager’s daily actions, personal values, and basic aims for his or her organization.

This book differs greatly from much of the conventional wisdom on leadership and management. Many people believe that leadership is essentially a matter of charisma – a rare, elusive, transforming characteristic that sets leaders apart and impels others to follow them. This view is not false, but it is sorely inadequate and misleading. If leadership rests on a barely describable trait of a handful of men and women, then others must resign themselves to simply plodding forward in their appointed tasks. Worse, reducing leadership to charisma ignores the facts. The vast majority of business leaders have succeeded, not through charisma, but through experience, judgment, boldness, tenacity, and hard work. By itself, charisma is neither necessary nor sufficient for business leadership.

  • Another common view is that training in professional management can help managers achieve outstanding results. This idea waxes and wanes.
  • The performance resulting from professional management has often proved disappointing. Instead of leading to outstanding performance, its adoption has paralleled our competitive decline.

Each year, more than 60,000 MBAs graduate, thousands of managers complete executive education programs, business books detailing the latest techniques climb near the top of bestseller lists, companies spend billions of dollars on consulting fees, and thousands of executives migrate among companies. As a result, management techniques are rapidly transferred within an increasingly fluid market – and the advantage gained from applying the latest techniques is, at best, transient.

  • In their preoccupation with technique, many professional managers and business academics have made management so complicated that they miss some obvious yet critical aspects of business leadership.
  • The extraordinary success of In Search of Excellence – one of the bestselling books of all times – is powerful evidence of a certain hollowness in the notion of professional management.
  • The book’s enormous sales were a populist revolt against management theoreticians, academics and professionals.
  • Management technique is useful, sometimes critical, but it is no surrogate for leadership.
  • Along with charisma and professional management, we reject a third commonplace view of outstanding management. It may be summarized in three words: “It all depends.”

In the end, there is a single powerful reason why charisma, professional management, and style are inadequate ways for managers to approach and resolve the dilemmas they face. Resolving dilemmas involves a person’s philosophy of management. Whether they believe it or not, all managers have them. These philosophies are tacit, not explicit. The philosophies involve fundamental assumptions about human nature, about people in organizations, about the work of managers, and the kind of activities that lead to outstanding results. Like a geological deposit, these tacit philosophies build up over many years through the experiences and influences that shape a person’s life. Few managers stop, reflect on, and make explicit their philosophies of management and leadership. But these deep assumptions influence almost everything they do.

The first part of the book describes three of the most common philosophies of management. Each is an internally consistent set of assumptions about human nature, people in organizations, the work of managers, and the ways leaders should work day-by day. Each philosophy reflects traditions of thought that reach back several centuries as well as contemporary ideas raised frequently in the business press and in the MBA classrooms. Yet the philosophies clash with each other and offer conflicting advice to managers.

As you read these philosophies, you will find that they conflict with each other and raise two critical, practical questions: Does one or another of the philosophies offer better guidance to managers? How can the philosophies help managers to resolve the dilemmas they face?

In Part II, we answer these questions by analyzing five of the most important dilemmas that managers face. The first is the tension between general, flexible, open-ended approaches to problems and precise, clear approaches. The second is the top-down and bottom-up influence on important decisions. To what extent, for instance, should managers intervene in their subordinates’ activities? What role should they allow others to play in making decisions?

The third dilemma is the conflict between substance and process. Concentrating on substance means working directly to get the right answer to a problem. Concentrating on process means working on the right way of getting the answer.

The fourth dilemma, between confrontation and compromise, arises whenever conflicts occur in an organization – in other words, daily. Almost anything can be the focus of a conflict: minor issues such as who gets what office as well as major ones such as setting strategic goals.

  • Because it takes so many different forms, the last dilemma is difficult to describe in a single, short phrase. Put most succinctly, it is the tension between tangibles and intangibles.
  • In Part II, we show that managers are much more likely to achieve exceptional results if they approach their dilemmas with certain fundamental prejudices.
  • The notion of “prejudices” acknowledges the intrinsic, inescapable messiness of many of the problems managers face.
  • The prejudices that we advocate in the last part of the book are practical guides to resolving the dilemmas we have described.
  • The notion of prejudices avoids two traps into which much of the writing about business management and leadership has fallen.
  • The first trap is trying to give specific, precise rules for outstanding management.
  • The second trap is oversimplification.

Why are the prejudices we advocate the right approach? What makes them the best guide for resolving dilemmas and for thinking through the conflicting philosophies of leadership that pull managers in different directions? The answer to this question lies in understanding what integrity means for managers.

The word “integrity” is familiar but its meaning is complex. In fact, all of Part II is an explanation of the role that integrity plays in leadership. In essence, integrity is consistency between what a manger believes, how a manager acts, and a manager’s aspiration for his or her organization. But not any consistency will do. An incompetent or corrupt manager can be perfectly consistent. But certain beliefs, actions, and aspirations are much more likely than others to lead to outstanding results. The prejudices we advocate reflect these beliefs. Actions based on the prejudices simply translate these beliefs into practice – in the uncertain, often turbulent life of managers. In short, prejudices are a way of making integrity alive, powerful, and effective in a world of dilemmas and conflicting philosophies of management.

  • This argument is based upon a wide range of evidence and ideas.
  • We tested and refined our conclusions through extensive discussions with seven senior executives, each widely respected for records of achievement.

All of them had reflected on the issues raised and that is why they all contributed so greatly to the ideas in this book. Above all, they helped convince us that thinking about leadership in terms of dilemmas, prejudices, and integrity is a powerful source of guidance for managers who want to make a difference.

Chapter 1: Political Leadership

Chapter 2: Directive Leadership

Chapter 3: Values-Driven Leadership

 

PART II: INTEGRITY AND THE DILEMMAS OF LEADERSHIP

Introduction

Chapter 4: Clarity and Precision versus Flexibility

Chapter 5: Top-Down versus Bottom-Up Influence

Chapter 6: Substance versus Process

Chapter 7: Confrontation versus Compromise

Chapter 8: Tangibles versus Intangibles

Chapter 9: Integrity in Action

Bibliography

Index

Sunday, March 11, 2012 @ 07:03 AM
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THE FAMILY VIRTUES GUIDE

SIMPLE WAYS TO BRING OUT THE BEST IN OUR CHILDREN AND OURSELVES

LINDA KAVELIN POPOV

A PLUME BOOK    1997

Back cover

Bring Compassion, Generosity, and Kindness into Your Home with this Essential Guide

The most important job parents have is to pass basic virtues on to their children, and this invaluable book is designed to help make that job a little easier. Compiled by The Virtues Project, an international organization dedicated to inspiring spiritual growth in young and old alike, this multicultural, interfaith handbook shows parents and teachers how to turn words into actions and ideals into realities. Drawn from the world’s religions, the 52 virtues included here – one for each week of the year – nurture togetherness in family life. The simple strategies, which explain what a virtue is, how to practice it, and signs of success, will engage children of all ages in an exciting process of growth and discovery. This important book shows you how to:

v  Learn the language of integrity and self-esteem

v  Understand the five roles parents play

v  Discover ways to introduce sacred time into family life

v  Help children make moral choices

 

The Family Virtues Guide gives adults and children the tools for spiritual and moral growth. Join the thousands of families discovering simple practices for bringing out the best in each other by sharing The Family Virtues Guide.

Inside cover

The Family Virtues Guide is part of an initiative called The Virtues Project, whose vision is to empower adults and children in diverse cultures around the world to live by their highest values. It is not about the practices or beliefs of any one faith but is sourced in the virtues which are the common elements of spirituality found in all sacred traditions. The 52 virtues include: caring; compassion; consideration; excellence; generosity; helpfulness; humility; justice; kindness; love; modesty; respect; self-discipline; tact; tolerance; trust; unity.

Preface

Being a parent is the most complex and important activity on the planet. Parents are a child’s first and most important educators, yet they receive little or no training in what to do or how to do it. Unfortunately, children don’t come with instruction manuals.

