Of what use is an effort like the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism (CRT) during a time of pandemic?
What is the case for financial support of our mission and the many thoughtful contributions of members of our network?
As 2020 comes to an end, in this holiday season for many of us, I have been reflecting on this.
For the past months, key phrases and words pushed upon us by the pandemic have been “follow the science,” “lockdowns” and “what should the government do?,” among others.
But does science have a moral compass? Does government? Do politicians and regulators?
The moral compass of science is in the minds of the scientists. Data, as we know, must be interpreted. Data can be manipulated to fit narratives. Who controls making the narratives to which data is subordinated? Which narratives are sound, reliable? Which ones should be taken as truth?
Scientists have power and power always needs moral guidance to seek what is good, right and fair.
Ordering lockdowns is another use of power. All government is the use of power over others. What moral standards set limits on the use of public power?
One lesson taught to us by the pandemic is the foundational importance of work in morals and ethics, in finding principles which can be applied in action to affect the outcomes of our lives.
It’s an old point actually, but technology, tools, instruments and expertise without more is unguided and, therefore, can be shaped by human purposes for good, bad or indifference and irrelevance. Human purposes, of course, have many sources, venture out on many roads seeking disparate goals and objectives and justify themselves with many rationalizations. The pandemic has taught us to consider ethics, as well as expertise.
The perspective of moral capitalism would have enterprise respond to a pandemic by quickly developing new technologies for detection of the virus, care of those taken ill and creation of vaccines to protect against infection. In addition, the well-being of stakeholders, especially customers and employees, must be factored into the search for profit.
Lockdowns also demonstrated the ethical need for businesses to remain profitable under such conditions, to provide needed goods and services and to fund families through employment of workers.
Though they can create liquidity, it seems self-evident that public agencies cannot fund economies indefinitely. At some point, real wealth must be created to sustain community well-being.
With respect to governments, the CRT application of morality to public office prioritizes the role of trust as a requirement for good government. Government has an obligation to earn public trust.
Secondly, the moral imperative of earning trust leads to a second standard for good government – the use of discourse, full and free discourse, tolerant and comprehensive, where data and arguments are scrutinized and not taken for granted as a priori truth.
One example of our work, which is both unique and bears within it the seeds of greater harmony between Christians and Muslims, is our study of the moral standards contained in certain covenants made with Christian communities by the Prophet Muhammad. No one else has undertaken such a study, which grew out of our explorations of ethical teachings across our global communities.
With the start of the pandemic, we made special efforts to reach out to our fellows and others to gather their insights and wisdom about finding meaning and purpose in these unexpected and unnerving times. We framed this work as reaching out to the moral sense as an active force for good in our world.
If this perspective on the importance of moral reflection makes sense to you, we would be grateful for your assistance, both financially and with ideas, on how best to strengthen the quality of CRT round tables and publications.
Please also consider who you might interest in the work of the CRT and introduce them to us.
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Thank you again for your past interest in our work and for your continued support.