Jul 112012

Last week, I discussed the research of James W. Fowler, a Methodist minister, into the developmental stages of faith. Dr. Fowler built his ideas on the pattern of Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. This is also worth considering.

Dr. Kohlberg found that moral development was revealed by one’s attitudes toward justice and how one reasoned on, and resolved, moral dilemmas. Related research identified justice as a masculine orientation and added caring as the corresponding feminine. At each stage of development, our moral behavior becomes more responsible, nuanced, and predictable.

Young children (and some poorly-developed adults) judge the morality of an action by its immediate consequences. Snatching a cookie or running a stop sign are just fine so long as you are not caught and punished. The focus is on personal benefit without considering ethical standards. Obedience can only be enforced with the threat of punishment.

The next stage is able to consider the needs of others, but only to the point of  deciding how to get what one wants. This is the “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” attitude of moral relativity.

Adolescents usually begin to judge the morality of a situation according to the expectations of authorities within their culture. They are willing to comply obediently because they are convinced that “it is the right thing.” This rigid morality typically views things very strictly in terms of “black and white.” A “good boy” or “good girl” conforms to accepted social roles. Morality is usually judged by intent and how an action affects relationships.

Some people understand that social order requires voluntary compliance to the standards of their community. They accept that laws must be obeyed and personal sacrifices made because it is their duty. They will stop at all stop signs simply because it is the right thing to do and because it sets a good example for others.

As it becomes obvious that different cultures hold different expectations, laws become regarded as adjustable social contracts within each community. The most important consideration becomes an understanding of “the greatest good for the greatest number of people.” The operation of an effective Democracy requires this understanding and acceptance of compromise as inevitable for the common good.

Eventually, moral reasoning stops being derived from others; it depends on an individual appreciation for ethical abstractions and universal principles. This is not the same as moral relativity. Each person becomes responsible for deciding that he or she cannot march neighbors into gas chambers, no matter what. If a law is unjust, there is an obligation to disobey it. There are fewer arguments about rights, but more empathetic consideration of what is right. This stage is still considered rare.

© 2012, David Satterlee

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May 112012

Ushahidi’s director of crisis mapping, Patrick Meier, and Meta-Activism Project founder Mary Joyce are collaborating on a project to update and add to Gene Sharp’s 198 “Methods of Nonviolent Action,” a manual for civil resistance, with ways these techniques could be adjusted for the 21st century. Together with other contributors, they’re managing a spreadsheet in Google Docs with each of 198 methods from the pioneering researcher in protest and activism. For each — and a few new ones added on — they’re listing ways the traditional method could be tweaked to take advantage of new technology, and ways that those methods could be completely reinvented.

For example, Joyce updated Sharp’s method number 175 — “overloading of facilities” — to suggest that a distributed denial of service attack is an equivalent action for the Internet age. In a “DDoS” attack, so much Internet traffic is directed at a given site that it is unable to handle the load and either performs poorly for visitors or can’t be viewed at all.


Continue reading »

May 042012

In these contemporary days of protest (Occupy et. al.) it is timely to remember the four students killed and twelve wounded. Your hippie grandparents were not all about free sex and drugs. They stood for freedom, justice, and responsibility. Today, don’t forget to invite them to your nonviolent events… and talk with them about values, virtues, civic involvement, and the common good.

Thanks to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young for “Ohio.”

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Jun 072011

Very few people now alive have had the experience of what I think of as “Real War.” Oh, we still use the word “war,” but it doesn’t seem to carry the same sense of dramatic finality that it formerly did. War, and our thinking about war, has gotten soft. Our changing values affect the way we respond to the victors and victims of war.

These days, our wars tend to earn euphemisms such as: border skirmish, police action, regime change, nation building, civil uprising, popular revolution, government standoff, and gorilla opposition. Similarly, killing becomes: targeting, eliminating, taking out, and collateral damage because the idea is too repulsive to be named as what it is without shame. We rarely see Group A attacking Group B with the intent of killing or enslaving everyone and taking all of their land and property. And, of course, Real War only begets more war. Yeah, Real War used to really mean something. Continue reading »

Sep 242010

Benjamin Franklin’s Goals of Virtue


– Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.


– Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.


– Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.


– Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.


– Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing.


– Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.


– Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; speak accordingly.


– Wrong none by doing injuries; or omitting the benefits that are your duty.


– Avoid extremes; forebear resenting injuries so much as you think deserve.


– Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.


– Be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common or unavoidable.


– Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.


Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Feb 142010
Source: “Authentic Happiness,” Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., Chapter 5

Gratitude Survey

(Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons)

1 = Strongly disagree – 7 = Strongly agree

  1. I have so much in life to be thankful for.
  2. If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list.
  3. When I look at the world, I don’t see much to be grateful for.
  4. I am grateful to a wide variety of people.
  5. As I get older, I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events, and situations that have been part of my life history.
  6. Long amounts of time can go by before I feel grateful to something or someone.

(Reverse scores on 3, 6)
6-35 Lower Quarter, 36-38 bottom half, 39-41 top four, 42 top eighth

Gratitude journal

Suggestion to keep a record for 14 days, noting the things for which you are grateful. Racket the exercise with the Life Satisfaction and General Happiness scales to compare scores. But

Feelings about the past depend on memory interpretation and assigned meaning. Gratitude amplifies good feelings about the past. The opposite is also true.

As a South African leader, Nelson Mandela redirected past bitterness toward reonciliation.

Some believe that righteous anger honors the victim and promotes justice.

How to forgive – REACH

  • Recall the hurt objectively
  • Empathize with others
  • Altruistically give the gift of forgiveness
  • Commit to forgive publicly
  • Hold onto forgiveness that

Weighing up your life

Find a time annually to evaluate your life satisfaction and compare it with previous years.


3 ways to feel happier about the past

  • Intellectual-determined that the past does not dictate your future
  • Become more grateful for the good things in your past
  • Learn how to forgive past wrongs
Nov 262009

Source: Integral Institute – Scholars

Mark James Fischler, JD, contributed to Integral Law studies and is now a former New Hampshire Public Defender and Guardian Ad Litem who now teaches as a full-time faculty member of the Plymouth State University Criminal Justice Department in Plymouth, NH.

Source: Integral Life Contributors

image Mark James Fischler has been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses at Plymouth State University in Plymouth NH since 2003. His focus is ethics and criminal procedure.  Mark has written papers and given presentations on what is integral law from a theoretical and practical perspective, some of which can be found in the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice.

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice
B.A., Political Science  University of New Hampshire; J.D., University of Maine

Before becoming a professor Mark worked as a N.H. Public Defender representing poor people accused of a crime for 3.5 years. Mark also did work as a Guardian Ad Litem for a year. In addition to his undergraduate degree in political science and his juris doctor of law he is also graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College of Dubois Wyoming, and the National Criminal Defense College in Macon Georgia. Mark is also trained in divorce mediation. While in Law School Mark won the New England Law School Trial Advocacy Competition with his partner and was awarded the Trial Advocacy award from the University of Maine School of law.