Monthly Archives: July 2009

Can there be a universal morality

In my course of Ethics and Technology; and in my previous blog; i note that many ethical frameworks are coming to the conclusion that ethics in Information Technology are based on individualistic morals (due to the nature of technology), and that in order to have a governing ethical framework in technology, there must be universals (not unlike in real life). 

The question was asked “How does one find the standards for the universal” – I can’t answer that question in a 250-500 word essay; therefore – I provided only hints to my answer, without giving my answer.

C.S. Lewis writes in book one of Mere Christianity:

“Everyone has heard people quarrelling. Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant… They say things like this: ‘How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?’ – ‘Come on you promised.’ People say things like that every day, educated … as well as uneducated… children… [and] grown-ups.”

“Now what interests me… is that the man who makes [these statements] is not merely saying that the other man’s behavior does not … please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard… and the other man seldom replies: ‘To hell with your standard.’” (Lewis, 2009, p. 257)

Lewis later states:

“Now this Law or Rule about Right and Wrong used to be called the Law of Nature… because people thought that everyone knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it… I know that some people say the idea of a Law of Nature … is unsound… but the most remarkable thing is this. Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later… if you try breaking [a promise] to him, he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair’ (Lewis, 2009, p. 285).”

On the idea of whether or not there are universal laws, Lewis concludes:

“It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong (Lewis, 2009, p. 300).”

For me, I agree with Lewis, as he continues further on in book one: that in order to come to a conclusion of a universal set of right and wrong; one must find a standard to measure against. This standard must also exist necessarily outside of oneself in order to be appealed to universally. Therefore, I believe one of the most important decisions that can be made to help move towards a global view of Right and Wrong must first start with a common standard.

This of course, is where the difficulty begins; as all discussions of morality begin in trying to lay a foundation of moral framework (i.e. what is the standard to be considered right or wrong). Some more common frameworks are deontological, utilitarian and existential, all of which have their supporters and their oppositions.

As this topic is very complex; and cannot be addressed by anything short than a doctoral thesis; I will briefly say that I would have to state that a good starting point is the “Golden Rule”: Treat others as you want to be treated. This, I believe, at least points us in the right direction.

References

Lewis, C. S. (2009). Mere Christianity. HarperCollins e-books (Kindle Edition).

How to give children a moral compass in Cyberspace

Within cyberspace where people roam with little to no immediate governing restrictions, how does one impress on the youth and young adults that are developing their moral compass what is acceptable from a moral and ethical perspective?

Nancy Willard points out in her article Moral Development in the Information Age that the framework of the Internet has been designed such that it is disconnected and decentralized. As a result; no one agency can effectively police and dictate morality and ethical responsibility, therefore decisions are widely left up to individuals (Willard, 1997).

Because of four key factors that Willard points out in her article, namely: a) Lack of affective feedback; b) reduced fear of risk of detection; c) New environment requires new rules; and d) perceptions of social injustice (Willard, 1997), it seems that it is difficult for individuals to make the transition between the “real world” and the “digital world”. And because morality and ethics in cyberspace are driven mainly off of individual decisions, it becomes even more paramount that these issues be address during the growth and development of today’s youth (Willard, 1997).

As a result; I believe that first and foremost in order to expand morality and ethics into the Information Age, there must be an agreement to the ideals of universal propositions, like those defined by Turiel: concepts of Justice, rights and welfare (Willard, 1997).

Apart from this central foundation, according to further studies by Hoffman and Baumrind, in order to teach internalized moral responsibility, it is imperative that parents, teachers and other influential men and women begin to help children and young adults focus on the consequences of their actions based on these universals, rather than focusing on the responsibility to follow a set of rules (Willard, 1997).

By means of this approach, we prepare the future generation to mature in their own idealizations of what is morally acceptable and unacceptable even in a world where boundaries are largely determined by individualistic principles (Willard, 1997), and where unexplored moral challenges present themselves frequently.

References

Willard, N. (1997). Moral Development in the Information Age. Retrieved July 30, 2009, from http://tigger.uic.edu/~lnucci/MoralEd/articles/willard.html

Wow God!

My new mantra must become “Less of self and more of you Lord!”.

