- Find and provide an appropriate definition, discuss your understanding, and provide illustrative examples for each of the following seven terms: morals, values, personal bias, professional boundaries, confidentiality, right and wrong (100 words each minimum, not including definitions):
1. of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical.
3. founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom. (Morals)
Morals are essentially the line that is drawn where on one side is what is considered “right” and “appropriate”, while on the other side is “wrong” and “inappropriate”. This is usually done on multiple levels throughout a society. There are the group morals that often are the basis for the laws and accepted practices in that society. There are also personal morals that are based on one’s own experiences and their own determination of what is right and wrong. Often these are in agreement, but at times they are not.
As morals are either personal or society based and not universal, this can lead to some complications with people of different cultures meet. An example that is used throughout Living with Honour is female circumcision (Orr). In some, mostly tribal, cultures this is a fully appropriate and moral action. In the western cultures, this is seen as amoral and highly inappropriate.
To bring the moral quandary to a more personal level, you witness someone breaking a law that you disagree with. Do you report it to the authorities? Social morals say you should. Personal morals may be different. This brings up the question of do the laws of the society trump your own personal morals, and that in itself is a moral choice. This is a difficult question, and one that I would have to struggle with if ever encountered.
10. values, Sociology. the ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy. (Values)
Values are the foundation of our morals. They are the individual ideals, customs, traditions, etc that we hold dear. These are the ideas that we use to shape what we do, and what we feel is morally correct. They can be defined in a positive fashion such as compassion for those in need. They can also be defined in a negative fashion such as the Christian Ten Commandments.
Our moral codes are a reflection of our values. If we were to say that we value human life at all costs, then we would go out of our way to prevent murder, suicide, and any preventable human death. On the other hand, if we valued an individual’s desire to not suffer (from prolonged illness as an example), suicide may become permissible. We have to rank our values as to what is more important to us when we get into situations like this. Everyone will rank them differently, and that is why there is such disagreement over things like doctor assisted suicide.
Ultimately, I would like to think that one’s values will reflect how they want to be treated. As commonly stated in the golden rule, “Do unto others as you want done unto you”.
2. a particular tendency or inclination, esp. one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice.
9. to cause partiality or favoritism in (a person); influence, esp. unfairly: a tearful plea designed to bias the jury. (Bias)
Personal Biases are our own personal preferences and prejudices. We all have them, and they are based on our own experiences, and often reflect our values and morals. A common bias historically is how one feels about people of a different skin color. Historically, we treated those of a different race differently than we treated our own race, usually worse than we would treat our own. This is an example of a bias against those that are different, and as we continue to develop this world economy, this bias is slowly disappearing from the global culture. As an example, in Singapore which is truly a global city with a large mixture of cultures (Malay, Indian, Chinese, and western), there is little outward bias shown to those of different cultures.
We all have our biases. It is up to us to recognize them and whatever limitations may be associated with them though. If we have a bias against a certain race, we need to recognize that and take extra care to be sure that any actions we take with regards to someone of that race are proper and not based on our biases. To be ethical, we must recognize what our personal biases are, and work to not put ourselves in a position where they play a role in our actions and decisions.
Professional boundaries separate therapeutic behaviour of the registered nurse from any behaviour which, well intentioned or not, could lessen the benefit of care to clients, families and communities (Alberta Association of Registered Nurses).
Professional boundaries define effective and appropriate interaction between professionals and the public they serve. Boundaries exist to protect both the professional and the client (Professional Boundaries Inc.).
Professional boundaries are those lines that we do not cross in order to protect ourselves and the person(s) that we are interacting with. This is often thought of as what we do not do in order to protect ourselves from potential law suits. As related to clergy, this most often involves relationships between the clergy member and the members of the church.
There have been multiple reports throughout recent memory where the priest got involved in some kind of romantic relationship with a member of their congregation. When this relationship ran its course, there was usually a nasty, public downfall for the priest. If the priest had not gotten involved in the relationship, or passed their responsibilities to another priest, this all could have been avoided. A similar example would be the relationship that President Clinton had with Monica Lewinsky. He violated the boundaries of the boss/employee relationship by engaging in a sex act with her.
It is important to recognize what the boundaries of your position are, and to not cross them. If you are in a position of power (leadership) or influence (clergy), you need to recognize that you are in this position and you have certain boundaries that you should not cross. This is not only to protect yourself, but to protect the greater organization and the individuals you are dealing with. If you find that you have crossed the boundaries, or you are biased because of having crossed the boundaries in the past (previous relationship as example), then you need to recognize this, and remove yourself from the decision.
