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EthiChem – A Newsletter
Since 2022, the WP Ethics in Chemistry publishes a bimonthly Newsletter. Please download the issues here:
Issue 2 (May 2022) (Content: News: Thematic Meetings 25.2. and 4.5.2022, Steering Board Meetings 25.3. and 8.4.2022; Case of (un)ethical chemistry: Prof. Zhang’s drug testing business; Essay: Ethical behavior in Chemistry: Bridging the knowledge-action gap (H.W. Steisslinger); Reading corner: International Ethics in Chemistry: Developing Common Values across Cultures (S.M. Schelble, K.M. Elkins); Profile: Prof. Dr. Erhard Meyer-Galow (Honorary Member of the WP Ethics in Chemistry))
Prof. Dr. Erhard Meyer-Galow
Prof. Dr. Erhard Meyer-Galow was a chemist in various important positions in the chemical industry, such as CEO of Brenntag AG, Hüls AG, Stinnes AG and member of the board of VEBA AG. In 1998/99 he was president of the GDCh and played a major role in the launch of business chemistry. Today he is an author, speaker, founder and sponsor. He has been President of the
Humboldt Society for the last three years and is now Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Bhutan in Germany. For more information, visit his website at www.ligw.de.
The appointment as an honorary member of the "EuChemS Working Party on Ethics in Chemistry" is a surprising appreciation and honorable distinction for me. I sincerely thank all members of the group and especially Hartmut Frank who launched the initiative. It shows me that my intensive promotion of a new ethic is being noticed and valued. In this way, I am happy to comply with the request to present my personal view and experience for the newsletter. So, my contribution is to be understood as a further impetus to improve ethics and morality.
Since, as a chemist, I worked exclusively in business after graduation, I will report on my experience with business ethics. I am happy about every effort to bring ethics and morality into the world. Even now, the new, strengthened
initiative of the Working Party is worth getting involved with. It seems urgently necessary to me when I look at the undesirable developments of the past decades. Have all the ethics guidelines, seminars, training courses and lectures been of no use? And why is that so and how to improve the effectiveness of all initiatives? The depth psychology of C.G. Jung was an eye opener for me as he kept emphasizing that we can give up the ambition to change others. It won't work. All we can do is try to change ourselves, and that's difficult enough. When we tell others about our individuation, impulses for their change may arise.
I've also struggled for years. But then I found that when the individual comes under pressure, everything is forgotten and immorality increases. So it's obviously about resilience, resisting immoral offers to improve one's egocentric
position. The cognitive decision on sustainable ethics does not last long. You have to grow on the inside in order to behave morally in the long term on the outside. So it's about leading yourself before you want to lead others.
Therefore, for me, ethics is a question of leadership and not just a question of appeals and guidelines for others. Of course, you can force others to behave ethically if you threaten punishment. But that is neither fruitful nor
sustainable. You have to grow into ethics, from the inside out. Ethics is then the result of an inner growth. The paths of inner growth are not aimed at ethics. It is about connecting to the lost wholeness. It is about "Transparency for the immanent Transcendence", as my teacher Karlfried Graf Dürckheim liked to define the meaning of life. Ethics is then just a by-product. It arises from clear deep heart- mind, the state of pure awareness, not-knowing, not-wanting and not rejecting. So, in my opinion, sustainable ethics need to take a detour via inner growth. Then and only then does the individual behave ethically well in the
long term, not because they have to, but because they cannot do otherwise.
These insights and experiences on the one hand and the constantly increasing immorality in business have prompted me to write my book Business Ethics 3.0 – The New Integral Ethics from the Perspective of a CEO, from which I try to convey the basics, as a kind of teaser. But in a way, the following can only be fragments. The book is intended to create a desire for change in business ethics
which has thus far largely been practiced simply as damage control (Business Ethics 1.0). An advanced approach to business ethics took more proactive steps to clarify the mission and vision, resulting in companies developing ethical guidelines and ethics training (Business Ethics 2.0).
But it is evident by observing actions in the marketplace that ethical behavior in business has only made marginal advances towards a New Ethic which encompasses sustainable moral behavior and ethical practices. Clearly
something vital is still missing.
It is essential, first, that we recognize that those working in the economic sector of society understand that practices built upon unethical or immoral foundations can never result in personal or professional success or satisfaction.
We must realize secondly that it is not possible to live and manage in an ethically and morally defensible manner by following an externally imposed set of rules. The third essential is that we recognize that sustainable ethical and
moral practices arise not from a focus upon the energy draining striving for success and wealth at any cost, but rather from inner peace, stability and balance in our life, qualities which result from the awakening of the awareness of our inner dimension. Only by drawing upon this inner resource can we establish a satisfying, peaceful work/life balance, one which leads us to lasting inner peace
and freedom. This balance is essential for the development of the resilience which will allow us to withstand the temptations of the outer world; temptations which encourage us to act in a self-serving fashion, ultimately resulting in our suffering, anxiety and stress.
