Lack of Proactivity – An Ethical Dilemma

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
    but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

  • Proverbs 10:9

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

  • Galatians 6:9

I think it was just me, but one of my favorite classes in engineering school was the professionalism class, led by the head of the department, a man a corresponded with until his passing.  These days, professionalism is wearing the right clothing – some companies using uniforms to institutionalize it – and being polite to customers, even though you hate them.  But in my freshman class at the university, my first ever introduction to ‘engineering’ was Engineering Ethics.  We learned that engineering was a profession, not a job or career.  A “profession” is often misused these days, with the meaning changing faster than the wind shifts, but what I was taught was that only doctors, lawyers, teachers, preachers, and engineers were in a “profession,” a career that required a college degree, and had a code of ethics, and carried a requirement to do what was needed to be done in your profession to protect mankind.  Now some people among those “professions” are not lily white, but…

Having only been a born-again Christian for a short time and having been an Eagle Scout, the code of ethics and doing nothing to harm others became something that I took with me throughout my career.  I was often told that I was not trusted in sales meetings, because I was too honest.  I felt cheating the customer was doing harm.  Telling the customer a lie about your capabilities would lead to disappointment down the road.  But no, I was told to only answer technical questions when I was asked to go on a sales call.  Often, the customer insisted on meeting the person that would eventually be doing the work, so my employers had to let me go on occasion.

About 15 years ago, the group president – our company was the largest company in our group of companies and the group president had his office in our building – asked me to attend a one-day conference on combustion safety innovations.  I was honored.  When I returned, I presented my findings to the engineering manager, the controls manager, and a few others.  I told them that the industry would soon make a shift and if we jumped on it, we would be ahead of the curve, and we would be winning contracts while the competition was trying to figure out how to get started.  I was told to be quiet and mind my business.  They would always do it the way they used to do it, because they knew that the old way worked.  They would only do it if forced to do so by contract or standards.  They met the standard, but they were not proactive.

Less than two years later, the industry established what I had seen to be the new standard, and our company was scrambling to catch up with the competitors.  Then, six-months later, we found out that the new system was more costly to build, but more reliable, safer, and it made things run more efficiently, saving fuel costs and improving product quality.  We started selling the system upgrades to save the customer operating costs.  These changes that cost more up front paid for themselves.  But we could have been marketing that for a few years, if people had listened.

Why bring back this memory?  Two things happened recently, one after the other.

The first was a television commercial that said nothing about the political candidate who paid for the advertising, but it blamed the standing president for over 200,000 COVID deaths.  The sound bite that has been often repeated when he said, “I do not take responsibility” was to the question, “Do you take responsibility for all COVID deaths since the virus was first discovered in China?”  Every death, around the world?  I know the question that was asked.  I watched the press conference live, and even though it was an insane question, I feared what eventually happened with the video recording – applied to other questions.  But the commercial also interviewed a half dozen doctors who claimed to wait for the president to give them instructions.  They complained about what they could have done while waiting, giving several examples in their complaints.  I am sure they were well paid for their appearance.

My question is “If you were not lying when you took your Hippocratic oath, “Why did you not start without being told to do so?!?!?!?!  Why did you wait?”  Neither the doctors nor the president was responsible for the deaths.  Should people who took an oath to protect others, had the knowledge and skill to do so, have waited for someone to say “mother, may I?”  Or were they overstating the effectiveness of what they were saying?

Then we come to the other event, the official withdrawal from the Paris Accords.  The president finally admitted during the last debate what I already suspected, he wanted out of the accords because it was a bad deal for the USA.  In the accords, the USA was being fined for past industrial strength and associated pollution, in the past, although the USA standards on pollution are higher than most of the world.  When we lived in Germany, western Europe used leaded gasoline and no catalytic convertors on automobiles, but the USA is the polluter that must pay restitution?!?!  In the accords, the USA was required to innovate new ways of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and then give that technology away.  And in the meantime, the US economy would go in the toilet while the capital improvements made throughout industry would be to chase something that may not fix the problem and lessen the productivity of the industry.  As for the Democratic party idea of taxing the big companies?  They will then not have the capital to make the necessary changes to meet the Paris accords, thus industry will shut down and millions will be out of work.  Having our company lay off most of their employees each time money got tight, I know that the steel industry in the USA will shut down, but then the Chinese will sell us the steel, because they signed the accords and will never meet the requirements.  And who can insist that they pay the fines?  The rest of the world owes them money.

Oh, another of those political commercials popped up that was hideous.  Oil executives, in their mansions, laughing about the youngsters would have to fix global warming because they knew they were polluting and did nothing about it.  Could this be correct or a different pack of lies?  They were that greedy, but having worked in that industry in the mid-70s, I do not buy that idea.

Greedy?  Yes!  At a professional society meeting, we heard a presentation by an executive who admitted that the patent for a revolutionary new design in automobile carburetors, back when they used carburetors to mix air and fuel, was purchased by an oil company to prevent its use, because it would make automobiles more efficient and use less gasoline.

But we were never told in those days that carbon dioxide was the bad guy.  We were told to retool aerosol cans to eliminate spraying chlorinated, fluorinated hydrocarbons into the air.  After deodorants became sticks and the aerosols disappeared (except for ‘safe’ aerosols), the “scientists” said that they were wrong, and we had to eliminate the hi-tech refrigerants.  Now the industry retooled air conditioning and refrigeration technologies, and the prices kept going up.  After that was accomplished, the “scientists” admitted they were wrong, again.  So, now it is carbon dioxide.  Carbon dioxide is emitted by everything, including people as they breathe.  Eliminating it will be expensive, and even then impossible.  But the “scientists” are already coming up with excuses when it doesn’t work.  They are saying that we will have to remove the carbon dioxide in the air also, all while we cut down trees – God’s natural carbon dioxide removers.

Might I ask a question?  When the “scientists” have admitted not being correct 2-3 times already, why should we believe them now?  Why should we spend trillions of dollars and risk millions of people’s jobs for what might be their latest lie?

But why does this fit with the other two?  Why has USA industry not been working toward the Paris accords anyway?  Is that not the right thing to do?  If someone thought proactively, would they not see that there was going to be a buyers’ market in new ideas?

Proactive thinking could have changed a company to the industry leader rather than a company scrambling to catch up.  Proactive thinking, rather than 20:20 hindsight, could have led doctors to better medicine and better preparation.  And proactive thinking could lead a nation to be the leader in reducing our carbon footprint rather than waiting for politics to take the lead.

And to tie all this lament into the Scriptures.  Sadly, I fear that the lack of proactivity in each case depended upon money.  Greed often supersedes integrity.  And it seems we grow weary of doing good, unless we get paid for it.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. We call it a vocation— teaching, the ministry, etc are vocations— a calling vs a profession, but I digress— one reason why Trump ruffled so many feathers within the EU is because he finally said enough is enough— it’s been 75 years and all the debts owed us since the war had never been paid and had actually simply lapsed— So we had been owed so much money that these Nations just kid of quit paying.
    Trump simply reminded everyone they needed to pay off their debts.
    The other trouble is Iran— that billion some odd cash payout Obama and Clinton delivered to Iran, Trump simply said no more!!!
    And so why does everyone hate him for wanting to put the US before all these other nations is simply beyond my soul!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good post! IN a day and age of much politicization, professionalism is important, across all fields and sectors. Good post

    Liked by 1 person

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