1. spoken, written, acted on, etc., in strict privacy or secrecy; secret: a confidential remark (confidentiality).
Confidentiality is essentially keeping information secret or limited in who knows the information. This is something that I have to deal with daily in my professional life. I do contract research work, and anything I do is property of the customer and outside of the normal confines of my job, I am not allowed to discuss what I do in great detail. I am also not allowed to use information I learned from working for one customer while doing work for a different customer unless I can find that information in the public domain.
With regards to being clergy, we are in a position where we are told sensitive information with the expectation that we will treat it as confidential. There is a trust established between us and individuals that we won’t betray their confidence. With rare exception, I hold all this information as sacred and will refuse to talk about it without the permission of the person that told me it. The rare exceptions though would be where the law requires us to disclose the information.
Right and Wrong:
Right: 1. in accordance with what is good, proper, or just: right conduct (right).
Wrong: 1. not in accordance with what is morally right or good: a wrong deed (wrong).
Right and wrong are very subjective and will vary from person to person and culture to culture. In a legal sense, right is following the laws of the land, wrong is breaking the laws. There is plenty of grey area in the laws though, and there is plenty that is not covered by laws. As it is subjective, what is right in one society may be wrong in another society. Take for an example the use of marijuana. In some countries like the Netherlands, it is legal to possess and use certain quantities of it. In other countries like the US, it’s illegal to possess any. Is it right or wrong to possess the drug?
Another example would be lying. It is generally accepted that lying is wrong. There are cases though where lying may be right, depending on the person. Is it proper to lie to not hurt someone’s feelings, the so called white lie?
Immanuel Kant touches on the ideas of morality, right, and wrong. He laid out the idea of “I ought never to act except in such a way that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law.” (Orr 75) What this is basically saying is that one should not do something that they wouldn’t be something that society could survive everyone doing. An example of this is suicide. While it may seem appropriate for one to commit suicide, if everyone did, the society would not survive. As a result, this is not morally right according to Kant.
In the end, what we consider to be right or wrong is determined by our morals and values. What one person’s morals and values says is wrong to do, another’s may say is the right thing to do. We can do nothing other than follow the laws of our society and our own moral code of conduct.
- Self-awareness is key to the implementation of professional ethics. Discuss how your personal morals, values, bias and ability to maintain adequate boundaries, confidentiality and determine right from wrong might both positively and negatively impact your professional relationships. (200 words minimum)
I have rather high and strict personal morals and ethics. To start off with, if anything is told to me in confidence, I go out of my way to not share that information with anyone without first getting permission to do so. As a result of this, I have found myself to quite often be the person someone goes to so they can just vent. This happens to me as a priest in ADF, as a leader in ADF, and in my own private life and friendships.
I also realize I have some biases that come from various events that have happened to me in the past. Usually, these biases are not an issue as they don’t show up in my everyday life. When they do show up though, I readily recognize them and freely admit to them. If it is possible, I then remove myself from a position where I have to make decisions where this bias could even appear to have any effect on my decision even if it may not have a true effect. I am very conscious of what my actions are perceived as being the result of, and I go out of my way to make sure that any biases I may hold are not part of that perception.
How one’s actions are perceived is only a part of my morals and ethics. I also do have boundaries that I will not cross. One of these includes not being in a romantic or sexual relationship with people that may be perceived as having some effect on my status in any organization, and if I am in such a situation, make sure that I, or they as the case may be recues ourselves from any decisions dealing with the other. As I am currently in a position of international leadership in ADF, that essentially limits me to not having any kind of sexual or romantic relationship with another member, and if I did have one, I’d have to recues myself from any and all decisions related to that person.
I also am very much in line with Kant’s take on morality and values. Whatever I do, I do for the good of all as if what I did was being done by universally. This may not lead me to be happy, but it leads to a better organization overall. If I am ever not able to step away and do what is best for all, I will remove myself as I am no longer doing my duty. It is this universality idea that helps me determine what is right or wrong. If everyone was doing it with no repercussions, then it must be right, or at least acceptable.
