Relation Is: Ethics Must Follow as Care and Connection

Relation Is: Ethics Must Follow as Care and Connection

By Arlette Poland

Whitehead taught us that everything that ever was is somehow part of everything that is becoming and then that event that becomes will be part of the next things that are becoming. The activity that leaves out one or another of the past is actually a process: the process of becoming. Depending on the context (form or body, etc.) of that becoming event and its many relations to its context, it will filter out what it wishes. This is how, in Process, we can say that the many become the one and the many again.

Dynamism and relation is inherent in all existence. One thing that is being filtered out as we tumble to the bottom of this Kali Yuga (time of decline in many of the systems birthed in India) is ethics. Our technology continues to advance at a rate that makes one discovery outdated within 12 months. Perhaps it is this overwhelming speed of technological progress that results in ethics being prehended as not useful or a way to impinge on progress? Einstein was for progress but he vehemently objected to blind progress. By that, he meant that it should not be devoid of ethics. Whitehead was a strong advocate of novelty since without it, there is death. Novelty, however, does not mean that ethics must be left behind.

Whitehead believed and taught that in some important although not always recognized way, everything is connected to everything. If we become aware of that fact, as he encouraged, then we become aware of how natural it is to care about any and all other existence (-s), be it (they) the planet, the environment, the people in the other house or those in our house. Ethics and ethical care for others is built into Whitehead’s Process model – whether it is involves a deity or not.

We need our ethics to keep up with our technology. We are letting ethics fall behind as more people become mean on social media, and more people forget that words are actually powerful and can harm in so many ways. We need to slow down, realize how valuable our life is as another connection for other lives. We need to simply ask ourselves, every day… and every moment … what is my opportunity for greater care and connection for self and others in this moment? Did I see it? Did I act on it?

Things do not happen for a reason; they happen for an opportunity.

Whitehead would posit that every becoming event is an opportunity. I add that the good in an opportunity is the good (read care and connection) we find and use for self and others.


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