Our ego-mind is so dominant that we have separated ourselves from our inner sources; from our most important roots. We must first heal our wounds if we are able to embrace ethical practices in a sustainable fashion. To accomplish this we must bridge the gap to our soul and to our spirit. Our soul is our guide to the spirit. Therefore, the connection to the soul is essential for spiritual growth as a
life purpose. The generalized immoral behavior currently rampant in society is evidence that all of the books, numerous appeals, guidelines and serious protestations for sustainable ethical and moral behavior have had no discernable effect upon individuals or the economy. If my teacher Karlfried Graf Dürckheim were still alive he would make the following observation:
It helps little to constantly preach about collective ethics and morality when the individuals that make up this collective are stuck in their rational one-sided egocentricity which constantly blocks their actual purpose in life, their individuation, and the balance of body, ego-mind, soul and spirit which is necessary in order for us to become a completely holistic person. The human in the Anthropocene has no consciousness of this aberration. He has completed the separation from the numinous. Therefore, as he does not know why he is suffering, he cannot build bridges to his soul that could lead him to the
unconscious wherein lies the huge energy and creative potential which could expand his severely restricted consciousness. He has destabilized and weakened himself and now he is asked to entertain the upholding of ethics and moral behavior. It is all the more difficult as he is also suppressing his dark side because of the ethics dilemma, repressing it into the shadow out of which it then again and again bursts forth, expressing itself societally in an immoral,
Erich Neumann, scholar of C.G. Jung, in his book "Depth Psychology and a New Ethic" (1990 Shambala Boston &London) explained in detail that our previous Christian ethic, in which we were only allowed to be good, has ended up in a dead end. The individual suppresses the dark, evil content of our thoughts and actions. However, we remain aware of this content. Furthermore repression is worse. It disappears into our unconscious and is up to mischief there.
Suppression and repression end up in the shadow of our person. So we can continue to walk through the world with a mask (persona) and show the outside world how good and nice we are. However, our shadow keeps pushing into
the outside world as a projection and wreaking havoc. We simply have to admit that we have dark and light, good and bad parts of ourselves. Suppression and repression only make it worse. On the way to the real individual (the
indivisible) it is always about the integration of the shadow. We must mindfully learn to recognize the rising of the shadow when it wants to rise and still remain in control of our lives.
Very often it is not simply the decision to do the good and prevent the bad. It is more complicated in life because of the Principle of Double Effect. Our actions most often have more effects than simply the desired one. Frequently the
others may be undesirable. In order to assess, when this was occurring, scholastic ethics formulated the Principle of the Double Effect. This principle addresses the question of under which conditions one may agree with the undesired effects as well as the desired effects. Traditionally the principle is formulated as follows. The approval or causation of damage is permitted if:
· the action is not intrinsically evil,
· the damage is not specifically intended as a purpose,
· the damage is not specifically intended as a means to
· in the approval of damage to occur there is a
corresponding basic reason,
If anyone of these conditions is not met, then authorization for the action is not ethical. It therefore very often requires a well-founded consideration fed by inner wisdom for our ethically impeccable work in the world.
C.G. Jung demands that the life task of individuation be recognized and practiced. Shadow integration is just one aspect. This inner growth process succeeds in depth psychology through dream work and active imagination.
Spiritual paths such as meditation, contemplation and hundreds of other approaches can also lead to inner growth. I have personally been practicing Zen meditation for 40 years. For my friend Hans Peter Dürr, quantum physics and the loving dialogue with others were the sources of inner growth. If serenity, compassion and empathy grow through these paths, ethics and morality
can only be the positive result of all efforts.
So I see ethics as a leadership task, for oneself and for leading others. Prerequisite is the own role model function and the dialogue. Then others may follow. Business ethics 1.0 was all about covering up and denying immoral acts.
Business ethics 2.0 was more proactive and packed training and statements into wonderful ethics guidelines. The Ethics 3.0 presented by me tries to compensate for the deficits of the above-mentioned ethics approaches and offers a holistic approach in which the inner growth is in the foreground and ethics result from it.
If I were to give the readers the most important personal key statements for an ethic that comes from within and that wants to be brought into the world as a leadership task, as a pledge, then I would formulate:
I vow to make the living more lively.
I am aware that all beings and the whole cosmos are
connected to each other and are in constant interaction.
With this expanded consciousness, I experience a lively
exchange with my fellow human beings and nature.
All wisdom is created in us, including sustainable ethics. We
don't have to reinvent them. We just have to prevent
anything that destroys them.
I strive for an expanded consciousness that goes beyond
mere thinking and knowledge and from which ethics and a
sense of responsibility can grow.
I try to be mindful in my life so that I notice in time when
the destructive evil wants to take over the constructive
Ethically good decisions bring me inner peace, wrong
decisions do not.
With our very special knowledge and experience we
chemists have a very important responsibility.
If I intervene in nature and society, I will reduce their
suffering and make a positive contribution to evolution. Not
because I have to, but because I can't do otherwise.
So it depends on each and every one of us; Day after day.