- Discuss how an individual learns to determine right from wrong and explain the factors that influence this determination? (100 words minimum)
Learning right and wrong is something that starts in childhood and is taught to us by our parents and other adults in our life. As we get older though, we can and do start to determine what is right or wrong for ourselves based on our own personal experiences. If something “feels” good to us, it is right, whereas if something doesn’t or we or someone we care for is hurt, that is wrong. There is also the social right and wrong which may be at odds with what our personal views are. An example of this is homosexuality. In conservative Christian communities, being a homosexual is wrong, but those of us that are feel the exact opposite.
How we determine what is right or wrong is almost an innate ability. It is often based completely on our past history. While at times one will use reason to determine if something is right, most often they will use their first impression and gut feeling. As leaders and clergy members, we need to make a special effort to not make such snap judgments but instead try to reason things out and see it from the viewpoint of all parties involved.
- Describe several reasons why an individual would strive to "do the right thing"? (100 words minimum)
There are many reasons that one would do the right thing. One is because it leads simply to a reward of some kind. This could be a physical reward such as money for turning in someone that broke the law, or it could be a social reward where if they do the right thing it will raise their status in the eyes of that social group. There also can be social or peer pressure to do the right thing.
Many people also have an internal pressure. This is usually a matter of them living up to their own values and ideals. There also can be a bit of guilt involved where if they didn’t do the right thing, they couldn’t be a peace with what happened.
- Discuss how an individual's values relate to the decision making process. (100 words minimum)
Orr states that the following are all parts of what we use to make decisions: intuition and conscience, emotion and feeling, rational sense, balancing pleasure and pain, religious law, social and political law, rights, and personal freedom (Orr 68-95). An individual’s values can relate to each and every one of those ideas. I feel though that out of all those she listed and described, the pleasure/pain balance is what plays the largest role. Instinctively we’ll do what will ultimately give us the most pleasure and least pain before anything else, until reasoning comes into play.
Personally, I believe that a gain/loss evaluation is likely the most important reason why someone makes a decision to do something. This ties in with the how one determines right and wrong. If we gain from the decision, and it doesn’t go against our values, we do it without questioning. If it goes against our values or is a major loss for us, we try not to do it unless forced to by laws or social conscience. It’s in the middle ground though that one has to truly make a decision. Here is where we draw on our values, morals, and ethical code and ask if doing something will result us being able to sleep at night. If it won’t, then we weigh the pleasure we get from doing such a thing, versus the pain of doing it, and ultimately live with the result.
- Discuss the importance of ethics to the clergy-lay relationship. Do you believe a clergy person has ethical responsibilities? If so, what are these responsibilities? (300 words minimum)
Ethics in the clergy-lay relationship is of the upmost importance. As a clergy member, you are a leader. The congregant and other people that have dealings with the clergy member as clergy have expectations as to how the clergy member will behave and what they can and will do. Often these expectations will be reasonable and feasible for the clergy person to fulfill. There are times though where they are out of the scope of the clergy member’s training or skills. The clergy person has to recognize this and admit it to themselves and the person they are dealing with. In this case honesty about one’s knowledge and skills is extremely important.
While the primary role of clergy in ADF is often thought of as a liturgy and ritual specialist, that is not the entire extent of what they are expected to do. The popular social idea of clergy is that of them being someone that you can go to with your problems and they can at minimum listen to them, and at best, fix all your problems. Whether or now we wish to do this kind of pastoral counseling, we are going to have the expectation from the lay member that we are here for that. It is extremely important that we are honest at all times with the members as to the limitations of our skills, and point them to someone that can help them if it is out of our abilities.
This raises the question of confidentiality. We need to be able to be trusted with confidential information. This means that we need to treat any kind of potentially confidential conversation we have as one, and make a strong effort to hold any information we gain from them in the strictest confidence as far as the laws allow us to.
Ultimately though, the lay person expects us to be the epitome of the values and virtues of ADF. We are held to a higher standard both as the leader we have become and our role as a clergy member. As a result, we must keep that in mind at all times, and strive to live to this higher standard. It’s not an easy thing to do, and we must recognize that we will falter. We also must apologize when we do, and go out of our way to make everything right in the eyes of the members.
- Discuss the meaning of confidential privilege, the laws in your state that provide for this privilege and the extent to which it applies to clergy-lay communications in your community. (200 words minimum)
The law in New York is very straight forward with regards to clergy confidential privilege:
CVP - Civil Practice Law and Rules, Article 45 – Evidence, § 4505 states: “Confidential communication to clergy privileged. Unless the person confessing or confiding waives the privilege, a clergyman, or other minister of any religion or duly accredited Christian Science practitioner, shall not be allowed disclose a confession or confidence made to him in his professional character as spiritual advisor (Find Law).”