God seems to delight (for our own good I must admit) in placing us in a position where we have exhausted all human possibilities; and therefore divine intervention is all that is left; take for example, my day today.

We received our completed dossier from our lawyer and friend Clifford Knaggs, however, USPS is like a turtle, and it took 3 days for it to be shipped to us. 

Clifford is going to Haiti next week; and if we wanted to get our paperwork submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the rest of his current clients, we had to have our paperwork sealed by the Haitian Consulate before he left, giving him ample time to review the documents one last time.

So this morning we got up and waited to call the Consulate when they opened up.  They informed us that if we could be there by noon they could get our paperwork done for us today.

Boston is almost a 3.5 hour trip for us; and by the time I wrapped up what I was working on at work, and the kids were ready it was already almost 10.  We were now scheduled to arrive a little after 1 – but calling the consulate they said 1 was ok.

We got in the car and raced away.  On the way though we realized that we needed to get money out of our bank TD Bank north; so we had  stop and find a bank to get a money order.

Back in the car, we now realized that our Tom Tom said that we wouldn’t arrive in Boston until 2 o’clock.  The Consulate closes at three.  We knew that if we didn’t get the paperwork sealed today, and overnight shipped back to Clifford, there was very little chance that we would get into MOFA within the next month or two.

We were hungry, thirsty and already tired and very much stressed, and this extra revelation that we were probably not going to make it was so very frustrating and overwhelming.

You see, we have been doing absolutely everything we can in regards to time and money and effort to make our paperwork go as quickly as possible.  As an example; we took our 2 week Christmas vacation to complete our home study – what usually takes people a couple months to complete.  We’ve made numerous trips to Portland, and Boston and Connecticut and even Haiti just to try and get a few papers signed in person as quickly as possible.  We’ve paid for the best possible resources to help us work through this whole process (and it’s come at a high cost).  We’ve spent almost every ounce of vacation this year working on processing our adoption as quickly as possible, because we ache to have our children come home.  And yet, even with all of that; it is going on 8 months that we started our paperwork – we want our children home with us… it’s heartbreaking.  🙁

So, as we drove down the road today, realizing that there was a high possibility that we had another few months to go before we could get into the legal system in Haiti, Amanda began to weep; and I was choking back tears of my own. 

And at that moment, I said to God; “God, I feel assured that this is your plan for us, that you have asked us to do this, that you are with us.  Therefore, I know that everything that happens, happens for a reason.  I’m asking you, please, let this fall together, so we can continue to move ahead, but I accept your will.”

Little did I know, that through her tears, Amanda was saying the same thing.

And then, I noticed this little car that we had already passed once, that we began passing again (because it had a cross hanging in the rear view mirror).  And this time, for whatever reason, I took a closer look at this car; and on the back bumper there was a sticker that read: “DO NOT WORRY; GOD IS IN CONTROL”.  It’s like I wasn’t paying attention enough the first time, I hadn’t gotten the point; so God was giving me another chance.

Amanda and I both saw this; like a clear voice out of heaven, he wiped away our anxieties.

In Boston we were stuck in stupid ridiculous traffic; and got to the Consulate at about 2:15, and yet, they still agreed to do our paperwork for us!!

Also, we had been fretting about finding our TD Banknorth bank, and a FedEx to ship out the paperwork; and lo-and-behold; there was a TD Banknorth right next to the consulate and a FedEx right next to that (even though TD Bank told us there was no TD Bank in Boston… go figure).  It was like God was reminding us that He doesn’t send his workers out unprepared; that when He asks of us, He will provide.  I’ve read many books about people with the faith to know and accept this, people that would have drove right into Boston knowing that God would provide.  I don’t have that faith yet – Lord, increase my faith!

 

So, after dropping Amanda off and driving around for almost an hour; I found a parking space; and took the children into the Consulate.  They wouldn’t let me in at the front door, because it was 3:05.  However, after a call to Amanda, the Vice Consulate called and asked the front door to let us up. I got to meet and talk with the Vice Consulate General of Haiti Mr. Jean Joseph Leandre, what a nice fellow, and what an honor.

