February 2nd, 2009
03:59 PM ET

Ethics are where morals, actions align

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/02/art.obamasprayer0202.gi.jpg]

Jeffrey L. Seglin
Special to the O.C. Register

Recently, on the first night of a class in professional ethics that I team-teach at Emerson College in Boston, I wrote these words on the board: “hard work,” “honesty,” “courage,” “fair play,” “tolerance,” “curiosity,” “loyalty” and “patriotism.”

Then I turned and asked the class: “What are these things?”

“Values,” a few of the students responded.

“Where have you heard them before?”

“In Barack Obama’s inaugural address this afternoon,” one of the students piped up.

He was right, of course. These are the values President Obama listed in his speech, the ideals upon which he thinks our success in meeting new challenges is based.

“These things are old,” he said. “These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.”


Filed under: Raw Politics
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Mark Peterson

    I have to agree with all of the comments I've seen here. I'd say the president is proving himself to be the all-talker his detractors claimed him to be all along.

    In reality, Mr. Obama is a major league equivocator. Examples of that characteristic are his I believe record number of "present" votes as a senator. That is, he avoids commitment or is not truly committed to any ideas belief or value system. That gives him a lot of wiggle room and suggests that those values of honesty, courage and fair play are not among the values our president holds dear.

    That's too bad since those are the one's I'd prefer most in our top leaders.

    February 3, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  2. Simon

    With all due respect, you might want to click on "read more" and read the rest of this entry. It goes on:

    "The difference between the two men, in short, is not one of values but rather of how they choose to apply these values to various situations. That’s what defines them as politicians, but it’s their values that define them as human beings.

    "When Obama said, in his inaugural address, that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, “so defining of our character, (as) giving our all to a difficult situation,” that’s what he was talking about: how we choose to apply our values to a task. He was talking about ethics, about doing the right thing when faced with “common dangers.”"

    Isn't that what you're talking about JC-Los Angeles?

    Agree that actions based on values are crucial. But disagree that these things shouldn't be talked about. Raising awareness of the importance of applying values to public or private life seems crucial at a time when we see so many politicians, Wall Street execs., others, who don't take the time to do so.

    I like the idea of rising up to do the right thing when face with "common dangers."

    February 3, 2009 at 6:51 am |
  3. Larry L.

    It used to be in the past after a politician was in office and we found out he was dishonest and kick them out,with the new administration we find out the politician is dishonest before he is in office and bring him in.

    February 2, 2009 at 9:20 pm |
  4. David Petranoff


    Let's talk about Tom Daschle and Barack's "values". You know the story of Tom Daschle & Leo Hindery. How did this get missed in the vetting? Answer – it didn't. Figure a way to explain it – mistake – whatever. And the new policies on lobbying? If you look closely at this relationship, the odor may cause you to breath through your mouth. And please stop with the "values" stuff. Hard work – I'll give Tom that. One the other hand, if I'm making "millions" of dollars each year, I hope your working hard. Honesty? Please. Pay the taxes only when you get caught or have to. Courage? "The two most important traits a person can have is courage & integrity." – Earl Nightingale. Tell me where you see that in Tom Daschle. Fair play? Really?? Barack PREACHED about the wealthy paying their fair share and he wants to give Tom a hall pass? It's called inside the belt politics & take care of your own. Huge hit to Barack's image. This is NOT change. I have to stop typing now – I just ate dinner and I shouldn't have.

    February 2, 2009 at 7:54 pm |
  5. JC- Los Angeles

    With all due respect, values and ethics are not something that should be spoken about in a speech but rather tenants by which people should live their lives.

    As a registered Independent who voted for President Obama, the time has come for people to be judged by their actions and character rather than their endless words.

    President Obama rose through the political ranks by surrounding himself with a litany of questionable characters that surely do not represent the defination most would have of values and ethics.

    Barack and Michelle Obama have made a very lucrative career out of writing books, giving speches and sitting on boards; now it's time to stop all the talking and see if they can lead by example.

    February 2, 2009 at 7:22 pm |