Ethics is what makes and keeps life human. As the headlines remind us, however, we do not always take the time to consciously consider our choices about how we could and should behave. Living an ethical life is like practicing an instrument; it takes practice.

In a timely article in The New York Times, Howard Gardner, professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, takes a hard look at the ethical disarray in America where traditional morality has broken down and professionals of all stripes no longer feel the need to serve the common good.

He points out that many lawyers aren't concerned with the health of the community but only with the wealth and well-being of their corporate clients. He laments that politicians prioritize the demands of their donors and special interest groups over the public's while doctors pay allegiance to pharmaceutical companies or health maintenance organizations.

Gardner calls for a reinvention of ethics in this digital age. In 1989 we wrote a Viewer's Guide to "Ethics in America," a ten-part series on PBS that focused on some of the ethical challenges faced by those in the criminal justice system, those shocked by the lack of trust in society, those engineering corporate take-overs, those concerned with privacy, and more. Panel participants were presented with ethical dilemmas and asked to explain their ethical decisions; it made for profound and thought-provoking television. We agree with Gardner that it is time to use the Internet as a forum for discussion of the major ethical issues of our time just as the creators of the 1989 series used television.

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