There is a growing concern among conscientious parents that our children are caught up in materialism to the detriment of character, that they are picking up values which place personal gain before ethics, integrity, or love. Many of them have no sense of faith or spiritual values in their lives. What’s a parent to do?

  • There have been valuable efforts to fill the void of parental guidance in recent years. What has yet to be addressed in a broad way is how parents can meet the spiritual needs of children.
  • The Family Virtues Guide is part of an initiative called The Virtues Project, whose mission is to provide multicultural programs and materials which empower people to remember who they really are and to live by their highest values.
  • The principles and practices in The Family Virtues Guide are being applied in families, schools, prisons, corporations, social-service programs, child-care centers, indigenous communities, and diverse faith communities throughout the world.
  • The Family Virtues Guide is not about values. Values are culture specific. It is about virtues, which are universally valued by all faiths and cultures in the world.
  • Virtues are the silver thread running through all of humanity’s sacred literature as well as the oral traditions of the world’s indigenous peoples. Virtues are described as the qualities of the soul and the attributes of God.
  • Children are spiritual beings whose purpose in life is to have a purpose – to develop all the virtues they have within them in potential.
  • Just as children’s bodies need food, air, light, and warmth, their spirits need challenge, direction, and encouragement.
  • The Family Virtues Guide is a tool to help parents consciously and skillfully address their children’s spiritual needs.

 

A key principle of The Family Virtues Guide is that parents are the first educators, those best able to impart values and virtues to their children. The Family Virtues Guide is a response to parents who want to bring simple spirituality and character education into their children’s lives. The world needs people who are willing to take personal responsibility.

Let it be this generation.

Introduction: How to Use The Family Virtues Guide

The Family Virtues Guide is based on four key principles:

v  The parent is the primary educator of the child.

v  Children are born in potential: their natural qualities can develop into positive or negative traits depending on how they are educated in the early years.

v  Character develops as children learn to make responsible, moral choices.

v  Self-esteem is a natural outcome of living by spiritual principles.====

Naturally, you can’t help someone else grow without growing yourself. Using The Family Virtues Guide is an inner adventure for the whole family.

  • The guide is a how-to manual for applying virtues in everyday life, for supporting each other to set spiritual goals.
  • It is a guide to a simple language of spirituality – the virtues themselves. Some call it the language of the heart.
  • There are two sections in The Family Virtues Guide. The first contains three chapters about how to be a spiritual mentor to children, including suggestions in Chapter 3 for holding family meetings to focus on a virtue each week, if that is something which fits for your family.
  • It is not essential to have a formal gathering of the family to apply the principles and practices in the guide. It is only one way to focus on the virtues.
  • The second section of the book contains 52 virtues, one for each week of the year. It seemed somehow more manageable than including the more than 300 virtues we found in the world’s sacred texts.
  • Each virtue begins with a small inspirational quotation from the holy book of one of the world’s religions. Those included here are Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and the Bahá’í Faith.
  • Each virtue contains 4 pages: Page 1: What is it?; Page 2: Why practice it?; Page 3: How do you practice it? and exercises; Page 4: Signs of success and a daily affirmation.
  • Appendix A contains Group Exercises that you may find helpful in comparing notes with a friend or sharing with a small group to deepen your understanding of the practices in The Family Virtues Guide.
  • Appendix B is an outline of the practical do’s and don’ts of spiritual mentorship, from the first 3 chapters.
  • Appendix C has instructions on how to make a virtues tree felt board.
  • Appendix D contains information on The Virtues Project.
  • The Family Virtues Guide offers a simple moral structure which parents can model and within which children can build their character and self-esteem. It is no substitute for love, hugs, and family giggles, the joys of just being together.
  • However, it is a tool for parents to use in guiding and teaching their children so that the content of their character is a first priority.
  • We offer The Family Virtues Guide in a spirit of enthusiasm and confidence that you and your children will find it a valuable source of support in cultivating your virtues, the gifts within.

 

Chapter 1: Who Are Our Children, Really

The spiritual nature of children. The longing for mastery and meaning. What kids are. What kids are not. The opposititis Trap. The ‘Chip off the Old Block’ Syndrome. Isn’t love enough?

Chapter 2: What’s a parent to Do?

Parenting principles and practices in the Virtues Project.

PARENT AS EDUCATOR.

Strategy 1: Recognize teachable moments.

From Shaming to naming. Use virtues, not labels. Change Enabling to empowering. Avoid the abuse of guilt. What if your child does something really terrible? Be a teacher, not a preacher. 

Strategy 2: Speak the language of virtues.

Tap the power of language to shape culture. Tap the power of language to transform. Use virtues to acknowledge. Use virtues to correct. Name the act, not the actor. Be specific and accurate.

PARENT AS AUTHORITY

Strategy 3: Set clear boundaries

An educative model of authority. Give children R&R: Routines and Rituals. Ten guidelines for establishing family ground rules. Give choices within boundaries. Set boundaries when virtues are violated. Set boundaries to prepare children for new situations. Four principles of discipline.

PARENT AS GUIDE

Strategy 4: Honor the spirit

Share your skills. Share your family stories. Create routines of reverence. Mark special times with special rituals. What about God?

PARENT AS COUNSELOR

Strategy 5: Offer the art of spiritual companioning

What about feelings? Help children to make moral choices. Open the door. Offer Receptive Silence. Ask cup-emptying questions. Focus on sensory cues. Ask virtues-reflection questions. Ask closure and integration questions. Other virtues acknowledgements.

Chapter 3: How to Apply The Family Virtues Guide in Your Family

Introducing the virtues project to your children

Suggestions for getting started: Set a time to meet. Open with something simple and reverent. Describe the Family Virtues Guide. Set clear boundaries for sharing a circle. Choose a virtue to practice this week. Practice moderation.

How to hold a family virtues meeting: Balance creativity and order. A sample agenda. Keep it positive. Keep it simple and sacred. Practice reverence with a sharing circle. Apply creativity and joyfulness. Review the new virtue of the week. Create peacefulness with a closing ritual. Act with tact.

Virtues: The Gifts Within

Assertiveness; caring; cleanliness; compassion; confidence; consideration; courage; courtesy; creativity; detachment; determination; enthusiasm; excellence; faithfulness; flexibility; forgiveness; friendliness; generosity; gentleness; helpfulness; honesty; honor; humility; idealism; joyfulness; justice; kindness; love; loyalty; mercy; moderation; modesty; obedience; patience; peacefulness; prayerfulness; purposefulness; reliability; respect; responsibility; reverence; self-discipline; service; steadfastness; tact; thankfulness; tolerance; trust; trustworthiness; truthfulness; unity.

Scriptural References

Bibliography

Appendix A: Discussion Exercises

Appendix B: The Do’s and Don’ts of Bringing Out the Best in Our Children and Ourselves

Appendix C: How To Make a Virtues Tree Felt Board

Appendix D: Programs and Materials of the Virtues Project; World Wide Web Site

About the Authors

Sunday, March 4, 2012 @ 01:03 PM
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THE WHISTLEBLOWER

CONFESSIONS OF A HEALTHCARE HITMAN

PETER ROST MD

SOFT SKULL PRESS                     2006

www.pgw.com

PART 2

 

Chapter 3: The Art of Firing People

As the April 2003 Pfizer take-over date rapidly approached, some more Pharmacia employees received job offers from the new organization, many of whom said no thanks – but many didn’t hear anything at all from Pfizer. At the same time we silently watched as wave after wave of Pfizer managers were promoted into new positions and the level of cynicism at Pharmacia grew day by day.

As the merger loomed, those of us with managerial responsibilities were told that we needed to learn how to properly fire our subordinates.

  • By now, we really felt like cattle on our way to the slaughter chute, certain that after we had killed off our subordinates, we’d be next.

 

No crying

We were told that we needed to choose an appropriate setting for the termination meetings. If we expected trouble, we could have an “exit team” waiting around the corner, invisible to the unsuspecting target. The exit team could, if needed, carry out a screaming and panicked employee that refused to leave, I suppose.

