Are you a politician, corporate executive, journalist, media personality, banker, scientist, doctor, teacher, spiritual or religious leader, or private citizen unsure whether your behavior is ethically appropriate?

If you can grasp this one simple principle, the Do-It-Ourselves Department of Ethics (DIO DOE) may be of help:


Every action and decision – no matter how large or small – has the potential to affect countless others – for better or worse. While unforeseen or unintentional harm can be difficult to avoid, potential good can be maximized by considering in advance those (or that) which may be affected, and earnestly analyzing whether the risks justify the gains.

Unfortunately, many publically-accessible entities to which one might once have turned for ethical guidance – government or religion, for example – have abandoned ethical frameworks entirely. In fact, captains of ships of state around the world – the United States being a primary example – have opted to favor only their wealthiest citizens, while relinquishing all responsibility for the less well as the health of the very planet itself. Likewise, many centers of worship have not only done away with doctrines that promote tolerance, cooperation, good will, and reciprocity, they have become powerful manufacturers of the very traits once widely considered unacceptable: divisiveness, bigotry, and selfishness.

Science – when conducted without influence by biased funding agents – can be relied upon to provide answers to many complex questions, but it is not intended to resolve sociological issues. The scientific method – vital to the develpment of sound experimental design and the production of reproducable results – contains no ethical standards. In fact, its tenet that the experimenter must strive to maintain as much objective distance from her or his subject as possible only serves to reinforce the widely-accepted notion that humans are separate – and even superior to – our fellow beings and the environment with which we are inextricably interrelated.

In light of the rapid decline in emphasis on the value of ethical frameworks for decision-making within culture, the following collection of questions and ideas are offered for exploration by anyone seeking guidance. Answers, however, are not provided; these must be arrived at through careful consideration by the inquirer.



ethics test enrique madrid

TX/Mexico border scholar/Jumano Apache historian Enrique Madrid invites visitors to consider their actions in light of the above three tenets. He also quotes from Walter Sinnott-Armstrong's book Morality Without God?: "To determine what is morally right we should ask who gets harmed, how, and how much. The debate should be about how to avoid and prevent harm."


“By learning, among many other things, to concentrate our attention, to control our thoughts, our desires, and emotions during the reading; to vanquish our laziness, always to finish what we start, not to get upset if the individual for whom we are reading refuses to grasp Consciousness, to do what we are doing the best we can, to eliminate vices and manias, to perform acts of generosity without witness, to purify the mind by eliminating superfluous interests without falling into either excessive self-criticism or excessive self-indulgence, consciously to give thanks for every gift, to meditate, to pray to the inner god, to contemplate, to have conversations with ourselves on profound themes, to develop their meanings, to stop defining ourselves, to know how to listen, to not lie to others or to ourselves, to not revel in our pain or agony, to help our neighbor without making him dependent, to not seek to be imitated, to make lucid use of time, to make work plans and accomplish them, to not take up too much space, to not squander, to not make useless noise, to not eat unhealthy food only for pleasure, to answer every question as honestly as possible, to overcome fear of life and death, to not only live in the here and now but in the elsewhere and after, never to abandon our children by watching over them from the time they were infants, to appropriate nothing or no one for ourselves, to share equitably, to not overadorn ourselves with clothing or objects out of vanity, to not deceive, to sleep only as much as is strictly necessary, not to follow styles, not to prostitute ourselves, to respect scrupulously every signed contract and every promise made, to be punctual, not to envy the success of others, to say just what needs to be said, not to think of the benefits of a work but to love the work for itself, never to threaten or curse, to put ourselves in the shoes of the other, to make every moment a teacher, to want our children to do better than we did and to accept their success, to teach the consultants how to learn from themselves, to overcome pride by changing it into dignity, anger into creativity, avarice into wisdom, envy into admiration for beauty, hate into generosity, lack of faith into universal love; not to applaud or insult ourselves, not to complain about ourselves, not to give orders for the pleasure of compelling obedience, not to contract debts, never to speak badly of others, not to keep useless objects, and first and foremost, never to act in your own name but in that of the inner god.”

Alejandro Jodorowsky and Marianne Costa
“The Way of the Tarot: The Spiritual Teacher in the Cards” p. 429-430

SEE ALSO: 82 Commandments for Successful Living, Courtesy of Alejandro Jodorowsky




The Iroquois Nation (Haudenosaunee) People recognize that each person is a link in a chain of ancestors that extends back into the past and far into the future. They ask what effect present actions are likely to have on the "seventh generation" – approximately 150 years into the future.

The seven triangles in the Department of Ethics logo acknowledge this principle.


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