Excerpt from the book "RoadWindows" by Leslie T. Lox
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A Day in the Life
I could count on one hand the days I lived in North Carolina that weren’t sunny, figuratively at least. Blue skies had asked fewer words to describe the sleeping peach trees and corn fields that brisk October back in “71”. Oblivious to many of the locals in Raleigh the trial of the “Wilmington 10” was underway and getting national exposure. A group of men led by the Reverend Benjamin Chavis had been accused of arson and conspiracy in the destruction of a business in downtown Charlotte. The motive was said to be in support of a boycott announced of the Hanover public school system. Their convictions would eventually be overturned and the nine men and one woman freed.
I was a student and the principal organizer for the “defense committee”. On those brisk sunny days I recall sitting in court wondering that if the “Wilmington 10” were found guilty of those crimes would they be better Christians for them or would their deeds wither into regret behind barbed wire and cinder blocks?
Our discussions on campus were often fiery and confrontational but conclusive. Out of the student union and on to the promenade however those conclusions offered us little protection from the wind gusting its grassy spans and picturesque shade trees - worse on the red brick walk cutting its way up to the conference building. Splendid gifts of nature, unpredictable, unchanging, one treads them carefully. On this day we were early for a meeting with some folks from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). We sat around an old conference table that held 20 in a room meant for 15.
Vaughn who claimed some affiliation with the black panthers out of Los Angles and Milton an activist from Norfolk Virginia were seated to my left and rear. I remember thinking that it wouldn’t have hurt if someone had warned the gentleman sitting across from me as he opened the discussion. They were an animated mix of White, Chinese and Black men and women who were interested in what I had to say, at least for the moment.
My words evoked disappointment but it was a plan to fit everyone if it was not perfect ... the message was that there would be no crowds or yelling outside the court house. Our acts would not be those of clenched fists, unruly demonstrations - excuses for dogs and riot gear. Such acts had run their course.
“We just want a fair trial. We’re not here to sway anyone’s opinion one way or the other – just a fair trial no matter how it turns out”. My words cast a spell broken only by Robins and Orioles chirping in the brisk outside.
“Like Les said, it’s quiet around these parts,” Milt added from a gait severe if not threatening. His speech was slow and deliberate. Vaughn watched motionless a few steps behind him. The spell was broken this time by nods and note passing, whispers and people looking down at blank legal pads. They looked at me. We looked at each other.
More than a meeting had ended as we followed the red brick path back to the Student Union building. The October sun had buffed the promenade into a soft Technicolor. Felt were the weight of the red leaves drawn down to the grass blowing any which way. I recalled a line from a Bob Dylan song that finished with, “…all that just to get here”.
* * *
“Of what proportion was that moment when man realized that throughout the universe, he was a force to be reckoned with?”
Was it a world of nation’s mankind envisioned when he realized the need for rules and a method of governance that would achieve global order? Or was it when he decided that the rules had to be just and fair, recognizing even his minor inclinations and trivialities that he realized his potential was boundless?
Likely it was society’s endless potential that man envisioned, recognizing his inclination towards fairness and that the universe would respond more favorably to exploration and habitation that was ethical. We are still in that moment. It is timeless like the moment we learned to spell the words integrity and freedom; small victories that allowed us to think we could do anything - but the truth is that we can’t. We’ve only to look around. That turmoil on the evening news is a collage of large complex issues some of which are centuries old. They tell us amongst other things that our advances in science mean nothing when we compensate for them with ethnic cleansing and use them to invent newer more deadly diseases like AIDS, lethal bio-chemicals like anthrax and weapons capable of unreasonable destruction. Thinking that we could do anything we not only created newer and better ways of destroying ourselves we made using them a part of our historic profile. If you headed a federation of planets, would you welcome earth with that kind of history into your universal association?