  • It was important to note that “small talk” should be kept brief, e.g. two minutes. The presenters – by now I was thinking of them as “Terminators” – strongly suggested not waiting too long before letting the ax fall.
  • The second step was to “set the stage.”  The third step was to do the deed.
  • There were hundreds of managers in the room and you could hear a pin drop. We all waited for the next set of instructions.
  • The man at the podium explained that it was “imperative to plan and rehearse the statement that announces the separation.”
  • I thought of the day when I would have to fire Isadora Pelozzi. Perhaps I would say, “You’re being separated because you asked questions. We don’t ask questions at Pfizer.”
  • The final step was to “listen and allow time to react and ask questions.”
  • We were also instructed that company policy was not to provide any references.
  • Next we were going to learn how to handle the “difficult employees” – the ones who won’t walk docilely through the slaughter chute.

 

The very angry person

The emotional employee

 

Chapter 4: Crimes and Misdemeanors

From the beginning of my time at Pharmacia, the flagship drug of my endocrinology franchise had been Genotropin, a human growth hormone. Though we sold it for use in both short children and adults with growth hormone deficiency, the big market was children – they had to inject the drug daily for many years until they reached their adult height. A patient base like that made for stable sales that didn’t fluctuate a lot. Our only worries were our three major competitors, each with their own genetically engineered growth hormone, virtually identical to ours.

This situation resulted in an unusual practice called “rotation,” in which doctors played “eeny meeny miney mo,” giving the first patient our drug, the second patient a competitor’s drug, and so on. They did this so that they could enjoy the meetings, travel, and other incentive programs that all pharmaceutical companies provided. “Why go to an exotic resort only once a year when you can go four times?” appeared to be the general motto among physicians. This was one of my first concerns as I started my new job back in the summer of 2001. I found out that we paid for many hundreds of physicians to go to wonderful locations in the Caribbean and Mexico. Against AMA guidelines we paid their way, and we even allowed spouses to attend for a very low price. The way this was explained to me was that Pharmacia didn’t consider them to be regular doctors. They were “investigators.” Needless to say, few of them did any real studies. To become an investigator was all too simple: fill out a form with information about how much Genotropin they had given a particular patient, write down a few patient measurements, send it to Pharmacia and – voila – you’re an “investigator.” I asked Darren McAllister about this in the fall of 2001, and he told me that Pharmacia’s legal department had approved the program.

An unusual memo

Darren McAllister apparently had his own concerns about my area of responsibility, and one of the first documents he gave me was a memo he had written to all the foreign affiliates and to our U.S. sales department, with a copy to Pharmacia’s senior management. It was titled “Growth Hormone in Aging Patients.”

  • The memo stated in bold letters that “Pharmacia does not, may not and will not promote or encourage the usage of our products outside of the approved labeling.”

 

More discoveries

  • I discovered more and more details about our business that concerned me. Giving a rebate to doctors who did off-label prescriptions could be regarded as an improper incentive, which could be a violation of anti-kickback statutes.
  • I also learned that we could be even worse off if we provided free drugs. Cold chills started to creep down my spine.
  • We were giving all kinds of rebates to all kinds of centers, including doctors that specialized in anti-aging.
  • We were also giving away free drugs to virtually all new patients for the first few months, before they got approval for insurance coverage. (This was a very expensive drug costing $20,000 per year – not something patients simply picked up in a pharmacy.)

Exploring my options led to the next anomaly: 90% of our sales went to pediatric patients, and only 10% to adult patients. But our sales efforts didn’t reflect this ratio: Half our sales force focused on the adult area, and 17 of the top 20 bonus payments went to sales reps targeting the adult area.

  • Why give bonuses mainly to the sales people that generated just 10% of the business? Why push sales to the adult market? Did its potential really justify the expense?

The reason most sales went to children was that they needed very high doses, costing a lot of money, for many years. Adults on the other hand, used very low doses and often stopped treatment after only a few months. Based on the doctors who wrote adult prescriptions, dosing and length of treatment, we concluded that most of the adult sales were being prescribed for off-label anti-aging treatments.

Bonus formulas that didn’t make sense

  • We rewarded sales representative per new patient, not per sales dollar.
  • We made no money on the adult franchise.
  • It was time for some major changes in how we ran our business, and it was time to tell the Pharmacia lawyers what I had learned.

 

Criminal liability

  • One day a Pharmacia lawyer left a document on my desk. “… is guilty of an offense punishable by not more than 5 years in prison.”
  • To be a vice president would be enough to put me in a bad position if the Feds came looking at our business. I had to take action.

 

The internal investigation

  • By the time we were done, we had new people in the U.S. marketing department and had created a new sales incentive system that didn’t reward off-label sales.
  • We also stopped giving all those rebates to the anti-aging centers and all kinds of other rebates to various wholesalers and pharmacy benefit managers.
  • Genotropin sales went through the roof.
  • In 2003 Genotropin became the best performing product vs. budget, if products with sales of more than $100 million were compared. We increased sales by 46% and came in more than 30% over forecast. This was the best performance in the history of Genotropin.
  • Now we had new bosses from Pfizer, so we set out to inform them about what had been going on and perhaps get them to agree to take additional action.

 

Breaking the news to Pfizer

  • They put us in a dinky conference room, and when the last one of us had arrived, the Pfizer people joined.

I had a lot on my mind, not all of which I got a chance to discuss. After some of my U.S. marketing people had departed six months earlier, I went through their files, which were treasure troves of illegal marketing. I found contracts that paid $50,000 to individual anti-aging physicians for “consulting” services; I discovered an outfit in Canada that was going to establish business for these physicians, to which we paid a $10,000 monthly retainer. Sales people came forward telling us how they had been forced to do off-label promotion. One salesperson in Chicago had been terminated because he had refused. In the years past, Pharmacia had conducted an annual ethics certification of our sales reps and many had stated that they had been forced to do off-label promotion. It was bad, really bad, and I wasn’t sure if Pharmacia’s legal department had done everything it could.

Pens on fire

What really scared Pfizer were the business practices still in place at Pharmacia, the ones I had warned Pharmacia’s legal department about, but that they hadn’t stopped. We divulged the “investigator” meetings and Caribbean trips and we described the program that supplied everyone with free drugs for several months, which could easily be seen as an inducement to off-label sales. We called this the Bridge program, since it bridged the time period until the patient got reimbursement from his insurance company with free drugs, and though fundamentally this was a well-meaning program, it could be abused. All of us had a strong incentive to explain what we had done to stop inappropriate practices, since we didn’t want to be associated with any of this.

A promise

  • I didn’t just have legal issues on my mind during this time period; most of all I was concerned about my own future.
  • The response came back very quickly from Pfizer’s new Senior Vice President for Global Marketing. “There is no issue whatsoever on our side with your being considered for several positions.”
  • While I didn’t have a specific job offer in my hand yet, things were moving in the right direction, and I started to feel comfortable.

 

Pharmacia’s CEO receives a warning

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 @ 03:01 AM
posted by admin

THE SEARCH FOR A JUST SOCIETY

JOHN HUDDLESTON

GEORGE RONALD                       1989

PART VII

 

Chapter 7: Greece and the Rational Philosophers

The spotlight now switches westward to Greece, like Israel a relatively small society when compared to the great empires of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Iran, India, and China. Like Israel too, its special contributions to the heritage of the just society were its ideas and experience: accountability to government and the theme of freedom and democracy. It is perhaps no coincidence that later in history these themes were to be further developed in other small-scale societies, such as Switzerland in the Middle Ages and the Netherlands in the 16th century, before beginning to flourish in the 18th and 19th centuries in the larger countries such as Great Britain, France and the United States.

