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Values, Morals and Ethics - Personal Ethics and Life

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This page continues to grow in viewership and ranks as one of the highest viewed pages on this website. I'm impressed with the growing concern for ethics at this time. This paper was originally written in 2002 for Leadership 520 - Organizational Ethics, while enrolled in the Master of Arts in Organizational Management program at the University of Phoenix in Arizona.

Most recently the ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Standards deserve your attention.
You can find a Draft copy at
Planetary Citizens

Personal conviction and ethics statement:  I will to do good for all, desiring to serve humanity in the highest and best use of my mind/body/spirit complex, in the facilitation of a new world order of harmony among people and planet through presenting alternative solutions to community service delivery, participating in local socio-economic and environmental service programs, development of a solutions-based state-of-the-art model community, and developing a website that promotes these endeavors and more in the change of consciousness necessary for sustainable living on Planet Earth.

    It has been said that values, morals and ethics are inextricably tied together. Values are what we learn from childhood; the 'stuff' we absorb from our parents and immediate surroundings. Morals are the intrinsic beliefs developed from the value systems of how we 'should' behave in any given situation. Ethics, on the other hand, are how we actually do behave in the face of difficult situations that test our moral fiber. In his book, "How Good People Make Tough Choices," Rushworth Kidder notes four basic paradigms of ethical decisions: justice versus mercy; short-term versus long-term; individual versus community; and truth versus loyalty. He goes on to define the concepts further:

  • The point behind the justice-versus-mercy paradigm is that fairness, equity, and even-handed application of the law often conflict with compassion, empathy, and love.

  • Short-term versus long-term, or now versus then, reflect the difficulties arising when immediate needs or desires run counter to future goals or prospects.

  • The individual-versus-community paradigm can be restated as us versus them, self versus others, or the smaller versus the larger group.

  • Truth versus loyalty can be seen as honesty or integrity versus commitment, responsibility, or promise-keeping.

    Expressing one’s personal grasp of ethics and life may not always be understood in the context of the world at large, the immediate environment, or even amongst the intimate others in the household. This is usually due to the fact that every person has some difference, small or great, in the development of their belief systems. Belief systems are established early in life through environments of home, church, school, and social gatherings which help to mold and shape these beliefs. Most of these beliefs and patterns of behavior are established through the unconscious observations and experiences of childhood in the aforementioned environments. These I refer to as ‘outer’ experiences which are akin to the 'nurture' piece of the 'nature-nurture' developmental processes. Allow me to use my own 'outer' experience as an example. My personal ethics and leadership feeds my enthusiasm for sharing.

    I knew that I was adopted by the time I was five. My adoptive parents were ideal by some standards, demonstrating honesty, integrity, and willingness to address conflict with style and grace even in the most difficult of situations. Dad was a tool and die machinist, building plastic injection molds for General Motors optical division and was also a 32nd Degree Mason. Mom was an educator with a master's degree in Music and English and taught middle school English and Literature. They were a formidable team for an adolescent with growing pains, encouraging me to challenge and explore my world. My parents taught me that honesty was the best policy, even when the details may not be too favorable. They taught me the meaning of trust which was not being afraid even when I felt vulnerable. Of course that does not mean that I am able to apply that knowledge always, although age does have its advantages. Where obvious bottlenecks occur in personal and professional environments I still tend to 'go deep' in conversations even at the risk of rejection. Paths need to be cleared of trash for solid relationships to develop.

    I also began having metaphysical, or paranormal, experiences around my 6th birthday. I refer to these as ‘inner’ experiences, or what I feel akin to the 'nature' element of the developmental processes. Our values, morals and ethics and intrinsic functionality in society stems from this place, although it is the 'outer' details that generally rule the scene. For most, the internal experience is often ignored because of the lack of external acceptance or validation. There was a disparity with my parents due to the lack of a frame of reference regarding my metaphysical meanderings which often caused me to question my own reality, by the way. 'Trust but verify' builds reliance on others and it is rare that one can find other psychic constituents in the workplace or in life for that matter. Consequently, the balance toward trusting others was often weighted by desire rather than discernment. The discernment came later as I began to understand that not all people were like my parents. Even they kept their distance in discussing certain spiritual experiences or subjects. The lack of personal experience often creates barriers that are difficult to bridge, if at all. In fact, I found that disbelief and skepticism were more prominent than ever. People were often afraid of what they did not understand and sometimes allowed that fear to provoke unnecessary violence. Fear stimulates a plethora of disconnecting responses. I had learned that life was stimulated by connectedness so this presented a great enigma. How can one close this gap, at times a chasm, so that it can be reconciled or resolved? Personal ethics ascends to personal leadership in the face of seeming insurmountable odds at times.

