The Boeing case: Not Boeing’s fault! It is our ethics!

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Boeing airplane [Source]

Last week several emails exchanged between Boeing employees were revealed, in which those employees seemed to know about the problems of the 737 MAX airplane and even ridicule the authorities and the airlines for believing them that there were no problems. The investigation is ongoing.
One cannot of course know from now the result of the investigation. However the comment I would like to make has nothing to do with that per se. What I would like to comment is the all increasing cases of corporate scandals at the highest levels and of the highest severity, severity which only seems to increase as time passes.

The Enron case…

The mortgages scandal…

Apple and sweatshops in China…

Cambridge Analytica…

Boeing and the 737 MAX…

More and more we are being held witness to grand corporations breaking the law or bending it to a point where lives, the economy at a large scale or basic human rights are at stake.

Why does this happen?

Viewing this as a result of ad hoc errors, miscalculations, or even one-time fraudulent behavior by specific “bad” people who are not the norm simply won’t do it. No, the exceptions are becoming more and more and we have to consider whether the rule we believe that applies truly holds. Are big corporations really ethical? CAN they be ethical in a place where profit is the one and only goal?

The answer is a simple NO.

And this answer also offers an insight on WHY those incidents take place, while offering us a glimpse to the future as well. The western man’s dream is that of making money. We have for a long time now lost connection with basic spirituality. We have lost touch with those principles which actually make us humans and have relied on an arbitrary tool (money) to define our happiness. This may sound corny, but it is true.

Trading was thought of as an inferior activity in ancient Greece. Traders were treated as inferior people during the era where philosophy flourished. Answering the metaphysical questions of humanity seemed more important than selling things and generating profit for Aristotle and Plato. Can you blame them? The Byzantine Empire also held trade in low esteem; actually charging for interest was not allowed back then.

And then came Protestantism. And then people started trading. And then people started making money. And from that point onward, nothing else mattered. I am not blaming Protestantism for Boeing of course. If it wasn’t that, it would any other religious movement that would be used by people to make an excuse for their need to wealth and power, instead of the need of the cosmos for us to stay humble and accepting (Christian values).

Related article: The source of Ethics

We want control and power. We wish for more when we have enough. And after we get it, we want even more. Greediness and arrogance is what characterizes us. And there is no end in the tunnel. That is why no matter how successful one company is, it does not seem to have enough. And there is no way to get more and more by legal means. There is always a limit to how much money a company can earn in a regulated environment, let alone an environment with ethical values (we don’t such environment, just saying). So it is logical and expected that big companies tried to find a way to circumvent rules and regulations to achieve their (almost by definition) un-achievable goals.

Who sets these goals?
Society.
Who forms society?
You. The man next to you. Everyone.

No, again I am not saying that you and me are to be blamed for critical flaws that Boeing hid from the authorities. Just should be served in that case. However everyone is to blame for the way everyone puts money and profits in the throne of the King. If everyone sees success in profits and failure is lack of them, then it is only logical that companies would try to get more of them.

Wait a minute! you could say. When we celebrate successful companies for having profits, we do so with the assumption that the profits would be made legally! No one approves of a company breaking the law or making profits the wrong way!

But this is what is great here! Most of the above cases were conducted either legally (e.g. Cambridge Analytica) or on the verge of the boundary between legal and illegal (e.g. the mortgages scandal or Apple and its factories in China)! If Apple has factories with people working under gruesome conditions in a country which allows such conditions, is that illegal? If a bank provides mortgages to people who cannot repay but everything is approved as per the bank processes and the regulators say nothing and then others are buying derivatives based on those mortgages isn’t the whole system to blame? If the FAA approved the 737 MAX is it Boeing to blame? If the airlines approved the fact that no training was needed for this completely new plane, is it Boeing to blame? Or also the whole culture of “Profit is the King”?

So no, the legal or illegal character of the actions is not what those scandals have in common. Law can be circumvented or changed (for better or worse). There is something much fundamental and much darker lurking in the depths of our degraded era…

How could an airline consider not having any training in simulators for a plane with such changes, only because there didn’t want to pay for this training? How could people profit on loans on homeless people only to earn some more money? How could the European regulator blindly trust the FAA for a new plane which would carry lives in the sky?

Can you start seeing that something lurking in the dark taking shape?
Performing such actions and at that level, especially actions which affect human lives and the basic human rights, is conducted not only because either the law or the regulatory authorities processes have holes. The biggest cause for all of the above, is the big holes we have in our ethical foundations. Because no matter how many excuses a company or a person can find based on the law or the regulations, there are would be no excuses if there existed a solid ethical foundation to which everyone should comply with. Even cases which were clearly illegal from the first minute and which resulted in people getting in prison (as in the Enron case), would be completely avoidable if ethics were instilled in society as a whole. If the King was declared naked.