The earliest known Greek civilization was the Minoan, centred in Crete (though with subsidiary colonies on the mainland) from about 1900 to about 1400 BC. These were not rich agricultural lands and the Minoans, like the Greek societies which succeeded them, acquired a certain toughness from the struggle to survive through the cultivation of marginal land (they were the first to develop the vine and the olive) and through sea trade. A second Greek civilization was that of the Mycenaeans during the 15th and 14th centuries BC. It arose from a mixing of the original inhabitants of the peninsular with invading barbarians from the north, spread all around the Aegean coast and islands, and established the city of Troy in modern-day Turkey. The third Greek civilization developed after another wave of invasions from the north by the Doric and Ionian peoples. This society gradually crystallized in the 7th century BC into a series of small city states of which the most important, in the perspective of history, were to be Sparta and Athens. Both of these states were to make significant contributions to the heritage of the just society.

Sparta had two outstanding virtues. Its people put great emphasis on physical and mental fitness and self-discipline, and thus became amongst the best soldiers in the world. Their discipline and skills made it possible for them to execute complex manoeuvres in the field, enabling them to defeat armies far larger than their own. (Though it was the Spartans who became a byword for this characteristic, physical fitness had been cultivated by all the Greek states as far back as 776 BC when the annual competition of the Olympic Games first began.) The second Spartan virtue was their simple, communal style of living and the absence in their city of many normal temptations. It is of interest that they had an iron coinage and that for a long period their wars were purely for self-defence and they did not attempt to set up colonies as did Athens and other states.

The attractive qualities of the Spartans were balanced by two major weaknesses. First, their society rested to a large extent on the exploitation of a lower class of near-slaves (helots) and their society tended to be tense and harshly militaristic as a consequence of the perpetual fear of a violent uprising. Second (and perhaps not unconnected with the first), Sparta was, by sharp contrast with Athens, a closed-minded society ruled by a council of old men which did not respond well to discussion of ideas nor, in the long run, to changing conditions.

In its earliest days Athens was ruled by a king but the monarchy was soon replaced, as in several other Greek states, by a council of hereditary aristocracy (the Eupatridae) which took over most of the ownership of the land. Popular discontent with this arrangement led to the dominance in the 6th century of a series of tyrants who in turn were eventually replaced by a new system of representative government designed by Cleisthenes. One of the leaders of the opposition to the tyrants, Cleisthenes is considered the founder of Athenian democracy (c. 500 BC). Under the new constitution a direct participation assembly (ecclesia) was established for the first time, based on ten districts which cut across the old diverse tribal lines, and on wide participation including resident aliens and emancipated slaves. The ten districts each had fifty representatives on a council of five hundred (bouje) which prepared the agenda of the assembly and supervised the magistrates. Being somewhat unwieldy in size, the council operated by delegating day-to-day affairs to an Executive Committee of fifty whose membership was rotated between the ten delegations. The assembly also elected a court of nine magistrates, each of whom was responsible for a specialized function of the state. To provide a means of removing future tyrants without violence, the device of ostracism was introduced.

  • The new system gave considerable power to the assembly and encouraged genuine debate on issues, which resulted in decisions being made on the merits of an argument rather than on the basis of the interests and individuals involved.
  • It was during the period of early Athenian democracy that Greek civilization reached its peak.
  • Cities united in defence against invasion by the Persians and successfully defeated them at the battles of Marathon (490 BC), Thermopylae (480 BC) and Salamis (480 BC).
  • Democratic Athens, like Sparta, suffered many weaknesses: it practised slavery like every other society of the time (though less harshly than in many later societies); women were treated as second-class citizens; though in theory the assembly was open to attendance by all free men, only about one-eighth attended.
  • Greed and the lack of perspective in the democracy led to corruption; the establishment of overseas colonies; and attempts to dominate the other Greek states.
  • The latter characteristic resulted in a disastrous campaign to capture the Sicilian city of Syracuse (415-413 BC). In the bitterness that followed Athens executed its most distinguished citizen, the religious and highly-principled Socrates, on charges of atheism and corruption of youth.
  • In the 4th century, the city democracies fell under the domination of the Macedonian monarchy, remembered principally for the extraordinary military victories of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC).
  • As a result of Alexander’s campaigns there was an intensification of the process of cross-fertilization of the great cultures of Greece and the Middle East.
  • For several hundred years the Greek language became a useful ‘lingua franca’ for most of the world west of India.
  • These developments have undoubtedly contributed to the richness of the world’s cultural heritage.

Though Athens’s experiences with democracy were a major contribution to the growth of the idea of the just society, undoubtedly more influential in the wider perspective was its intellectual life, unprecedented in its depth and scope. It vastly strengthened man’s appreciation of rational thought as a means for the advancement of civilization and protection against superstition and prejudice. It brought into sharp focus the complexity and beauty of the universe and the humanity of man. Of special significance were the great tragic poets, Aeschylus (525-452 BC), Sophocles (496-405 BC) and Euripides (480-406 BC), who, building on the literary traditions of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, illuminated the depth of human character and in particular showed how pride and self can bring even the greatest men to disaster. Aristophanes (450-358 BC) in his comedies added a new dimension with universal implications to the discussion of public affairs by inviting laughter at various aspects of the political and social life of the city. The fifth-century historians Herodotus and Thucydides in their respective annals of the Persian wars and the disastrous Peloponnesian civil war, set new standards for historical scholarship and intellectual objectivity for the world to follow, and a new dimension to the understanding of society. There were also great scientists, mathematicians, and engineers: Euclid, Archimedes, Eratosthenes (who worked out the size of the earth) and Hero (inventor of the first steam engine), whose use of observation and logic so enlarged man’s understanding of the natural world. One who stands out in the present context was Hippocrates (460-377 BC) who gathered together most of the medical knowledge of the time and contributed to man’s ethical life the famous oath which bears his name:

The regimen I adopt shall be for the benefit of my patients according to my ability and judgment, and not for their hurt or for any wrong. What so ever things I see or hear concerning the life of men, in my attendance on the sick or even apart therefrom, which ought not to be noised abroad, I will keep silence thereon, counting such things to be sacred secrets.

But towering above the rest were the philosophers: Socrates (470-399 BC), Plato (428-348 BC) and Aristotle (384-322 BC). In his youth Socrates had been a soldier, like others of his class. Unlike many of them, and despite his interest in public affairs, he did not become involved in politics, although many politicians sought his advice. He cared nothing for material possessions, spending most of his later years teaching in the streets and squares of Athens, wearing the same clothes year after year. He was both a mystic and a logician, a man of humour and modesty who tried to raise the ethical standards of Athens by rational argument and personal example. He believed that the care of the soul came before that of the physical body and argued the case for an absolute morality. He was a strong patriot, but believed that it was the state’s duty to put first the development in its citizens of their good qualities rather than their immediate material desires. He pointed out two major defects in Athenian democracy. First, it did not require that its leaders be educated in moral philosophy. Second, in consultation it tended to give equal weight to all opinions and there was no way of distinguishing those that were moral (and therefore in the real interest of the citizenry) from those what were not.

Plato, though not a pupil of Socrates, was a strong supporter of his general point of view. He too cared deeply about the affairs of state, but was disillusioned with politics itself and generally avoided it, except for giving advice to the rulers of Syracuse. Most of his life was spent working for the Academy he founded, the centre of Athens’s intellectual life in the 4th century BC. In discussing the various types of government, he rejected the military model because it is inclined to take action for its own sake, rather than thinking through the consequences; he rejected the aristocratic model because it merely looked after the interests of the rich and powerful; and he rejected the democratic model because of its irresponsibility and tendency to be intolerant (an example being the persecution of Socrates). He concluded that the best form of government was an aristocratic one based on merit. His ideal state, which he described in the Republic, would have rulers who had been given a thorough training in all branches of education. He believed that justice would prevail when every person in society carried out the function for which he was best suited. There should be a minimum of private property. He was so preoccupied with the need for order that, perhaps strangely for a thinker, he advocated communal censorship.

