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  • Writer's pictureFiona Prior

Moral compass for sale?

Updated: Jul 11, 2022

I guess the term ‘moral compass’ came into use because the terms being compared - good/bad, right/wrong - were polar opposites, and could therefore be located on a theoretical canvas.

I was fascinated when the term ‘amoral’ was presented to me by my English teacher (Mrs Fox) in year 11. Iago was amoral she said. He destroyed Desdemona and Othello on a whim. No moral compass at all! Wow! I was too young at the time to understand the psychological profile of a sociopath.

And moral compasses are complex things. I am sure the compass of the Ukraine citizen is very different to that of Vladimir Putin, whatever complex, narcissistic, nationalistic, self-believing mess is going on in the latter's head right now. Or the moral compass of Donald Trump? I'm not even going to try to imagine that one...

How about Julian Assange, Bernard Collaery ... even Nick Kyrios?

Is morality something that is time and/or location dependent? I once read that most criminals do not believe they are bad people. Frequently, they can justify a criminal action to a point where they see themselves as good people put into impossible situations.

Much easier to fathom is the man or woman who steals to feed their family? Surely a moral compass should be applied to the social and/or economic environment that puts them in this situation rather than to their action?

I’m introducing an essay written this week by my friend and colleague Anne-Marie Elias as I think it so pertinent to what is happening in the world today.

Anne-Marie asks the following questions: ‘What happens when an organisation, a firm, a country loses its moral compass? We lose our ability to judge actions and allocate resources effectively and with integrity. I’m confused as to how intelligent people in key decision-making roles can miss the bleeding obvious. More here.

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