A guide to human virtue

John Sase and Gerard J. Senick

“Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, science without humanity, knowledge without character, politics without principle, commerce without morality, [and] worship without sacrifice.”
— Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, from “Seven Blunders of the World,” a list that he gave to his grandson Arun Gandhi before his assassination on 30 January 1948

Now that the election season is over, we have turned our attention to other serious and not-so-serious matters. Politically active attorneys have refocused on their law practices, students wallow in the midst of final exams and term papers, and the multi-holiday season is upon us. Especially with this latter season in mind, we want to present our readership with a holiday gift of sorts — a primer on the qualities of human virtue. We hope that this will edify our audience and will help them both personally and professionally.

Last year at this time, we presented our work on the Twelve Things that Constitute Real Riches from the philosophy of Andrew Carnegie as conveyed through Napoleon Hill, author of the book “Think and Grow Rich:  Your Key to Financial Wealth and Power” (The Ralston Society, 1937). In this year-end column, we will present our work on the dangers to human virtue as iterated by Mahatma Gandhi and elaborated on by Mr. Senick and me (Dr. Sase). We have based our elaboration on the writings of many great activists throughout the past millennia, a list that ranges from before the ancient Vedic texts to the most current blogs on social consciousness.

The list in our opening quote by Gandhi was published originally as “Seven Blunders of the World.” Widely disseminated after his death, this list has become known as the “Seven Dangers to Human Virtue — Seven Sins.” In reading this quote, we are reminded that many Christian, Hebrew, Muslim, and other religious and secular authors have expressed variations of these thoughts. To us, the subtitle “Seven Sins” stands out. One origin of the word “sin” is an ancient one that means to miss the target. Any of us who have thrown darts or shot an arrow understands how much easier it is to miss a target than it is to hit it. Furthermore, we find it more difficult to hit the bulls-eye than the outer rings. Therefore, it makes more sense to focus on the goal of hitting the bulls-eye rather than to discuss what it takes to miss it. Rather than concentrating on deficiencies, let us consider the equitable balance within these pairs of endeavors and attributes. We will balance and weigh syntheses of pleasure and conscience, education and character, wealth and work, business and ethics, politics and principles, science and humanity, and worship and sacrifice.

Pleasure and Conscience

Any pursuit of a person, action, or thing that may bring enjoyment to us demands the knowledge within ourselves to distinguish a good from a bad. However, our modern media-driven culture teaches us to want or even to need pleasure without the benefit of conscious well-being. However, without a sense of responsibility, we might indulge in physical pleasures to the point that they do harm to us.

Often, the content of advertisements, the news, and entertainment reinforce a one-sided belief that we have earned and deserve pleasure when in actuality we have not. Media messages go beyond the pale, such that we are misguided to believe that we no longer need a conscience to guide us to a healthy equilibrium.

As a result, the general social equilibrium of interdependence erodes as humans fall to the extremes of isolated independence or clinging dependence. Without a consciousness of ageless truths and principles to ground us in natural law, the cost of pleasure flows beyond ourselves as well as our time and money. The negative externality — a social spillover — erodes the collective human spirit.

Education and Character
In pursuit of the perpetual goal of growing in wisdom and knowledge, education and character development play roles simultaneously. Education is a lifelong pursuit — a living/learning experience — that occurs in the classroom, the home, the workplace, and on the street. This experience results in a drawing out from our selves.
We cannot attain the goal of wisdom in full knowledge without the necessary moral fiber that grows through character development. In our modern society, formal education raises us to positions of leadership. However, education without character can produce leaders and followers who are corrupt and who commit abominable deeds. The development of character along with education produces a fuller knowledge for using one’s education for good rather than for evil. Without the key of knowledge, even highly educated persons might not use the product of their living/learning experience for the betterment of society.

Wealth and Work

Effort expended on a particular task often brings a sense of well-being and prosperity. Hopefully, our efforts bring these results consistently. In the turbulence of our media-dominated age, we can lose sight easily that wealth comes in the forms of intrinsic as well as extrinsic rewards. Most of us experience both forms as a sense of satisfaction in our respective trades or profession. Furthermore, most occupations produce an element of both rewards.
Throughout the ages, we have been taught that diligence brings wealth and that one cannot gain wealth without work. However, history is littered with stories about rulers who became wealthy through work that is not their own. Sometimes, through the collective effort of stakeholders, all gain a share of extrinsic wealth. In other situations, as one person becomes wealthier, someone else suffers as a result.
In simple economic terms, work produces income. In turn, income supports consumption to fulfill current needs and wants. Any amount of income that is set aside contributes wealth for future consumption. This wealth can be accessed by the earner or it can be passed along to future generations. However, regardless of the amount of wealth that is available, it is good to work even if not extrinsically necessary. The intrinsic rewards from work-such as pride of accomplishment, personal satisfaction, and increase of knowledge — may be as important as the extrinsic ones.