This law is actually very broad, and allows for any communications to us as a clergy members, while fulfilling the role as clergy, to be considered confidential communication. Of course communications to us outside of our role of clergy are not covered by this law.
A common place for the confidential privilege to be negated by law is with regards to mandatory reporting of child abuse. Per New York Law: SOS - Social Services, Article 6 – Children, Title 6 – Child Protective Services, §413, Clergy or Priest is not listed as a mandatory reporter, but oddly enough a Christian Science practitioners. (RAINN).
Within ADF though, we have no written expectation of confidentiality for clergy, although there may be an expectation of it by members. What is likely the best thing for us as individuals is to request that the person we are communicating with to ask if they want us to keep this information confidential. This will make it perfectly clear to us what we can and cannot discuss legally.
Of course, we could take the opposite route and tell the member we are communicating with that we either will or won’t keep the communications we have with them as confidential up front instead of asking their preference. In either case though, we need to make it clear up front whether or not we are going to keep whatever information we are given confidential and make sure the congregant we are talking with understands that up front.
If it comes to legal action though, where we may need to break confidentiality, we will have to consult with a lawyer.
- One of the main principles of ethics is to "do no harm". Discuss the meaning of this principle as it applies to the clergy-lay relationship. (100 words minimum)
The idea of do no harm can be an emotionally difficult thing to do. Doing no harm often means not acting as we want to, but how we should. A very likely place for this to happen is when people come to us and ask us to take on the role of a councilor. I personally am not a councilor or trained in counseling. Doing no harm would be to not act as a councilor, but instead referring them to someone that is.
This does not mean that we cannot do things such as active listening with that person though. As soon as we start doing something we are not comfortable doing, or are not trained to do though, we may unintentionally cause harm to the person. It is better to be honest up front and admit we cannot do something while referring the person to someone that can help them, then try to help and making things worse.
- Compare and contrast the Nine Virtues described in the ADF Dedicant Path and prominent values in the dominant culture of the country in which you live. (200 words minimum)
The Nine Virtues of ADF are wisdom, piety, vision, courage, integrity, perseverance, hospitality, moderation and fertility. Some of these virtues are commonly valued in the American culture, some are not valued, and some are somewhat valued.
The ones that are commonly valued throughout the American culture are Wisdom, Vision, Courage, and Perseverance. Wisdom, or the knowledge that one gains through experience. While the youth may not value it, the older one gets, the more one values it. Vision as a value is best thought of as foresight, and we definitely value that as a society when someone come up with an idea and follows through with it. Courage is another one that is greatly valued, and is best exemplified by how the nation respects its warriors. Lastly, Perseverance, or the drive to keep going until the task is done, is highly valued, and is the basis of a good work ethic.
Those values that are somewhat valued in a similar way as we do in ADF are Integrity and Moderation. The reason I say these are somewhat valued are because it is common to see people spouting that they value them, but then not practice them themselves. Integrity is best exemplified by elected officials. We all say we want someone in office that has integrity. The candidates always say they have it. We are also usually disappointed when it is shown that they don’t have it. Moderation is another one that falls into the same pattern. We all know and agree that everything needs to be done in moderation. As Ian Corrigan has said on many occasions, “practice moderation in moderation.” While this may be a value we try to have, we all have been known to do things to excess, be it drinking, sex, eating, or some other activity. This is a value that society, and even us, struggle with daily.
ADF is at odds with the American culture though with regards to Piety, Hospitality, and Fertility. With regards to Piety, we see it as doing our religion and making the sacrifices. This is different from the American culture which either sees it as just showing up to a service, or not valuing religion at all. Hospitality is also different in that we value a reciprocal hospitality instead of a one way hospitality. We value and try to practice *ghosti and this is best exemplified by what has happened in the past at Starwood with the Druid Heights camp. In the American culture, the only time hospitality crosses most people’s minds are around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and often it is only friends and family, rarely anyone else. Finally, fertility is valued differently. Fertility is often thought of as sex. In Neo-Paganism and ADF, sex is something to be valued and practiced, while in the American culture, sex is still a taboo subject. The other way of looking at fertility, the fertility of the mind or creativity, that is valued the same in ADF and the American culture.
