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Way to go! By the way, I forgot about how long it takes some computers to download the images so I took them off the FDA site.

I am glad you expanded on the fundamental issue that being alive and a participant in the world requires you to practice ethics. Unfortunately so many people grow up thinking that "ethics" is a thing you place on your mess after you acted, like a band aide.

This perception is rampant. I hear CEOs and wage grade employees expressing that idea. Ethics is a system for analyzing "intentions," "actions" and "consequences" in order to make decisions that do less harm than they do good. The values behind this are a desire to to good and an abhorence of doing harm, benificence and nonmaleficence. I threw the words in so real ethicists can see that I am esoteric too.

A lot of us can equate with a similar analytical concept that comes from business, where folks equate the value of their actions based on the ratio of the cost of investment to the profit (or losses) that investment/action may yield.

Your treatise is sprinkled with some human behavior that interferes with making ethical decisions using "Situational Ethics." If a person has a hard time taking responsibility for his actions and tends to transfer it to whoever seems likely, his ability to use ethics will be flawed.

The same is true of a person who is really not free to make choices. For example, a person who is addicted to a controlled substance or some form of dysfunctional behavior really does not have a level playing field to act out his "ethics." The weight is always on the overwhelming need generated by the habit, so the analysis of actions and consequences gets pitched before all of the ramifications are worked out.

Greed or abject poverty will have the same effect on using ethics, or maybe those too are also part of dysfunctional behavior. I hate what has happened to being sensitive to people's situations now that we have the word "politically correct." It trivializes consideration the way "ethnic cleansing" trivializes mass murder.

This leads me to some thoughts I had while watching Roger Rosenblatt and others chat about Littleton and Columbine High on the Evening News with Jim Lehrer last night. Everyone puts his own spin on the causes of the mass murder the two boys perpetrated. Of course, they couldn't have done it if there was no way they could get guns, but that is not the whole story.

One of the former graduates of Columbine High is now a writer in NY. I read his essay in the Washington Post about the community of Littleton and Columbine High.

He said he did not notice that it was a "community." Certainly, not like we remembered FawCawnahs or Westerleigh. He said everything is fragmented into isolated pockets based on superficial distinctions. What kind of SUV you drive, where your house is and whether you wear a base ball cap or a black trench coat.

What he did not say was how you saw yourself as a part of the "community." What community? He said there wasn't any central focus to the place or the school. There wasn't anything there that an artist would want to paint to reflect the uniqueness of community. The school was in a relatively isolated area away from the homes and the homes were segregated into pockets. Separation was based on how much geld you had in your pocket, or how much geld you wish you had.

One of the speakers said that America had seen similar periods when and where violence with guns was higher per capita than we see it today. He mentioned the gold rush.

The gold rush caused people to leave their communities to go to a new place, create a "community" somewhere overnight and then these folks spent all their time away from their houses completely absorbed with getting rich.

Maybe the problem with Littleton is that people were there because of something other than "making a living, raising a family, interacting with neighbors of different ages and being concerned about how your town fairs." To a lot of the people concerned in the Columbine event, family was sort of an afterthought, or everyone was escaping from places where they had transferred the responsibility for problems in their family. Maybe teaching values and ethics was something they did not demonstrate by their actions but were hoping to apply some day like a band aide.

But, it was too late for that when 15 died because some kids never learned to think about consequences before they acted.

Art Anderson

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