Just the mention of ethics can make someone cringe. Not because they lack ethics, but because of its affiliation with academia. We’re taught it for a reason, however.
“EthicsNOW” aims to explain how everyone can apply ethics to everyday life – without the textbooks.
Kathleen Sabo, New Mexico Ethics Watch executive director, hosts the New Mexico-based podcast. She is joined by humanities scholars Will Barnes and Paul Biderman.
Sabo said the pandemic was the trigger point to creating “EthicsNOW.”
“When the pandemic started, we said, how can we serve the public?” she explained. “Let’s help people look at these issues ahead of time, so that when they’re faced with an ethical issue, they’ve got their thinking in order and they don’t surprise themselves.”
Sabo said the original 2020 production was raw, but after they navigated the bureaucratic process of applying for a grant, the New Mexico Humanities Council eventually funded the project.
Sabo is an attorney with an extensive, award-winning background in the Legislature, teaching, journalism and radio production, and also has experience in social and political analysis and strategic planning.
“Ethics is, at its core, not just thinking about yourself, but about others, about the whole, about your community,” she said.
Barnes and Biderman bring strong and sound opinions to the show, as well as questions that aim to make people ponder about decision making. Both educate listeners on the scholarly side of ethics we’re accustomed to from our standard learning in high school and college, but also provide examples of relatable daily situations where ethics can be applied.
There are a plethora of topics discussed on “EthicsNOW,” including the workforce, medicine, immigration, child care and education, technology, the arts and politics – which is especially relevant during an election year.
“I’m afraid that we’re, like lots of other things, sort of dividing ourselves into two camps,” Sabo said. “We see that separation.”
The three discussed whether or not ethical politics and government can exist, coming to the conclusion that “yes, of course they can, but people have to buy into it,” Sabo said.
Influence and exposure play a vital role in shaping a person’s ethical gauge, and embracing ethical thought and being more aware that ethics exist even in the most minor of daily situations can help an individual decide what is best for them and their community.
For New Mexico, Sabo says the focus is to create a more equitable society.
“There’s such a range of people living in abject poverty to people living in extreme wealth,” Sabo said. “It’s not acting ethically, so we have equality, it’s fostering equality so that we then all act ethically. … I think that’s really pertinent to New Mexico.”
Bringing conversations into a more mainstream setting is key to exposing people to the vast history, as well as the application of ethics. Larger newspapers have ethics columns and the principles have even been the premise of network television programs such as NBC’s “The Good Place,” but podcasts have become one of the more popular mediums reaching a broad range of audiences.
Sabo, Barnes and Biderman now have the material, production and platform to share their expert thoughts on ethics, from how much toilet paper a person should buy, to cutting someone off in traffic, to voting on the political landscape of the country.
“Our mission with this podcast is to help prepare people for when these situations arise,” Sabo said. “Getting yourself to pay attention to ethics, from whatever medium you’re drawn to, would just make you more aware that this is a subject and it’s in my life all the time.”
Episodes of “EthicsNOW” are available on all major podcast platforms.