Strong Moral Compass

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Just Living? Having a Strong Moral Compass helps!

Is your moral compass active?

Today’s interconnected, mass social media society is quick to praise or condone actions. Witness the speed with which individual comments or visual images transform into collective opinion or video footage going viral. In one sense this poses an interesting dilemma for the individual – are you ‘with’ or ‘against’ the so-called popular ‘instant wisdom’. Do you stand up for what’s right when unpopular, show commitment to ethical standards and integrity through words and actions. In whose interests do you act and do you take personal accountability and expect the same of others? Is your moral compass active?

In recent months, populism seems to have taken root - there is anger, sadness, frustration, mistrust, loss of confidence, etc – over a range of different issues, especially against the ‘the establishment’. This provides fertile ground for politics, business and ‘alternative facts’ to exploit. Images play a powerful role, they ferment passions when you see strife and turmoil in the Middle East or hunger and starvation in Africa or environmental damage from illegal deforestation and burning in Asia or, nearer home, abuse and exploitation of the young and vulnerable. Reputational damage is caused when you see mistreatment of an airline passenger, bloodied and being dragged off an aircraft or car emissions data misused to circumnavigate regulations or when cybercrime results in financial loss or personal information and data hacked into. And add to this continued bribery and corruption across the world between business and politicians. Mixed into this heady cocktail is ‘the media’ – print, sound and visual. Then there is social media, created for and by itself, the consumer digests its own news. Boundaries are weak between what is perception and reality, fact and fiction and news and fake news. Our sensory perceptions are under constant exposure to news, views, e-mails, texts, twitters and whatapps’ - the compass in your mind just whizzing around in no particular direction or purpose!

The Third Sector – needs to watch its compass deviation?

Back to the individual – he/she enjoys life and works hard (private sector), must pop-in to see his/her local GP (public sector) and is lucky to have an affordable place to stay (for example, housing provided by the third sector). This scenario in unlikely to be rare and is a simplistic illustration of our mixed-use economy. The role played by this third sector, the charitable and voluntary sector, is important. It provides another vital layer of a safety net and contributes to our cohesiveness. This includes a diverse range of organisations from social enterprises, community workshops and clubs/societies to think-tanks, private research initiatives and cooperatives. The notion of community spirit still thrives and in practice, individuals engage with each other in a multitude of ways to commit time and money in giving.

From time to time the charity sector comes under the microscope – a well-known and powerful on-line fund platform that facilitates the raising of hundreds of millions of pounds has come in for much criticism over the quantum of fees it generates on donations plus related gift-aid and the transparency over its charges. Its defence might be persuasive – there is no reason why a ‘for-profit’ charity cannot operate as a ‘for-good’, highly professional, reliable and trusted organisation that has a proven track record in enabling a vast range of causes from raising funds. There is mutual dependency at work here – the technology and innovation provided by the talented people who run the platform acts as the ‘generator’ for fund raising that is scalable. But in turn, the platform becomes a ‘taker’, the bigger the volume of funds raised, the greater its fees. The danger for the platform is the perception of greed, arrogance and a sort of monopolistic behaviour arising from its success. If the public believes it is getting a value add service, the relationship will survive but its needs to be wary of the risk of moral hazard, of being seen as ‘taking but not giving’.

Transparency is about doing the right thing, being open, accountable and trustworthy. However, it is possible for charities to be smart and business-like whilst retaining core values at the same time.

Similarly, certain charities have been fined recently by the regulator responsible for data protection. Breaches have occurred in the buying, selling and sharing of personal information of donors, between charities and third parties. The aim was to exploit (‘data mine’) the valuable information that data analysis can provide of donors’ wealth, preferences and lifestyles, with a view to targeting alternative avenues for further donations. The involvement of third parties is to use technological capabilities that charities do not possess and in return, they are able to further data process the core personal information. The use and abuse of data, be it at work, in cars, on your mobile, tablet or television and the advent of the internet of things, poses interesting challenges. Who or what data really controls your personal moral compass?

One Kind Act – a place to rebalance the compass?

Well, if you embrace ‘compassion’ and play around with the word, then you can quickly reset your compass! 

Today it sees everyone is a staff member, an associate, customer, client, buyer, follower, a crowd funder, a whatsapp group member, etc. We are identified by mobile numbers, e-mail addresses, passwords, user ID’s, etc. Somewhere in there is a person, a living being capable of detaching from the omni-channel existence of handhelds and headphones and wanting a connection that makes a difference.

OKA is that channel – a conduit to be part of life that makes sense of living, where through your own actions and interactions with fellow like-minded people, you get to build something worthwhile. 

Your personal compass will guide you to your destination – a cause you want to pursue, an event you want to contribute to, your expertise and time you want to volunteer or simply to give something that makes a difference with someone else’s life compass.

Kaushik Shah

Supporter of One Kind Act


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