Aristotle was in his youth a pupil of Plato at the Academy, and in his middle age he was the tutor of Alexander before he became Emperor. In his Ethics he stressed the golden mean, moderation between asceticism and sensuality, and pointed to the value of good habit and meditation. In his Politics he touched on nearly all the lasting issues that pertain to social organisation. He argued forcibly that government is there only to serve the interests of the people; like all organisations and individuals it must be subject to the law, which is sovereign. Rulers are accountable to the people. He thought the city state the best form of government.

There were many other schools of philosophy at the time. There were, for example, Diogenes (412-323 BC) and the Cynics, whose reactions to the problems of the time were essentially negative: unbridled criticism and begging as a way to keep body and soul together. More interesting was the philosophy of Zeno (342-278 BC) and the Stoics who advocated acceptance of life with equanimity, and the practice of virtue for its own sake. One interesting aspect of the Stoic philosophy was that in recognizing the equality of all men it condemned the institution of slavery. Certain Stoic philosophical ideas were later to resurface in Christianity; the movement was also viewed with favour by many Romans, including the noblest Emperor of them all, Marcus Aurelius.

Chapter 8: Pax Romana

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 @ 11:11 AM
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ETHICS FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM

HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA

RIVERHEAD BOOKS                    1999

PART VII

Chapter 7: The Ethic of Virtue

I have suggested that if we are to be genuinely happy, inner restraint is indispensable. We cannot stop at restraint, however. Though it may prevent us from performing any grossly negative misdeeds, mere restraint is insufficient if we are to attain the happiness which is characterized by inner peace. In order to transform ourselves – our habits and dispositions – so that our actions are compassionate, it is necessary to develop what we might call an ethic of virtue. As well as refraining from negative thoughts and emotions, we need to cultivate and reinforce our positive qualities. What are these positive qualities? Our basic human, or spiritual qualities.

  • After compassion (nying je) itself, the chief of these is what in Tibetan we call sö pa, or “patience” though its literal meaning is “able to bear” or “able to withstand.”
  • Sö pa is what provides us with the strength to resist suffering and protects us from losing compassion even for those who would harm us.
  • Lopon-la was one of thousands of monks and officials imprisoned by the occupying forces, endured grievous treatment, been subjected to “re-education”, forced to denounce his religion, and, on many occasions tortured as well.
  • When I asked him whether he had ever been afraid, he admitted that there was one thing that had scared him: the possibility that he might lose compassion and concern for his jailers.

Hearing Lopon-la’s story confirmed what I had always believed. It is not just a person’s physical constitution, nor their intelligence, nor their education, nor even their social conditioning which enables them to withstand hardship. Much more significant is their spiritual state. And while some may be able to survive through sheer willpower, the ones who suffer the least are those who attain a high level of sö pa.

  • When a person develops sö pa more, there comes composure in adversity, a sense of being unperturbed, reflecting a voluntary acceptance in pursuit of a higher, spiritual, aim.
  • Sö pa is the means by which we practice true non-violence. It is what enables us not only to refrain from physical reactions when we are provoked, but it enables us to let go of our negative thoughts and emotions too.

We cannot speak of sö pa when we give in to someone yet we do so grudgingly or resentfully. The essence of sö pa is resolute forbearance in the face of adversity. In other words, the one who practices patient forbearance is determined not to give in to negative impulses (which are experienced as afflictive emotion in the form of anger, hatred, desire for revenge, and so on) but rather counters their sense of injury and does not return harm for harm.

  • Sö pa should not be confused with mere passivity. There are times in everyone’s life when harsh words – or even physical intervention – may be called for.
  • But since it safeguards our inner composure, sö pa means we are in a stronger position to judge an appropriately non-violent response.
  • This is the very opposite of cowardice. Cowardice arises when we lose all confidence as a result of fear.
  • Patient forbearance means that we remain firm even if we are afraid.
  • Nor, when I speak of acceptance, do I mean that we should not do everything in our power to solve our problems whenever they can be solved.
  • Acceptance can help ensure that the experience is not compounded by the additional burden of mental and emotional suffering.

Patient forbearance, then, is the quality which enables us to prevent negative thoughts and emotions from taking hold of us. It safeguards our peace of mind in the face of adversity. Through practicing patience in this way, our conduct is rendered ethically wholesome. As we have seen, the first step in ethical practice is to check our response to negative thoughts and emotions as they arise. The next step – what we do after applying the breaks – is to counter that provocation with patience.

  • One of the best ways to begin familiarizing ourselves with the virtue of patience, or sö pa, is by taking time to reflect systematically on its benefits. It is the source of forgiveness.
  • When we develop the ability patiently to forebear, we find that we develop a proportionate reserve of calmness and tranquillity. This, in turn, creates a positive atmosphere around us so that it is easy for others to relate to us.
  • We find that not only do we become much stronger mentally and spiritually, but we tend also to be healthier physically. I attribute the good health I enjoy to a generally calm and peaceful mind.
  • But the most important benefit of sö pa, or patience, consists in the way it acts as a powerful antidote to the affliction of anger – the greatest threat to our inner peace, and therefore our happiness. Indeed, we find that patience is the best means we have of defending ourselves internally from anger’s destructive effects.
  • The mind or spirit is not physical. It cannot be touched or harmed directly. Only negative thoughts and emotions can harm it. Therefore, only the corresponding positive quality can protect it.
  • It is very helpful to think of adversity not so much as a threat to our inner peace of mind but rather as the very mean by which patience is attained.
  • Those who would harm us are, in a sense, teachers of patience. From adversity we can learn the value of patient forbearance. Those who would harm us give us unparalleled opportunities to practice disciplined behavior.
  • The appropriate response to someone who causes us to suffer is to recognize that in harming us, ultimately they lose their peace of mind, their inner balance, and thereby their happiness.

For every negative state, we find that we can identify one which opposes it. For example, humility opposes pride; contentment opposes greed; perseverance opposes indolence. If, therefore, we wish to overcome the suffering which arises when negative thoughts and emotions are allowed to develop, cultivating virtue should not be seen as separate from restraining our response to them. They go hand in hand. This is why ethical discipline cannot be confined either to mere restraint or to mere affirmation of positive qualities.

  • The first step in overcoming anxiety is to develop a proper perspective of our situation. One of the most effective ways is to try to shift attention away from self and toward others.
  • When we succeed in this we find that the scale of our own problems diminishes.
  • We should not ignore our own needs altogether, but we should try to remember others’ needs alongside our own, no matter how pressing ours may be.
  • We find that almost all the mental and emotional suffering which is such a feature of modern living – including the sense of hopelessness, of loneliness, and so on – lessens the moment we begin to engage in actions motivated by concern for others.

What though, of those occasions when we find our whole lives unsatisfactory, or when we feel on the point of being overwhelmed by our suffering – as happens to us all in varying degrees from time to time? When this occurs, it is vital that we make every effort to find a way of lifting our spirits. We can do this by recollecting our good fortune. We may, for example, be loved by someone; we may have certain talents; we may have received a good education; we may have our basic needs provided for – food to eat, clothes to wear, somewhere to live – we may have performed certain altruistic deeds in the past. Not unlike a banker who collects interest even on the smallest amounts of money he has out on loan, we must take into consideration even the slightest positive aspect of our lives. For if we fail to find some way of uplifting ourselves, there is every danger of sinking further into our sense of powerlessness. This can lead us to believe that we have no capacity for doing good whatsoever. Thus we create the conditions of despair itself. At that point, suicide may seem the only option.