I remember laying in the grass as a child looking up at the sky and thinking that there must be a clue somewhere that will point us in the right direction. The irony is that like all good ideas it is probably simple and right in front of us. Or maybe it will come from behind catching up with us in our lack of deftness, riding a white horse and pointing the way? The irony is that the past is where experienced problem solvers look first when searching for a clue or a common link. With that so, what words of guidance might the most famous books in the world written long ago have for us during this time of global turmoil: the Torah, the Quran and the Bible? Better yet, did they all espouse the same message? What ideas did they along with Euro/Greco democratic philosophy, and Eastern thought agree to and portend would carry mankind from the turmoil of early antiquity all the way to the present?
This book will surmise that the most common theme within those great books and philosophies is the clue to satisfying our present day turmoil. That would be the theme of ethics and it is not so deeply buried in the most important and symbolic era in all of history that we cannot grasp it. It is the link that has connected most all great ideas and the men who espouse them. It suggests that our efforts are almost meaningless if we do not understand and acknowledge this one inherent attribute. However, if we can manage it we’ll find that our potential is infinite. That is because as we walk upright, communicate and reason we are also ethical. Ethical standards are purposeful, infinite and magical and are as innate to us as suckling and raising our children.
Ethics are so basically inherent to us that we do other indirect and unrelated things just to satisfy our need to be ethical. We hoard wealth and power to provide more and better for ourselves and our children. And after we finish doing this for ourselves we do it for others. We are ethical without pretense. The problem is that we take it for granted. We don’t keep it in focus. Ethics remains unacknowledged for all the good that it has done and is worth.
Our life’s blood which is business and which seems to have served itself fairly well throughout history is nothing compared to the potential ethical standards saves for it. Not performing up to one’s potential is managing out of position or away from one’s strength. The bad news is that this acting away from one’s strength is out of character for us and eventually invites less than the best fortune. Misfortune here is global warming, genocide and the over 20 major conflicts and wars we have going on right now on our planet. It is the beginning of a long list. The good news is that it is not too late for a correction. Add to the bad news that our luck is not infinite. It has limits beyond which we don’t want to imagine.
It has to be acknowledged that it was when man felt inclined towards ethical activity that he knew he wasn’t like the other animals. He knew then that he could extend himself beyond what he saw and understood at the moment; that he was capable and could accomplish more through the traits of reason and responsibility. It was his license and lifeline into the future. Ethics was the trait that not only set man apart within the animal kingdom, it lifted his expectations to be limitless. Understand and witness then the genius of ethics. It gave man a soul that would be ambitious but fair. Then it governed his capabilities to be infinite and gave him a method for achieving his dreams.
Ethics is the variable that has assigned that man would have a significant role throughout the universe. It is a measuring tool with which we can measure not only our past and our present circumstances but through which we can anticipate the future. Within that frame work we can reason that it will only be if and when we meet a species who are also ethical that we will know we are facing an equal capability.
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You have just read the opening pages of "RoadWindows: A Historical, Philosophical and Rational Prospectus for Ethics"
It includes the first paragraphs to the preface that deliver a book that is interesting, provocative and informative. Each chapter is designed to enlighten and encourage discussion. Each one is better than the one before ...
Discussed are the evolution of ethical practices from antiquity to the present - from the great prophets and philosophers to the decree's of the Sultans and Merchant Princes to the Magna Carta and the U.S. Constitution. Even the crime venues are discussed to complete an intriguing historical and scientific descriptive on the subject of business and ethics. Well over three hundred pages span history with numerous references to the research of world renowned experts with an interesting anecdote woven by spirited characters. Give us your feedback before it comes out in its printed version mid year. In that sense it will be your book as well as part of the Nigel and Loxy catalog. We absolutely welcome your thoughts and questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
“RoadWindows” is our second publication within the burgening ethics domain with “Potent Enterprise” being the first. In between were our "Method Books, each for business and career start-ups along with our CD's all of which we look forward to bringing to you. Look for the second edition of "Potent Enterprise" if you decide to buy it. The book is being revised and expanded and it's worth the wait. All of our books will be offered in hard copy form on this site in the coming months. Thank you for being patient with us as we build and improve on what we do. For another perspective on current events please visit my newsletter on Rdwins.com
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With respect and admiration,
Leslie T. Lox, author, principal
Henry "Butch" Williams, principal