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Why Bother Being Ethical? A Follow Up

Dr. Bruce Powell, founder of New Jewish Community High School in West Hills, spoke at Or Ami last week about How to Explain to our Teens Why Bother Being Ethical in an Unethical World. It was Fabulous. He was Inspiring. Straightforward. Contemplating still Dr. Powell’s teachings, I came across a sermon by Rabbi Stephen Pierce of Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco. Poignant, insightful, meaningful. Do read it:

Coziness, Drowsiness, The Lulling Effect, False Profits and Truth Decay—Restoring Trust After the Bubble Decade Of Economic Triumphalism, Materialism, Arrogance, Exploitatioin, Malignant Narcissism, and Betrayal

A sermon delivered on Kol Nidre 5770 Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, PhD

Our era is on trial! The financial mess created by uncontrolled greed created an ethical vacuum and destroyed faith in the advice of so- called “experts” and government regulators who reassured us that our assets would grow at an uninterrupted rate, home equity would continue its meteoric rise, and retirement funds would be protected from volitivity— even as the world economy descended into the abyss. harvard Law School economist kip Viscusi called this sad state of affairs “the lulling effect”— the government’s imprimatur that makes people feel safer than they really are. Where did we go wrong? Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, authors of The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, provide a stinging indictment of what led to the current turmoil:

Understanding the narcissism epidemic is important because its long-term consequences are destructive to society. American culture’s focus on self-admiration has caused a flight from reality to the land of grandiose fantasy. We have phony rich people (with interest-only mortgages and piles of debt), phony beauty (with plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures), phony athletes (with performance-enhancing drugs), phony celebrities (via reality TV and YouTube), phony genius students (with grade inflation), a phony national economy (with $11 trillion of government debt), phony feelings of being special among children (with parenting and education focused on self-esteem), and phony friends (with the social networking explosion). All this fantasy might feel good, but, unfortunately, reality always wins. The mortgage meltdown and the resulting financial crisis are just one demonstration of how inflated desires eventually crash to earth. Read on, page 3.

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