Spiritual ethics of survival

Spiritual ethics of survival February 12, 2013

Self-employment or working for someone isn’t about professional achievement and fulfillment. If you’re a rose-colored eyeglass wearing idealist then, OK, it’s primarily about them. Realistically, it’s about survival.

Although most hope for job satisfaction, the reality of life is about food, shelter, and clothes. Love, family, friendship and companionship bring joy, happiness and emotional comfort, at least theoretically. How an individual chooses to survive and provide for his or her family, raises ethical and moral issues.

This speaks to spiritual ethics – an honest, humble understanding of one’s individual creation and being true to it by living and applying values without harm to others. There is a transcendental element requiring a big picture perspective of one’s place in life and the wider community.

From a family surviving the ravages of World War II and Nazi-forced labor there were personal lessons I gleaned from childhood. Life is difficult. There are no guarantees. Don’t debate with God about injustice or complain life is unfair. Change the world for the better and your place in it when possible, but be realistic. Work hard and never survive at someone’s expense. If you try to do right by others you may, by Divine grace and only by grace, go to a better place upon leaving this life, though don’t assume you’re entitled to it for showing kindness or doing good deeds.

Perspective and life experiences have added to these early lessons:

  • The phrase, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” is grossly overrated. The experience, however, can provide valuable perspective, if you don’t become angry and bitter about it.
  • Success has many definitions and need not be economic or professional in nature. However success is defined, it always comes with a price.
  • Fairness toward others, even though not likely to be reciprocated, is a virtue.
  • Free choice is not nearly as free as most have been conditioned to believe.
  • Hubris is one of the most destructive demons. Always be on guard for it.
  • Fear to let go of the familiar and move on is destructive.
  • Curiosity did kill the cat, but kitty was reckless.

The sojourner has an endless road ahead. In life, choices must be made. In some cases, the sojourner surrenders the choice to indecision with mixed results. Sometimes circumstances and unforeseen events impact decisions.

Spiritual ethics blends questions about right and wrong with a person’s place in a larger universal order. The individual is drawn by spiritual ethics to matters of living and surviving in the world as it is, not as it should be.

Paul Jesep is an attorney, corporate chaplain, and author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis”. © PJesep 2013.

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