   Others’ motives were not always utilitarian, nor are their values, morals and ethics. Heck, mine weren't always either. We all have some selfish motivations from time to time. Some live their lives by those motivations. The resulting actions were often misplaced personal libertarian expressions of selfishness without regard to personal boundaries and affects on the environment, fueled by the presence of plethora of distractions from what is 'healthy or prudent' to what works for now or provides the most personal benefit. Honesty and integrity show up in the leaders who are willing to bear the cross, so to speak, of clearing the path to success of its garbage. This process of restoring integrity (the congruence of values, ethics, and morals) can have emotionally devastating affects if one allows the projections of others to rule their lives. People with problems most often will project those problems onto others until someone or something presents a situation that challenges the person to change and provides a safe environment for them to do so. There are others who seem to attract these situations, usually because they have committed themselves to service in some way. The strength of character is reflective of the trials and tribulations one has addressed in their life and empowered by their ability to ascend from emotional manipulation and/or trickery. The proverbial look in the mirror allows us to see what we need to transcend, even in ourselves.

    As I got older I learned that the inner life I was leading provided more concrete understanding of the nature of the outer reality and the actions of others. I read profusely for a time, gobbling up the great works of secular and spiritual masters to glean better understanding of my own experiences and to grow personally and professionally. Putting myself in the hot seat at seminars and workshops tested what I learned and tempered my sword of truth over time. I learned over the years that questions asked internally with sincerity are answered in a variety of ways, not always in the moment they are asked. We all still have to deal with human emotions and the occasional absurdity of the actions emotions precipitate. Whether exposing options changed those actions or not varied from situation to situation depending on my ability to question congruency, the awareness of connectivity, and framing the emotional feelings and sensations verbally so that we could discuss them. Articulation without projection is a most challenging process. Most 'first responses' in chelas on the path are projective in nature, often defensive and full of irrationalities. The challenge to change still presents itself as I get older and more experienced with introducing interrogatives that do not put people on edge, although sometimes its fun to watch them squirm. However, insecurity is rampant in our society and even the most innocuous questions too often produce defensive postures. Fear, guilt and shame have ruled our lives for too long.

    In my teens the greatest influence came through the Order of DeMolay, which is sort of a young men's (14-21) Christian-based precursor to the Masonic Order. It was named after Jaques DeMolay, a Knights Templar, who gave up his life rather than betray his brethren during the Crusades in Europe. I was elected Master Councilor at fifteen and at 17, competed at the state Conclave through a speech on filial love and in one-meter springboard diving, achieving an honorable mention for the speech and third place in diving. Receiving the International DeMolay Medal for Saving a Human Life was another significant emotional event at the Conclave. I had been quick to respond to an event at the public pool where I was a lifeguard the previous summer. I reached an unconscious young girl just after being struck by another diver, having perceived the outcome and entering the water before the actual event. Her parents pursued the newspaper and recognition of my attentiveness. I was just fortunate to have been watching and able to act on the event. Our Chapter Dad submitted the paperwork to the International Council without my awareness. Saving the life of another is a personal blessing for which there is truly no verbal or written example of the heart-felt response. I chose not to pursue the path of Free Masonry, although I honor its foundation of personal service toward the highest good of all.

    I learned the values, morals and ethics of teamwork in school through clubs, group projects and sports and individual participation intransformation: a guide for change support of the team through baseball, golf (medallist my senior year), and track. The competitive spirit was alive within me, yet it was not a 'win-at-all-cost' attitude by any means. I had a lot of natural academic talent and physical ability that I took for granted. I realized later in life that my knack for accomplishment stemmed from simply not knowing what I could not do. I missed opportunities because I chose to clutter my head with drugs late in high school and early in college. In time I learned to be genuine with my affection and my attention; being cautious and sensitive in matters of the heart and a bit bold in exploring life's opportunities. According to many authorities relationships should be more caring and considerate as we mature. Much later, my involvement in education and child development (divorced w/four children and an unfulfilled desire to be near them) demonstrated that the 'norm' during those years is quite 'me-centered' and emotional maturity comes later for most, if at all. I'm sure my behavior was quite indicative of a teenager, yet in the quieter moments my thoughts ran very deep.