No, PROFIT is not the ultimate goal!

Do that sound corny? Yes. And I do not care. It is ethics we need. Not profits. The more we look only at those the more such scandals as the above will increase and increase with no end in sight. Why stop at 10 billion dollars profit when you can make 20? Why stop at 20 when you can make 50?

Who could provide this ethical foundation?

Well, for this we can re-iterate the beginning of this article…

“Trading was thought of as an inferior activity in ancient Greece”…

Do you see now?

We have lost our grasp of what is right and what is wrong. We have broken our moral compass (God) a long time ago. And now we are just wandering with no goal except the goals we set…

And still…

That dark shape in the dark is afraid…

Of us listening to the voice we used to listen to…

“Thou shalt not lie”…

Worms under the Golden Palm… (How movies are a testament to our lower ethical values)

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Photo by David Bartus from Pexels

I have recently seen the South Korean movie “Parasite”, which has recently won also the 2019 Palme d’Or in Cannes Film Festival. As many view the movie as good, which I do too, some also pinpointed the philosophical and sociological questions posed by the movie.

WARNING: Spoilers for the movie “Parasite” and “Joker” will follow!

In short, the movie shows how some low-class people infiltrate the cosmos of a high-class family to earn their trust and money. The plot quickly escalates: The infiltrators initially start with forging some papers to get a job and they finally end up killing people under some very peculiar circumstances.

As the movie tries to show the extremely difficult situation in which the protagonists’ family lives in, it is easy to see it as an attempt to justify – or at least explain – their actions. Extreme poverty and lack of options do provide (at least for some people) a justification for actions which are portrayed by the official justice system as ‘criminal’. However this is not only wrong, but could also be dangerous in the context of a society.

What I do agree with, is that tough society conditions could be a way to explain why someone is behaving in a criminal way. But this explanation has limitations: it is only an explanation and not a justification or an excuse. To elaborate more on this: Harsh conditions make it more probable that someone will behave immorally, but that does not make this right! Sure, if you are very poor you could have more chances to be bad and you would easily have more motivation to do so in order to feed your family for example, but that wouldn’t remove a pinch from the immorality of your actions if those are such. This explanation is what your lawyer would invoke in the court to get you a better sentence, but they would not be accepted as an excuse by a higher authority (call me God). Unless of course you repent which is a different story.

Wait a minute! someone might object. We were talking about criminal actions and now you mention God! How did that happen!?

Well, as I have elaborated in the article “The source of ethics”, there is no point in talking ethics and morality outside the realm of God. In a godless world, there is no point in discussing anything actually. If there is no higher authority setting the standards, we might as well set our own and everything goes! Is that nihilistic? Yes. It is. As is our current society.

The highest standards for morality were set on Earth by Jesus Christ. It is in relation to those standards that we are to compare our actions. He is the measure we should use, not the measure that fits us best. No matter what the excuse (“I was poor”, “I was under stress”, “I had to eat and was so hungry” etc), an evil action is an evil action. Of course – and this is obvious – we are not in the mind of either Jesus or God. So we could not be certain for which actions are actually moral and which are not, although we do have some good indications. For example we all agree that killing is something bad no matter what. You are poor and killed someone? I don’t care. You shouldn’t. (For Jesus it would be evil perhaps even to think about killing someone, but let’s stick to the basics now)

This lowering of our standards is exactly the problem of this movie and with many other movies nowadays. Joker for example also portrays a picture of an ill man who does what he does because of bad society. At the end, the criminal is almost shown as a hero who managed to stand up against the evil of modern society who brought him to the position he was in. Again, for Christ this would not work as an excuse. Sorry Joker. A sequel of “Parasite” would easily be the trial of the protagonists and them going to jail for the crimes they did. But again, that wouldn’t sell much. (And that is perhaps the problem for everything we see lately in the cinema)

Man should always strive for the best.

Theosis should be our ultimate goal.

Unless of course we believe we are worms.Crawling in the dirt.Watching movies…Under a gold palm tree…

Decline in religion, decline in morality.

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Religious decline does not equal moral decline, says researcher. [1]

How original.

Stupid prejudiced science reaches to stupid prejudiced conclusions.

We must be careful to compare things with the same standards. Morality has not declined based on our standards now, because our standards have demised into a pulp of liberalism. But morality and ethics is not the pulp which exists inside the “progressive” heads of some atheists (a.k.a. subjective ethics based on the beliefs of every man – except Christians of course).

Ethics is the FOUNDATION of society for thousands of years.

And with shifting foundations only one thing can ultimately happen.

Collapse.

Do you feel the tremble?

No, it’s not your stomach…