  • In most cases of hopelessness and despair, we find that it is the individual’s perception of their situation rather that its reality which is the issue.
  • What else might an ethic of virtue consist in? As a general principle, it is essential to avoid extremes. We find that even noble causes when carried to extremes can become a source of harm.
  • It is also important to realize that transforming the mind and heart so that our actions become spontaneously ethical requires that we put the pursuit of virtue at the heart of our daily lives.
  • This is because love and compassion, patience, generosity, humility, and so on are all complementary. And because it is so difficult to eradicate afflictive emotion, it is necessary that we habituate ourselves to their opposites even before negative thoughts and emotions arise.
  • Giving is recognized as a virtue in every major religion and in every civilized society, and it clearly benefits both the giver and the receiver.
  • When we give with the underlying motive of inflating the image others have of us – to regain renown and have them think of us as virtuous or holy – we defile the act. We are practicing not generosity but self-aggrandizement.
  • Though not a substitute, giving of our time and energy may represent a somewhat higher order of giving than making gifts. Here I am thinking especially of the gift of service to those with mental or physical disabilities, to the homeless, to those who are lonely, to those in prison and those who have been in prison.
  • The most compassionate form of giving is when it is done without any thought or expectation of reward, and grounded in genuine concern for others.
  • To say that humility is an essential ingredient in our pursuit of transformation may seem to be at odds with what I have said about the need for confidence.
  • It is important to distinguish between genuine humility, which is a species of modesty, and a lack of confidence.
  • Today humility is often thought of as a weakness rather than as an indication of inner strength – especially in the context of business and professional life.

Yet in contemporary life, humility is more important than ever. The more successful we humans become, both as individuals and as a family through our development of science and technology, the more essential it becomes to preserve humility. For the greater our temporal achievements, the more vulnerable we become to pride and arrogance.

  • If humility is not to be confused with lack of confidence, still less has it anything to do with a sense of worthlessness.
  • We all have the capacity for empathy. We all, therefore, have the potential to engage in wholesome conduct even if this only takes the form of positive thoughts.
  • To suppose ourselves worthless is simply incorrect.
  • It is helpful to develop an attitude of regret and repentance. While it is natural and to be expected that we should have feelings of discomfort in relation to our past misdeeds, there is sometimes an element of self-indulgence when this is extended to feelings of guilt.
  • Rather than stopping at mere sorrow and regret, it is important to use this as the basis for resolve, for a deep-seated commitment never again to harm others and to direct our actions all the more determinedly to the benefit of others.
  • The act of disclosure, or confession, of our negative actions to another – especially to someone we really respect and trust – will be found very helpful in this.
  • Above all, we should remember that as long as we retain the capacity of concern for others, the potential for transformation remains.
  • It is important not to allow ourselves to be put off by the magnitude of others’ suffering. The misery of millions is not a cause for pity. Rather it is a cause for developing compassion.
  • Transformation comes little by little, just as a building is constructed brick by brick.
  • Dealing with the afflictive emotions is a lifelong struggle. What we are talking about is gaining an experience of virtue through constant practice and familiarization so that it becomes spontaneous. Eventually, it will become second nature. But there are no shortcuts.
  • Far more effective than short bursts of heroic effort followed by periods of laxity is to work steadily like a stream flowing toward our goal of transformation.

Making a habit of concern for others’ well-being, and spending a few minutes on waking in the morning reflecting on the value of conducting our lives in an ethically disciplined manner, is a good way to start the day no matter what our beliefs or lack of them. The same is true of taking some time at the end of each day to review how successful in this we have been. Such a discipline is very helpful in developing our determination not to behave self-indulgently.

It is self-evident that a generous heart and wholesome actions lead to greater peace. And it is equally clear that their negative counterparts bring undesirable consequences. Happiness arises from virtuous causes. If we truly desire to be happy, there is no other way to proceed but by way of virtue: it is the method by which happiness is achieved. And, we might add, that the basis of virtue, its ground, is ethical discipline.

Chapter 8: The Ethic of Compassion

 

Monday, October 31, 2011 @ 05:10 AM
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THE ECONOMICS OF INNOCENT FRAUD

J.K. GALBRAITH

PENGUIN BOOKS              2004/2005

PART I

 

Back cover

A lifelong critic of unbridled corporate power and the most widely read economist of the 20th century, the legendary Harvard professor J.K. Galbraith has been published by Penguin for more than 40 years. His latest book, The Economics of Innocent Fraud, published here in paperback for the first time, is a vigorous polemic that reveals the unacknowledged grip of the private sector on public life and considers our increasing tendency to accept blindly legal, legitimate, ‘innocent’ fraud.

Introduction and a Personal Note

For some 70 years my working life has been concerned with economics, along with not infrequent departures to public and political service that had an economic aspect and one tour in journalism. During that time I have learned that to be right and useful, one must accept divergence between approved belief – what I have elsewhere called conventional wisdom – and the reality. And in the end, not surprisingly, it is the reality that counts. This small book is the result of many years of encountering, valuing and using this distinction, and it is my conclusion that reality is more obscured by social or habitual preference and personal or group pecuniary advantage in economics and politics than in any other subject. Nothing has more captured my thought, and what follows is a considered view of this difference.

A lesser point: Central to my argument here is the dominant role in modern economic society of the corporation and of the passage of power in that entity from its owners, the stockholders, now more graciously called investors, to the management. Such is the dynamic of corporate life. Management must prevail.

As I was working on these pages, there came the great breakout in corporate power and theft with the unanticipated support of cooperative and corrupt accounting. Enron I had noticed as an example of my case; there were to be more in the headlines. Perhaps I should have been grateful; there are few times when an author can have such affirmation of what he or she has written. The corporate scandals, as they are now called, dominated the news because of exceptionally competent and detailed reporting. I forgo repetition here. I do, however, make reference to the restraints to which managerial authority must now be subject, but these are a small part of the story. More to be told is of the longer and larger departure from reality of approved and conditioned belief in the economic world.

Dealt with in this essay is how, out of pecuniary and political pressures and fashions of the time, economics and larger economic and political systems cultivate their own version of the truth. This last has no necessary relation to reality. No one is especially at fault; what it is convenient to believe is greatly preferred. This is something of which all who have studied economics, all who are now students and all who have some interest in economic and political life should be aware. It is what serves, or is not adverse to, influential economic, political and social interest.

Most progenitors of what I here intend to identify as innocent fraud are not deliberately in its service. They are unaware of how their views are shaped, how they are had. No clear legal question is involved. Response comes not from violation of law but from personal and social belief. There is no serious sense of guilt; more likely, there is self-approval.

This essay is not a totally solemn exercise. A marked enjoyment can be found in identifying self-serving belief and contrived nonsense. So it has been for the author and so he hopes it will be for the reader.

Chapter 1: The Nature of Innocent Fraud

This treatise must, at the outset, contend with a seeming and severe contradiction: How can fraud be innocent? How can innocence be fraudulent? The answer is of no slight significance, for innocent, lawful fraud has an undoubted role in private life and public discourse. However, by neither those so believing nor those so guiding is there spoken recognition of that fact. There is, to emphasize, no sense of guilt or responsibility.

  • Some of this fraud derives from traditional economics and its teaching and some from the ritual views of economic life.
  • These can strongly support individual and group interest and can achieve the respectability and authority of everyday knowledge.
  • This is not the contrivance of any individual or group but represents the natural, even righteous view of what best serves personal or larger interest.
  • What prevails in real life is not the reality but the current fashion and the pecuniary interest.
  • When capitalism, the historic reference, ceased to be acceptable, the system was renamed. The new term was benign but without meaning. To this I now turn.

 

Chapter 2: The Renaming of the System

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 @ 07:10 PM
posted by admin

ETHICS FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM

HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA

RIVERHEAD BOOKS                    1999

PART VI

 

PART II: ETHICS AND THE INDIVIDUAL

Chapter 6: The Ethic of Restraint

I have suggested that developing the compassion on which happiness depends demands a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, we need to restrain those factors which inhibit compassion. On the other, we need to cultivate those which are conducive to it. As we have seen, what is conducive to compassion is love, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and so on. What inhibits compassion is the lack of inner restraint which we have identified as the source of all unethical conduct. We find that by transforming our habits and dispositions, we can begin to perfect our over-all state of heart and mind (kun long) – that from which all our actions spring.