    I graduated 10th in my class of 300 and had no idea at the time that I could have been valedictorian had I put just a little effort toward excelling in academics. My classroom pranks brought my average down as well, having met the challenge of classmates without thinking of personal outcome. Teachers' kids/preachers' kids... not much difference. I got caught up in 'wanting to be liked' and did some inappropriate things. Academic and athletic abilities came naturally, yet my appreciation for them was diminished by my exploration into pot and hallucinogens. The drugs served two things - emotional escape and surprisingly a way to find a deeper connection with life - a paradox that seems to be prevalent in progressive lifestyles. Still some do not understand this path is only short-lived, a mere stepping stone on the way to enlightenment and not a destination by any stretch of the imagination. Unfortunately many get caught in the quagmire and never return to reality. Many more have moved on to greater accomplishments. I still find that I let secondary priorities affect my efforts to follow my true passions in life, which I sense is the norm for most of us. Daily living offers the chance of many opportunities which call for the ethical and moral considerations for self and others before acting on those choices.

    My second quarter in college started off with a real bang. I’d been dating a girl since my sophomore year in high school; ‘breaking up’ with her upon entering college because I was not sure I would be able to maintain monogamy. The first quarter brought some heavy emotional days of missing her so during quarter break I went back to ask her to marry me. I lost it after I found out she was already married, nearly a month prior. Guess my name was left off the wedding invitations list. I was an emotional basket case for a long time afterward. My heart sunk in devastation and I returned to school determined to give my life to something with meaning. In respect of this I knelt in prayer and asked 'Father' to know truth and was willing to die for it if necessary. It was the most intense prayer I’d ever made. A week later, while in meditation listening to 'In the Morning Day' on Journey’s first album, I heard a voice immediately after the lyrics of the song. It said, “Bruce, are you willing to die for what you believe in?” I paused for a moment, checking my beliefs (Christ in an 'expanded' view), and replied, “Yes.” Immediately I felt a tugging on my inner being. I let go and turned to see my body as I was moving away from it. O.B.Es were not unfamiliar, as I’d been having them since childhood. When I turned back to look where I was going, I was engulfed by white light. Personal ethics and personal leadership reached a defining moment in the stream of consciousness of my life.

    I was only missing tactile sensations inside the light and as an impetuous teen, I asked if there was more. I felt another sensation of movement and found myself in the center of a sphere of pinpoints of light. After recognizing them as points of consciousness, whether in body or not I was not sure as I sure as heck was not, the voice resumed. “These are those that you are to work with in order to facilitate the new world order. … trust and allow.” At the completion, I returned to my body with a rush of energy followed by a gasp for air, leaving my eyes closed temporarily while getting reacquainted with my body. Returning to my body was in itself a significant emotional event, let alone the previous few moments. I felt my question was answered and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, consequently told my parents, and found myself talking with a psychiatrist a week later. To this day I still seek answers to the questions remaining from this experience. A blessing in disguise, my tenure with the psychologist helped me to begin to balance my inner and outer experiences, and to find order in my life. I saw him twice before he reflected his findings to me.

    After a brief conversation on my third visit, where he revealed his values, morals and ethics in that he shared his view. I was not crazy by any stretch of the imagination. He said that I was going through a 'spiritual awakening' of classic nature, only that it usually happened when folks were in their 40's. He asked me to follow him and we adjourned to the second story of his office in a beautiful historic home in Anderson, Indiana. This resulted in my first tarot card reading, which edified all we had discussed and more. I was ecstatic and intimidated by the 'truth' this session revealed. His advice was to keep my mouth shut because few would understand, especially my adoptive parents who just could not relate to a spiritual awakening instead of a psychologically skewed son for whom they cared dearly and were frightened for his life. At the time I did not know that schizophrenia ran in my mother's family and fueled their fears. In time the psychiatrist said I would find 'flow' (congruency) with my experience and the world. So, I learned that there was much more beyond my understanding of ‘truth’ and it seemed to be leaning toward being everywhere I looked. It took a couple of decades or so to get the picture focused a little bit better, through a starting a family, a cross-country move landing in Phoenix, Arizona, and a professional career that took me into many different industries. Metaphysical experiences were even more profound during this period and I feel they even helped to drive a wedge between my wife and I, eventually resulting in our divorce after 12 years of being together and birthing four beautiful children. Releasing emotional attachment to that whole scenario was the most difficult experience I've had, yet the essence of it has guided my life continually. I know that all things are connected, we just need to understand how and that emotional attachments are vastly different from 'connections.'