- The Nine Virtues described in the ADF Dedicant Path are proposed as a starting point for individuals embracing a value system inspired by traditions of the past. Utilizing the ADF nine virtues, develop a Code of Ethics for your use as ADF Clergy. Describe how you derived this code from the Nine Virtues and how you would apply this Code. (No minimum word count for the Code; however the Code must contain a minimum of five principles; 300 words minimum for the description)
- I will always be honest with every word I say.
- Exceptions may be made only to spare the feelings of someone, and only if that is the only foreseeable effect.
- I will only make promises to do things I can fulfill.
- I will admit up front if I think I will have trouble fulfilling any promise.
- If I find after making a promise that I cannot keep it, or will not make the deadline, I will notify all involved in a timely fashion.
- I will hold all sensitive information I may receive in my duties as a priest as confidential information unless granted permission to share the information.
- Exceptions will be made in the following cases:
- When the information is with regard to the commission of a crime.
- When the information is about abuse of any kind.
- When required by law.
- All people talking to me will be made aware of the exceptions in the event the conversation heads in the direction of revealing information of that nature.
- I will not discriminate, and I will not tolerate discrimination happening in my presence.
- I will not harass anyone, and I will not tolerate harassment happening in my presence.
Law and Order
- I will make all reasonable attempts to obey every law where I physically am.
- If I break a law, I will own up to it and do the punishment adjudicated.
- I will be as environmentally friendly as I can within my means.
- I will support sensible and reasonable environmental cause I am able to.
Role and Visibility as a Priest and Leader in ADF
- I will be consciously aware of my position as a priest in ADF and how my actions reflect on ADF. As a result of this I will:
- Consider how all words and actions I do reflect on ADF and not purposely do anything that will embarrass ADF.
- Refrain from any actions that may be seen as favoritism.
- Be 100 % open with what I do and why I do it.
- If I find myself involved in an intimate relationship with a member of ADF, I will recues myself from any and all discussions and decisions involving the person I am in a relationship I am in.
- I will practice my religion consistent with my beliefs, and on a regular basis when possible.
- I will respect other religions and their right to practice according to their beliefs.
- I will strive to live up to an oath I took as a teenager that 20 years later still rings true in my heart paraphrased as pledging, to the best of my ability, to help others at all times no matter the hardships that I may face.
This code of ethics takes into account the nine virtues of ADF. As I was typing up my code, I realized that this is something that would also be very productive to be displayed on our leader bio pages.
Wisdom: This code demonstrates wisdom in that it is based off of my life experience to this point. I am also wise enough to know that this will change over time, and this should be a living document that is updated and refined over time.
Piety: This code demonstrates piety first by saying that I will be practicing my religion on a regular basis. It also promotes piety in others by not standing in their way with regards to their religious practices, even if they are counter to my own. Also, the support of ADF throughout the code will only help keep people in, and attract people to ADF by showing our leadership have ethical codes and what they are, and hopefully help promote piety throughout ADF.
Vision: This code demonstrates vision by showing the foresight for issues that may happen in the future. Most of this is with regards to legal consequences with regards to confidential information. It also is a major part of the sections on honesty and integrity.
Courage: This code demonstrates courage throughout. It shows that I will make the tough decisions to keep my honor, with very few exceptions. It takes courage to be honest, and it takes courage to accept and keep confidential information without knowing what it is.
Integrity: This code demonstrates integrity explicitly, and implicitly. Integrity is about doing what you say you will, and following through with your word. I pledge to do that explicitly in the code. Integrity also goes along with courage and doing the right thing, and I pledge to do that above all else when physically possible.
Perseverance: Seeing things through to the finish is not easy. I have been living variations of this code for the majority of my adult life. This code shows perseverance by me still striving to live up to it many years after I first started to form it.
Hospitality: In supporting others, and by following the religious practices of ADF, I am promoting hospitality.
Moderation: This code demonstrates moderation by my implicit admission that I may slip and not follow the code. I also have written in the code exceptions that are examples of moderation of my values so I don’t go to the extremes.
Fertility: By being honest, demonstrating integrity, and helping others, I will help promote and foster a fertile environment for people around me to grow as people without judgment from me. When talking about fertility of a sexual nature, I have recognized limits that must be placed on my intimate relationships if they ever develop with someone that is or becomes a part of ADF.
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