The first thing, then – because the spiritual qualities conducive to compassion entail positive ethical conduct – is to cultivate a habit of inner discipline. Now I cannot deny that this is a major undertaking, but at least we are familiar with the principle. For example, knowing its destructive potential, we restrain both ourselves and our children from indulging in drug abuse. However, it is important to recognize that restraining our response to negative thoughts and emotions is not a matter of just suppressing them: insight into their destructive nature is crucial. Merely being told that envy, potentially a very powerful and destructive emotion, is negative cannot provide a strong defense against it. If we order our lives externally but ignore the inner dimension, inevitably we will find that doubt, anxiety, and other afflictions develop, and happiness eludes us. This is because, unlike physical discipline, true inner – or spiritual – discipline cannot be achieved by force but only through voluntary and deliberate effort based on understanding. In other words, conducting ourselves ethically consists in more than merely obeying laws and precepts.

  • By transforming our habits and dispositions we can begin to perfect our overall state of heart and mind – that from which all our actions spring. We need to cultivate a habit of inner discipline. The undisciplined mind is like a rampaging elephant because negative impulses of the mind can bring about destruction and cause lasting pain.
  • We can conceive the nature of mind in terms of the water in a lake which is stirred by a storm so that the mud from the lake’s bottom clouds it, making it appear opaque. When the storm passes, the mud settles and the water is left clear once again.
  • Our mind consists of a spectrum of events and experiences, including our sensory perception and mental and emotional states but we do not have to be controlled by emotions – some give good advice and some bad; some have the well-being of others as their principal concern while others have their own narrow interests.
  • The responsibility of the main consciousness – the leader – is to determine the good and reliable advice and to act on it. We are all familiar with the way in which the whole atmosphere is spoiled when just one member of the household is in a bad mood. Sometimes turbulence is so strong we lash out at others, externalising our inner turbulence.
  • A moment of sorrow does not become disabling grief unless we hold onto it and add negative thoughts and imaginings. Negative thoughts and emotions – hatred, anger, pride, lust, greed, envy, etc. – can be so strong that if we do nothing to counter them they can lead us to madness or even suicide.
  • They are the source of unethical conduct and the basis of anxiety, confusion and stress, which are such a feature of our lives today.
  • The undisciplined mind under the influence of anger, hatred, greed, pride, selfishness so on, is the source of all our troubles which do not fall into the category of unavoidable suffering. (sickness, old age, death, and so on).
  • Our failure to check our response to the afflictive emotions opens the door to suffering for both self and others.
  • When a person lives a very selfish life, without concern for others’ welfare they tend to be lonely and miserable, surrounded by friends of their wealth or status who disappear at times of tragedy.
  • Conversely, we find that when people are actively concerned for others, they are much respected, even venerated. When such people die, many mourn and regret their passing. Consider the case of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • We need to pay close attention and be aware of our body and its actions, of our speech and what we say, and of our hearts and minds and what we think and feel.
  • We must be on the lookout for the slightest negativity and keep asking ourselves such questions as, “Am I happier when my thoughts and emotions are negative and destructive or when they are wholesome?” “What is the nature of consciousness? Does it exist in and of itself, or does it exist in dependence on other factors?” We need to think, think, think.
  • We should be like a scientist who collects data, analyses it, and draws the appropriate conclusion. Gaining insight into our own negativity is a lifelong task, and one which is capable of almost infinite refinement. But unless we undertake it, we will be unable to see where to make the necessary changes in our lives.
  • Negative thoughts and emotions not only destroy our experience of peace, they also undermine our health. Afflictive emotions destroy one of our most precious qualities – our capacity for discriminative awareness.
  • Robbed of what enables us to judge between right and wrong, to elevate what is likely to be of lasting benefit and what of merely temporary benefit to self and others, and to discern the likely outcome of our actions, we are no better than animals.
  • Afflictive emotions deceive us because they seem to offer satisfaction but do not provide it. Decisions taken under its influence are often a source of regret.
  • The individual whose activities are directed principally by afflictive emotions, by gross attachments and aversions – greed, arrogant ambition, and so forth – may become powerful and famous but after they die their power is gone and their fame no more than an empty word. So what have they achieved?
  • Nowhere is the uselessness of afflictive emotions more obvious than in anger – we stop being compassionate, loving, generous, forgiving, tolerant and patient and deprive ourselves of the very things that happiness consists in.
  • Not only does anger destroy our critical faculties but it tends toward rage, spite, hatred and malice each of which is negative as it is a cause of harm for others.
  • It do not deny that, as in the case of fear, there is a kind of ‘raw’ anger that we experience more as a rush of energy than as a cognitively enhanced emotion. Conceivably, this form of anger could have positive consequences. It is not impossible to imagine anger at the sight of injustice which causes someone to act altruistically.
  • The anger that causes us to go to the assistance of someone who is being attacked in the street could be characterized as positive. But if this goes beyond meeting the injustice, if it becomes personal and turns into vengefulness or maliciousness, then danger arises.
  • If we are to retain our peace of mind and thereby our happiness, it follows that alongside a more rational and disinterested approach to our negative thoughts and emotions, we must cultivate a strong habit of restraint in response to them.
  • Negative thoughts and emotions are what cause us to act unethically. Furthermore, because afflictive emotion is also the source of our own internal suffering – in that it is the basis of frustration, confusion, insecurity, anxiety, and the very loss of self-respect which undermines our sense of confidence – failure to do so means that we will remain in a state of perpetual mental and emotional discomfort. Inner peace will be impossible. In place of happiness there will be insecurity. Anxiety and depression will never be far away.
  • It is totally illogical to seek happiness if we do nothing to restrain angry, spiteful, and malicious thoughts and emotions. To say that we need to curb anger and negative thoughts and emotions does not mean we should try to deny and suppress our feelings – the individual stores up anger and resentment and at some future point they cannot contain these feelings any longer.
  • What obstructs us from engaging in compassionate conduct is afflictive emotions.
  • We are not talking about attaining Buddhahood here, we are not talking about achieving union with God. We are merely recognizing that my interests and future happiness are closely connected to others’ and learning to act accordingly. 

 

Chapter 7: The Ethic of Virtue

Thursday, October 20, 2011 @ 08:10 AM
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ETHICS FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM

HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA

RIVERHEAD BOOKS                    1999

PART V

 

Chapter 5: The Supreme Emotion

On a recent trip to Europe, I took the opportunity to visit the site of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. Even though I had heard and read a great deal about this place, I found myself completely unprepared for the experience. My initial reaction to the sight of the ovens in which hundreds of thousands of human beings were burned was one of total revulsion. I was dumfounded at the sheer calculation and detachment from feeling to which they bore horrifying testimony.

  • I stopped and prayed – moved profoundly both for the victims and for the perpetrators of this iniquity – that such a thing would never happen again.
  • In the knowledge that just as we all have the capacity to act selflessly out of concern for others’ well-being, so do we all have the potential to be murders and torturers, I vowed never in any way to contribute to such a calamity.
  • Events such as those which occurred at Auschwitz are violent reminders of what can happen when individuals – and by extension, whole societies – lose touch with basic human feeling.
  • Although it is necessary to have legislation and international conventions in place as safeguards against future disasters of this kind, we have all seen that atrocities continue in spite of them.
  • Much more effective and more important than such legislation is our regard for another’s feelings at a simple human level – the capacity to empathize with another – and the inability to bear the sight of another’s suffering.
  • Alongside our natural ability to empathize with others, we also have a need for other’s kindness, which runs like a thread throughout our whole life.
  • It is most apparent when we are young and when we are old. But we only have to fall ill to be reminded of how important it is to be loved and cared about even during our prime years.
  • Though it may seem a virtue to be able to do without affection, in reality a life lacking this precious ingredient must be a miserable one. We see this appreciation of kindness reflected in our response to the human smile – one of our most beautiful characteristics.
  • Consider the relationship between peace – the fruit of love – and good health. Our constitution is more suited to peace and tranquillity than to violence and aggression. Peace, tranquillity and other’s care are essential to recovery from illness. Peace suggests life and growth while violence suggest misery and death.
  • This is why the idea of a Pure Land, or of Heaven, attracts us. If such a place were described in terms of unending warfare and strife, we would much rather remain in this world. Our nature prefers life over death, growth over decay, construction over destruction.
  • Our innate capacity for empathy is the source of the most precious of all human qualities, which in Tibetan we call nying je a term which also connotes love, affection, kindness, gentleness, generosity of spirit, and warm-heartedness.
  • It is also used as a term of both sympathy and of endearment, but there is no sense of condescension. It denotes a feeling of connection with others, reflecting its origins in empathy.
  • We can understand nying je in terms of a combination of empathy and reason. We can think of empathy as the characteristic of a very honest person; reason as that of someone who is very practical. When the two are put together, the combination is highly effective.
  • The more we develop compassion, the more genuinely ethical our conduct will be. When we act out of concern for others, our behavior toward them is automatically positive.
  • This gives rise to strong feelings of confidence. I find that whenever I meet new people and have this positive disposition, there is no barrier between us. I can speak to them as old friends, even at our first meeting.
  • Ultimately we are all brothers and sisters and there is no substantial difference between us.
  • When we act out of concern for others, the peace this creates in our own hearts brings peace to everyone we associate with. We bring peace to the family, to friends, to the work place, to the community and to the world. Friendships come about not as the result of bullying but compassion.

