Laws for the lawless heart
: I can’t believe I’m quoting Chuck Colson. But I am:
President Bush said recently, “There is no capitalism without conscience; there is no wealth without character.” Many, including The Post [editorial, July 10] responded that conscience has nothing to do with it. “There’s no harm in this rhetoric,” said The Post, “but it is naive to suppose that business can be regulated by some kind of national honor code.”
Will we never learn? When I was in the White House serving President Nixon, I knew what the law was. I was trained in it. There were plenty of laws on the books forbidding precisely the kind of abuses into which we rationalized ourselves. If I had ever sat down and thought about it, I would have realized that we were backing into a serious conspiracy that could topple a president. By the time I did realize it and warned the president, it was too late.
Watergate did not happen for want of laws. It happened because people cut corners, did what they thought was necessary for the president to survive and covered up their own misdeeds while rationalizing it all as being in the interest of the country. Is anyone so naive as to think laws could have changed this?…
What fools we are when we think we can legislate away human immorality. We certainly need laws, but I stand as living proof that the cure comes not from laws and statutes but from the transforming of the human heart — the embracing of a moral code to which conscience is bound. The real hope for corporate America lies in cultivating conscience, a disposition to know and do what is right. And yet I have surveyed business school curricula and find that hardly any teach ethics.
Ah, but then you’ve defined what the law really is:
The law is our only protection from immorality when morality fails us.
Morality and ethics and good sense and even enlightened self-interest failed the CEOs of the lying companies that stole our money and our future value. But then, like any criminal, they simply thought they wouldn’t get caught. But the failure is not the law’s. The failure is their’s.
What Colson cannot count is how many bad deeds are stopped first by morality and then by the law. Just because they sometimes fail, that does not mean we do not need them. We need the laws and their enforcers apparently more than ever.
But he’s also right: We need ethical education more than ever as well. Here’s for the start of business-school and law-school courses called “Right v. Wrong.”
: WIth some personal pride, I point you to the NJ.com Springsteen forum today, the day when Bruuuuuce performed live on the Today show from Asbury Park. Just take a look at the posts appearing there today. Blog o’ the people.
A guy writes about going to his Tower Records last night:
last night I called them at 10..to see how late they were open..teenage girl who answers says “Till Midnight”..so I say “does that mean I can or can’t get a new release?”…she says..”not till 10am when we re-open”…I say “damn…no Springsteen till 10am”…she says “oh, no.,..that guy we put on the shelves already cause there’s 50 guys here that were gonna cry if we didn’t”…I say – nuthin…was already on my way there…scored the special book version…and hugged a bunch of strangers…
: Now it’s Jersey blasphemy to say this… it’s cause for deportation to Indiana… it’s a sin but I have to say it: I never got Springsteen. Some of this songs are good; some have to be. But mostly, he would turn a trip to a 7-11 into a droning ballad that sounds like all his other droning ballads.