As we were leaving though, I decided to review our paperwork and found there was one piece of paper the Consulate office wouldn’t stamp because it was sealed in Florida, and convention said that we should have the Miami Consulate stamp that paper; although the Miami Consulate told Clifford that we could have it done in Boston, the Boston Consulate was not willing to do it – stating that it just wouldn’t be proper to step on Miami’s toes.

I called Clifford; who asked to speak to the ladies in the office; after some time of chatting, they handed the phone back to me and Clifford said they had agreed to do it.  Clifford is awesome!  Thank you ladies!

So we ran over to FedEx and got the papers in the mail for a 10am delivery (that’s about 9 hours from now). 

It seems like God continues to do this to us – perhaps if we learned our lesson, He wouldn’t have to.  He keeps putting us in these impossible situations, I think to make us realize that He is in control, not us; that if we do what He asks of us, but rely on Him to complete what He has started, that we wouldn’t have to feel like it all rests on our shoulder’s – that He would show that He is God, and will glorify His name.

Thank you Lord for once again reminding me.  Don’t worry, You are in control!

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God (Mat 5:3, TM).

Benediksyon pou moun ki konnen se pòv yo ye devan Bondye, paske peyi Wa ki nan syèl la, se pou yo li ye. (Mat 5:3, BibLa)

Paperwork .. Hurrah!

We received our paperwork from our lawyer today; translated into French and they did an amazing job; I guess you do get what you pay for.

Now we need to get to Boston in the next couple days, get the papers signed, and overnight them back to our lawyer so that he can get them into MOFA so we can finalize our Haitian approval to adopt.

We continue to pray and hope that things in Haiti will go smoother with our children and their paperwork – last we heard, we’re still in a holding pattern.. we need to call and find out if Christella’s uncle showed up after 5 months…

I guess this seems like a common thing; perhaps her uncle after seeing that she did not die, and is being taken care of no longer feels the urgency in finding her a home; perhaps something happened to him, perhaps he has just not been able to afford the time and money to come into Port Au Prince… either way; we can’t do much until some decision is made on how to proceed next…

I need to fly down to Haiti again soon too, so I can submit the children’s paperwork under the Adjudicate Orphan First program…

Being thankful…

I live in the U.S. – we have LOTS of problems; however, reading things like this remind me to be thankful for the problems that we have.  I’ve never once thought of getting on a boat and casting out to sea to gamble with my life trying to find a job in another country so I can feed my family…

 

Sea search for 70 Haitians to resume at dawn
Search teams waited anxiously for daylight Wednesday to resume the hunt for nearly 70 Haitians missing after a sailboat splintered on a reef and spilled nearly 200 migrants into rough seas.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32198394/ns/world_news-americas//from/ET

H.I.S. Home for Children 2009

The 2009 H.I.S. Home 300 saw two ride groups (southern & northern routes) cover 300 miles in 6 days. The rides began in Joliet & Monticello, IL and ended in Harrod, OH. A combined total of 37 riders and 11 support personnel raised $38,000 and counting for H.I.S. Home for Children. H.I.S. Home is a ministry caring for orphaned and abandoned children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

To learn more about H.I.S. Home for Children visit www.hishomeforchildren.com

A little rain goes a long way in Port Au Prince Haiti

 

It seemed to rain almost every day in Port Au Prince, Haiti when we were there in May, 2009. Most of the time that we were out driving in the rain there was no way for me to video it; however, our friends Ernie and Wayne who were also in Haiti at the same time did get a quick video. I was amazed to see people actually driving (or walking) down streets that were completely flooded out!

 

Driving in Haiti

 

On this rainy Saturday afternoon, I decided to blog something from our Haiti trip.  This is just a quick video snippet – not much here – but plenty more where this one came from. 

 

Like so many other things in Haiti, when you get in a vehicle it is obvious that you are putting your life in God’s hands.  No real speed limits; hardly any traffic signs, road signs; the only real law seems to be “honk before you hit someone or something, or it is your fault”. 

Driving in Haiti, you cram 2-3 times as many people in the vehicles as the vehicle was intended to hold; no seat belts of course; no emissions regulations either – so you’re breathing thick black air poisonous air, your hair and skin is covered in dust and powdery black substances (soot?) when you get to your destination.

The roads are very adventurous though; huge potholes, stream beds, etc. 

 

So… why could we only fit 25 people in a 14 seat van?  See below for the answer!