The world’s major religious traditions each give the development of compassion a key role. Because it is both the source and the result of patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and all good qualities, its importance is considered to extend from the beginning to the end of spiritual practice. But even without a religious perspective, love and compassion are clearly of fundamental importance to us all. Given our basic premise that ethical conduct consists in not harming others, it follows that we need to take other’s feelings into consideration, the basis for which is our innate capacity for empathy. And as we transform this capacity into love and compassion, through guarding against those factors which obstruct compassion and cultivating those conducive to it, so our practice of ethics improves. This, we find, leads to happiness both for ourselves and others.

 
PART II: ETHICS AND THE INDIVIDUAL

Chapter 6: The Ethic of Restraint

 

Saturday, October 15, 2011 @ 08:10 AM
posted by admin

ETHICS FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM

HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA

RIVERHEAD BOOKS                    1999

PART IV

 

Chapter 4: Redefining the Goal

I have observed that we all naturally desire happiness and not to suffer. I have suggested, furthermore, that these are rights, from which in my opinion we can infer that an ethical act is one which does not harm others’ experience or expectation of happiness. And I have described an understanding of reality which points to a commonality of interest in respect to self and others.

Let us now consider the nature of happiness. The first thing to note is that it is a relative quality. We experience it differently according to our circumstances. What makes one person glad may be a source of suffering to another. Most of us would be extremely sorry to be sent to prison for life. Yet a criminal under threat of the death penalty would likely be very happy to be reprieved with a sentence of life imprisonment. Second, it is important to recognize that we use the same word “happiness” to describe very different states, although this is more obvious in Tibetan where the same word, de wa, is also used for “pleasure.” We speak of happiness in connection with bathing in cool water on a hot day. We speak of it in connection with certain ideal states, such as when we say, “I would be so happy to win the lottery.” We also speak of happiness in relation to the simple joys of family life.

  • The happiness we derive from such things as bathing in cool water on a hot day is short-lived.
  • Generally speaking, even if money brings happiness, it tends to be the kind which money can buy: material things and sensory experiences.
  • Possessions are often the cause of more, not less, difficulties in life – the car breaks down, we lose our money, our most precious belongings are stolen, our house is damaged by fire.
  • Either that or we suffer because we worry about such things happening.
  • While occasionally we may feel we have found perfect happiness of this sort, this seeming perfection is ephemeral.
  • This explains why placing too much hope in material development is a mistake as it is based on the underlying assumptions that full satisfaction can arise from gratifying the senses alone.
  • The human capacity for experiencing deeper levels of happiness explains why such things as music and the arts offer a greater degree of happiness and satisfaction than merely acquiring material objects.
  • But they have a strong sensory component and by themselves they cannot offer the happiness we dream of.
  • The brief elation we experience when appeasing sensual impulses may not be very different from what the drug addict feels when indulging his or her habit.

A great deal of what I call internal suffering can be attributed to our impulsive approach to happiness. We do not stop to consider the complexity of a given situation. Our tendency is to rush in and do what seems to promise the shortest route to satisfaction. But in so doing, all too frequently, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity for a greater degree of fulfilment. This is actually quite strange. Usually we do not allow our children to do whatever they want. We realize that if given their freedom, they would probably spend their time playing rather than studying. So instead we make them sacrifice the immediate pleasure of play and compel them to study. Our strategy is more long term. As adults, we often neglect this principle.

  • The principle characteristic of genuine happiness is peace: inner peace, rooted in concern for others involving a high degree of sensitivity and feeling.
  • This fact, that inner peace is the principle characteristic of happiness, explains the paradox that while we can all think of people who remain dissatisfied, despite having every material advantage, there are others who remain happy, not withstanding the most difficult circumstances.
  • Good health, friends, freedom, and a degree of prosperity are all valuable and helpful yet without a feeling of inner peace and security they are of no avail.
  • There is no hope of attaining lasting happiness if we lack inner peace.
  • Developing inner peace is like any other task in life – we have to identify its causes and conditions and then diligently set about cultivating them.
  • This entails a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, we need to guard against those factors which obstruct it. On the other, we need to cultivate those which are conducive to it.
  • So far as the conditions for inner peace are concerned, one of the most important is our basic attitude – how we relate to external circumstances.
  • The other major source of inner peace is the actions we undertake in our pursuit of happiness.
  • We can classify these in terms of those that make a positive contribution toward it, those whose effect is neutral, and those which have a negative effect on it.
  • By considering what differentiates those acts which make for lasting happiness from those which offer only a transient sense of well-being, we see that in the latter case the activities themselves have no positive value.
  • When we desire things for no real reason beyond the enjoyment they give us, ultimately they tend to bring us more problems.
  • It is this very lack of concern for consequences that underlies extreme actions, like inflicting pain on others, even killing itself – either of which can certainly satisfy a person’s desires for a short time – though these desires are severely negative ones.
  • In the field of economic activity, the pursuit of profit without consideration of potentially negative consequences can undoubtedly give rise to feelings of great joy when success comes.
  • In the end there is suffering: the environment is polluted, our unscrupulous methods drive others out of business, the bombs we manufacture cause death and injury.

As to those activities which can lead to a sense of peace and lasting happiness, consider what happens when we do something we believe to be worthwhile. Perhaps we conceive of a plan to help our community and, eventually, after much effort, bring it to fruition. When we analyze activities of this sort, we find they involve discernment. They entail weighing different factors, including both the likely and the possible consequences for ourselves and for others. In this process of evaluation, the question of morality, of whether our intended actions are ethical, arises automatically. So while the initial impulse might be to be deceitful in order to gain some end, we reason that although we may gain temporary happiness this way, actually the long-term consequences of behaving thus are likely to bring trouble. We therefore deliberately renounce one course of action in favor of another. And it is through achieving our aim by means of effort and self-sacrifice, through considering both the short-term benefit to us and the long-term effects on others’ happiness, and sacrificing the former for the latter, that we attain the happiness which is characterized by peace and by genuine satisfaction.

  • Altruism is an essential component of these actions which lead to genuine happiness.
  • An ethical act is one where we refrain from causing harm to others experience or expectation of happiness.
  • Spiritual acts can be described in terms of love, compassion, patience, forgiveness, humility, tolerance etc. which presume some level of concern for others’ well-being.
  • Spiritual actions motivated by concern for others actually benefit ourselves and make our lives meaningful Altruistic actions not only bring about happiness but lessen our experience of suffering.
  • In our concern for others we worry less about ourselves and the experience of our own suffering is less intense.

What does this tell us? Firstly because our every action has a universal dimension, a potential impact on others’ happiness, ethics are necessary as a means to ensure that we do not harm others. Secondly, it tells us that genuine happiness consists in those spiritual qualities of love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and so on. It is these which provide happiness both for ourselves and others.

 

Chapter 5: The Supreme Emotion