War can be an Experience of both Heaven and Hell

Many combat veterans have a love/hate relationship with their wartime experiences. They love the profound sense of purpose that their liv...

Practicing What We Preach has Ethical Implications

Whenever an organization preaches one standard but practices a different one, all of its standards are compromised. Members don't know which standards really matter. 

In war, ambiguity about ethical standards can lead to terrible consequences. Therefore, military eaders should go out of their way to ensure alignment between their unit's words and deeds on ethical standards.

I addressed this topic in my September 2017 ARMY column, which concludes:

"Ethical ambiguity leads to ethical confusion, and ethical confusion sets conditions in which there is greater risk that unethical behavior will spin out of control. That is unfair to soldiers and dangerous for everyone involved.

Leaders can foster ethical climates by encouraging their soldiers to identify and bring to their attention any gaps between stated standards and enforced standards. Leaders and their soldiers should discuss any gaps as professionals to make a good determination about which standard—the stated one or the practiced and enforced one—ought to be adjusted.

Leaders should never abdicate their duty to explicitly state and take responsibility for their units’ actual standards—particularly when changes are needed—because soldiers deserve to know unequivocally what is expected of them, especially ethically. Soldiers have volunteered to fight, kill and even die for what is right, so they deserve to know with certainty what is right."

Bending the Rules: Ambiguous Standards, Falsified Records Cause Ethical Harm

I invite and welcome your comments. A two-page essay can never address any complex topic's issues as deeply and thoroughly as we'd like.

Think deeply. Act justly.


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