Teresa – Many people live on the margins of society, without support and without shelter. What is ethics and how does the notion of ethics relate with the reality of the people who are miserable and living on the streets?
João Roberto – The Greek world created the ethos. The Greek poets used this word as a synonym for shelter, in the physical sense. Aristotle, a little later, associated ethos to discipline, with the semantic value of a metaphorical shelter. Ethics presupposes the support in the internal discipline, conscious of the area of freedom and autonomy that we create within ourselves. It is not imposed from the outside to the inside; it comes from the inside to the outside. It is born in our conscience, which sustains the will to do something that needs to be done. Morality, a result of Roman culture, expresses the norm created and established by society. Therefore, its strength, unlike ethics, comes from the outside as a social imposition.
Accordingly, we can be moral without being ethical and ethical without being moral. More than morality, our greatest challenge is ethical development, which represents the vitality that creates the strength and disposition for the fight. Ethics is the art, the science of peaceful coexistence, and its golden rule is: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
In the context of those living with extreme material difficulty and including the homeless, the observer might think: “I do not want that to happen to me or my family,” but generally does nothing for the indigent person. In order to act ethically we need to alleviate the burden of attachments to the superfluous, become lighter, and not dispel and waste energy with peripheral and irrelevant matters. We are suffering to attend to the smaller dimensions of life and there is no energy left for fundamental actions. If man spends all his energy on minor causes, he will be without strength and without time for the superior struggle, towards a loving and peaceful coexistence.
João Roberto de Araújo is an author of social and emotional education books and founder of 50-50 SEL Solutions.