Tag Archives: ethics

Do Unto Others… Codes By Which We Live

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Codes of ethics are the rules we use to govern the way we want to live. Last week we discussed Codes of Character. This week we’ll discuss Codes of Karate, which believe it or not, promotes a philosophy for living your life in addition to a philosophy for fighting.

Karate-do (the way, or philosophy, of the empty hand) teaches more than punching, striking and kicking. It advocates peace, harmony and balance. The following are the eight codes of Isshinryu karate (the Kenpo Gokui) that we learn in our school.

1. A person’s heart is the same as heaven and earth.

In Chinese thought, heaven and earth means the universe. This code states humans must be one with the universe. We must get along with our fellow man. In short, this code is about harmony.

2. The blood circulating is similar to the moon and sun.

The moon follows the sun, and the sun follows the moon. This code is about cyclical change, which is one of the stages of change in the I-Ching. This code also teaches harmony.

3. The manner of drinking and spitting is either hard or soft.

Drinking means taking in, inhaling, retreating. Spitting means expelling, exhaling or advancing. Hard or soft shows the concept of yin and yang. This code is about balance.

4. A person’s unbalance is the same as a weight.

Again, balance. Yin and yang.

5. The body must be able to change position at any time.

This code is about flexibility and adaptability in ones thoughts as well as in action.

6. The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself.

This code is about taking advantage of opportunity, seizing the moment.

7. The eyes must see all sides

This code is about awareness of self, as well as of surroundings.

8. The ears must listen in all directions.

In addition to awareness, this code is about knowledge.

There is so much more to be learned from the codes of karate than what I’ve posted here. However, I thought this served as a good example of a written code of ethics.

What codes do YOU live by? Where did you learn them? How have your codes shaped the person you are? And do you teach them to others?

~K.M. Fawcett

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The Not So Secret Code of Character

Codes are all around us: computer codes, genetic codes, building codes, zip codes, Morse code and bar codes. The military has codes, professionals have codes, even pirates have codes (though I hear they’re more like guidelines than actual rules.)


So what is a code? According to the online Free Dictionary a code is…

  1. A systematically arranged and comprehensive collection of laws.
  2. A systematic collection of regulations and rules of procedure or conduct.

Basically, codes are the rules we use to govern the way we want to live. Our codes of honor, ethics and conduct make up our conscious. They give us a moral compass for orienteering our way though life. Right or wrong, we all have a philosophy by which we live. And so should our characters.

We enjoy stories of heroes with a strong moral code; Yoda (Star Wars), Mr. Miyagi (The Karate Kid), William Wallace (Braveheart). We also enjoy stories of heroes with codes that rival the rules of society. Who doesn’t love a wronged hero who takes matters into his own hands, even if that means going against the law?  He’s redeemable in our eyes as long as he is 1) true to his own moral philosophy and 2) that moral philosophy doesn’t stray too far from our own beliefs.

Were you cheering for Dr. Richard Kimball (Harrison Ford) in The Fugitive? Why? He was an escaped convict. How about Rambo (Sylvester Stallone)? He killed cops and blew up a town. What about Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) in Romancing the Stone? He was a mondo dismo.**  😉

Even though these heroes weren’t always heroic, they had a clear code of conduct they believed in and followed. That glimpse into their psyche enabled the viewers to understand their actions, to justify them and sympathize with the character.  That emotional connection between character and reader is exactly what we’re striving to achieve in our writing.

Have you given your hero and heroine a clear set of codes to live by? How about your villain?

In the comments, please share which characters (books or movies) you believe have a (not so secret) code of conduct. And why you find them intriguing.

~K.M. Fawcett


**Joan Wilder: You’re a mondo dismo!
Jack Colton: I’m… what am I? I’m what?
Joan Wilder: You’re a man who takes money from stranded women!

(I love that movie! :))