Business and Ethics
Exchanging goods and services needs a set of morals that recognizes the distinction between good and evil — between right and wrong — and that expresses sound character. However, spokespeople of ethical codes have been mocked by serious persons in positions of power. Throughout history, these spokespeople have emphasized that every market transaction presents a moral challenge. This challenge demands that both parties emerge from the transaction in what we currently term a win-neutral or, more preferably, a win-win situation. In recent centuries, economists have emphasized that fairness and benevolence in business form the foundation of our current corporate-capitalistic free-enterprise system. This system has emerged from an underlying socio-political construct in which both stated and implied rights for the majority and minority warrant respect.
However, the challenge to modern business has come to rest upon the legal tenet that the Primary Fiduciary Responsibility of corporate managers is to maximize the profits for owners, subject to other conditions. However, these other conditions, which include respect for the needs of employees, rational/educated consumers, and the social and natural environment, often take the back seat on the bus. The ethics that must go along with business seem constrained ultimately by a legal system that is politically driven.

Politics and Principles
The struggle within any group for the power that will result in giving one or more persons the ability to make decisions for the larger group needs to be founded upon rules. These rules center on how all the laws of nature are to be applied. Without rules for applying natural law, rulers have been able to conscript subjects into the military, to force others to labor on farms or to make weapons of war, and to take prime lands from the citizenry and hand them over to special interests while enslaving entire populations. These outcomes result from politics without principle.
Good politics demand solid principles that a society maintains beyond mere rhetoric. Sound principles help us to maintain social justice as a matter of honor. To the contrary, the lack of principles leads the body politic into the blasphemy of social injustice and distorted values — a system of values not based upon natural law. Therefore, with sound principles embedded in politics, those who govern embody the natural law, a law to which no one is above.

Science and Humanity

Knowledge gained through study or practice needs to respect the benevolent quality of the human condition and its underlying humane traits and qualities of character. When science and its practice degenerate into mere technology and technique, science comes into conflict with humanity. As a result, we become victims of the technology and technique that we have developed to serve us while our science continues to progress with little understanding of our higher human purpose. Without this understanding of humanity, periodic leaps in science produce very little in the way of human advancement. Occasionally, these leaps cause the human condition to degenerate into a higher-tech neo-barbarism. Such an outcome can lead to a devolution of natural law and its accompanying moral principles.

Worship and Sacrifice

The honor and distinction of becoming worthy — a ship of worth — demands that we give away something in order to make this act whole and holy. The principles of spiritual, social, and natural sciences act interdependently to create the world anew. As human beings, we continue to search for new ways of thinking and behaving as well as understanding all of the dimensions of our human experience. However, we cannot achieve this state of being without giving something away of equal worth. More than the six preceding dualities discussed above, the abstract equilibrium of Worship and Sacrifice give us the clarity to understand how the other six work. As a result, achievement of equilibrium for this present duality provides us with the key of knowledge to unlock the others.

Finale
Tradition has warned us against the seven deadly sins of greed, sloth, wrath, gluttony, envy, pride, and lust. In a way, all of these play into Gandhi’s seven deadly social sins, which are: politics without principle, wealth without work, commerce without morality, pleasure without conscience, education without character, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice. We would posit that the concepts of principle, work, morality, conscience, character, humanity, and sacrifice offset the seven deadly sins and help to make life worth living.
As we approach the end of the year, we hope that our audience of attorneys and other professionals enjoy their holidays and have a healthy and prosperous 2013. We appreciate the opportunity to have written articles for the Legal News for nearly fourteen years. We look forward to many more years of association with this publication and its audience.

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A PDF copy of this article is posted at http://www.saseassociates.com/ legalnewscolumn.html. We continue to post videos related to our monthly column on www.YouTube.com/SaseAssociates in the Legal News Features playlist.

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Dr. John F. Sase of SASE Associates, Economic Consulting and Research, earned his MBA at the University of Detroit and his Ph.D. in Economics at Wayne State University. He is a graduated of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School. Dr. Sase can be reached at (248) 569-5228 and by e-mail at drjohn@saseassociates.com.
Gerard J. Senick is a freelance writer, editor, and musician. He earned his degree in English at the University of Detroit and was a Supervisory Editor at Gale Research Company (now Cengage) for more than 20 years. Currently, he edits books for publication and gives seminars on writing. Mr. Senick can be reached at (313) 342-4048 and by e-mail at gary@senick-editing.com.

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