    I had and still have many questions regarding this supposed 'mission' I have been given. How was this ‘facilitation of a new world order’ all going to come to fruition? What are the ethical and moral considerations for engaging others? My professional background has become fairly extensive yet pales in comparison to those I hold as icons and leaders in various professional fields. As professional opportunities presented themselves, I began to conceptualize an environment that would demonstrate leading edge technologies in all fields and how they would work together in harmony with people and planet. It had to include every best practice and element of a global community on a micro-community scale. Eventually the plan began to develop with enough detail that I could at least write an overview of the project, eventually becoming Genesis II. Some years later I met with Carl Bimson, a 91 year-old founder of a bank in Arizona, to share our Genesis II plan. He still had an office in the Valley National Bank building in downtown Phoenix and was available to talk with people by appointment. Mr. Bimson thought it was well thought out and suggested I go find the pieces. Quite unexpectedly, he then went on to explain how his wife's psychic gifts and card readings had helped tremendously in his business and banking career. What a shock that conversation was... He and two brothers facilitated about 70% of the business development in the progress of Arizona's growth.

    After some time of considering Carl's advice, I began my Master of Business Administration in project management in 1994 to continue the process of finding the pieces and knowing what to do with them when I did. Now, after achieving certification as a Hypnotherapist and in my second master's program, I seek to continue the plan and assemble an organizational plan, including all necessary policy development, organizational duties and responsibilities, and management philosophy that will empower the assemblage of a team of dedicated professionals to take Genesis to the next level of development. Meanwhile, we continue to develop Be The Dream (.biz, .com, .info, .org, .net, .tv, .ws), our bridge of nonprofit and for profit endeavors, as an exemplary leader on the Internet through demonstrating the concepts of the community in a microeconomic environment. In a sense we are connecting the dots of commerce, education and community through our Cultural Creative ways. Ideas and visions need to have creative outlets, which meant that I had to learn a new skill - web development. What is interesting is that I truly have no idea how these concepts will accepted, let along embraced, by the corporate and/or philanthropic community. I am just a guy with ideas and a vision.

    Over the years our values, morals and ethics moved us toward much development work and are we beginning to seek out potential backers and investors for the project. My personal ethics statement applies to the intrinsic dynamic of these projects, empowering results in our quest for success. Even though I've done extensive reading on a variety of subjects dealing with the socialization processes, actualizing these endeavors is proving to be quite the challenge, necessitating reflection on my personal code of ethics regularly. Am I really cut out for this? How do I/we engage others and fulfill their needs in the participative process? It is in this process that I am able to facilitate collaborative efforts in larger groups with others who have similar or congruent ethics and are doing something in their community about sharing them? This will continue to be a great challenge and hopefully secondary priorities will become less distracting and invasive. Faith in 'doing the right thing' is imperative throughout the process. I have learned that my own concept of 'time' and fruition is often incongruent with the 'divine' timing and I am reminded of the need for humility, releasing my personal criticisms of where I 'should' be now and allowing the faith and trust in the process to resolve all concerns. It becomes more apparent as we grow older that cleaning up, clearing up, and moving on with refined moral and ethical behavior is the key to success.... everywhere.be the dream, dream to reality, zen and robin

    Now, having joined with a compatible life partner, we have launched into this program together in order to 'force' ourselves to take the next steps in making our dreams reality. I moved on from education to Life Coaching as my 'next-step' in acquiring the skills necessary to help bridge inner and outer worlds in others. My partner is currently teaching gifted children in district school. We both tend to need to be in positions where we are compelled to do what is necessary because it is a requirement of the process. Some people work best that way. It seems that most successful people also follow this pattern of creating situations where they have to perform, meet deadlines and rise above the pack to achieve their dreams. Everything turns out to be a process as time goes on. Utilizing the Internet to help 'spread the word' will undoubtedly meet with mixed results. As much as I have learned and know there is much more that I do not. I feel awed and inspired by this discovery  process, engaged by the thrill of the next event. I have to rely on serendipity to move this project forward, where patience is a primary factor. I'm encouraged by the personal involvement and visionary efforts of a growing number of concern planetary citizenry, addressing the basic ethical and moral decisions within the scope of service to self and service to others. My hopes are that through this Master of Arts in Organizational Management program I will find more ways to make things real, practical and pragmatic, and continue to grow personally and professionally.









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values, morals, ethics, personal ethics, personal leadershipAbout the Author: Rev. Zen Benefiel is a multi-degreed author, coach, consultant and facilitator with a passion for education and facilitating partnerships. Zen experienced a spiritual awakening in 1975, an honors student in college, complete with a very profound near death experience. He founded Be The Dream, a sole-proprietorship consulting company, in 1988 as vehicle to promote holistic understanding in business and personal achievement. Be The Dream has transformed along with its founder to become a leader in establishing a new living awareness among seekers of harmony, truth and planetary stewardship. An international presenter on holistic project planning, he has co-created a vision for a holistic model community serving at-risk youth, called Spectrum Academy (www.spectrumacademy.org). Zen resides in Gilbert, Arizona.