Not Exactly Child’s Play
We begin this week with a nod to the impact of ethical (or unethical) decision-making on the world’s children. As back to school time approaches, children should be thinking about returning to learning and classmates in a safe, affordable, and fair environment. This list offers a mix. Two stories firmly remind just how far unethical-decision-making can go, here beyond unethical to the unconscionable. Three show inspirational decisions supporting children in the some of the most world’s most dire circumstances.
- A nine-year old shooting an Uzi at a gun range in Las Vegas, with parents’ permission, accidentally killed her instructor. The decisions that led to a nine year old holding an assault weapon are beyond unethical. They are unconscionable…whatever the law allows and whatever past experience with gun safety at the range may claim. CNN Coverage.
- What if it had been your child? Over 1,400 children were sexually abused in one small British town of only approximately 250,000 between 1997-2013. According to the BBC, Rotherham police failed to act on sexual abuse as a crime. Facts unraveling indicate that police and child welfare authorities had substantial knowledge. One investigative report by author Professor Alexa Jay described three earlier reports with clear conclusions and “a very great deal of detail” such as the “names of potential perpetrators” and “car registration number.” Professor Jay notes, “Really by April 2005, it seemed to me that nobody could say ‘I didn’t know.”’ It is hard to fathom what competing interests could possibly drive such knowingly unethical – again unconscionable – decisions. Suggested explanations such as fear of accusations of racism (because many of the perpetrators were allegedly Pakistani) suggest this: there are no valid explanations for disregarding sexual abuse of children. Ever. There are no competing principles. There is competing cowardice, laziness, incompetence, and complete failure of ethical decision-making. Links: BBC Coverage, ITV Coverage
- NBC’s headline “Ebola outbreak: how do you comfort a dying child” by Maggie Fox: Our heart breaks for all Ebola victims and their families, the health experts caring for them, and their communities. Our admiration for the ethical decision quagmires that the heroic aid workers, as well as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other multilaterals, NGOs, citizens at risk, and governments involved, are making knows no bounds. NBC Coverage.
- Listen up! Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste: This week’s Financial Times Weekend Magazine is a must read…and listen. In Kinshasa, where extreme poverty and “quotidian” and “unmerciful” pain define a significant proportion of the population’s lives, an orchestra called the Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra made decisions that reach souls, likely prevent violence and a host of other ills, and offer opportunity for young people. One 13-year old had no idea what an orchestra was before joining but has now become a first violinist. This is the right kind of reputation enhancement through ethical decision-making: the OSK is now internationally renowned. It is also a model of “no excuses” for failing to seize ethics as a strategic opportunity. Rehearsing happens between parked cars. In the beginning “One musician would keep the violin; one would keep the bow” according to the orchestra’s founder. Play on!
- Oscar winning actor Matt Damon in a CNBC interview about Water.org, the organization he co-founded with Gary White to bring safe drinking water to children, recounts that water brings play time: When asking a 12-year old girl what she would do with all her spare time now that she didn’t have to spend so much of it fetching and carrying water from a distant spigot, Matt Damon assumed her answer would be “study more.” Instead, she responded, “I don’t need to study more. I’m already at the top of my class. I’m going to PLAY.” CNBC Interview
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