Ethics is Not for Wimps

I’m a longtime fan of Michael Josephson. He’s the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, and provides the  “Character Counts” segments to which I listen on KNX radio here in Los Angeles. (He’s also the uncle of a close friend of mine, but I didn’t know that until long after I became a devoted listener.) As the parent of college-age child, I found today’s segment particularly timely and useful:

Let’s be honest. Ethics is not for wimps. It’s not easy being a good person.

It’s not easy to be honest when it might be costly, to play fair when others cheat, or to keep promises that are inconvenient.

It’s not easy to stand up for our beliefs and still respect differing viewpoints.

It’s not easy to control powerful impulses, to be accountable for our attitudes and actions, to tackle unpleasant tasks, or to sacrifice the now for later.

It’s not easy to bear criticism and learn from it without getting angry, to take advice, or to admit error.

It’s not easy to feel genuine remorse and apologize sincerely or to accept an apology graciously and truly forgive.

It’s not easy to stop feeling like a victim, to resist cynicism, or to make the best of every situation.

It’s not easy to be consistently kind, to think of others first, to judge generously, or to give the benefit of the doubt.

It’s not easy to be grateful or to give without concern for reward or gratitude.

It’s not easy to fail and still keep trying, to learn from failure, to risk failing again, to start over, to lose with grace, or to be glad of another’s success.

It’s not easy to look at ourselves honestly and be accountable, to avoid excuses and rationalizations, or to resist temptations.

No, being a person of character is not easy. That’s why it’s such a lofty goal and an admirable achievement.

To learn more about JII, and the various programs that have to instill ethics in both students and professionals, please visit their website at


  1. I’m going to print that out so that I can remember it – brilliant. I always try and give people the benefit of the doubt which has stood me in good stead both professionally and personally. xx

  2. I wish more people in public discourse would learn to “stand up for our beliefs and still respect differing viewpoints”—but then, how would Fox News and MSNBC continue to exist? Hmm….

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