Sunday Snippet: Ted Koppel

“Aspire to decency. Practice civility toward one another. Admire and emulate ethical behaviour wherever you find it. Apply a rigid standard of morality to your life; and if, periodically you fail, as you surely will–adjust your life, not the standards.”

Easily one of the most respected American broadcast journalists of all time, Ted Koppel is best known for anchoring the Nightline program from 1980 until he retired from the job in 2005. He’s still active today, but not in the same capacity as he once did.

In the quote above, he reminds us of the importance of being kind and courteous to your fellow man. Far too often, we encounter people who will go to any length to advance themselves, casting morals and ethics to the wind. That’s not the way we should lead life.

Just as Mitch Albom taught us how the way to add meaning to our lives is to devote ourselves to the community around us, Ted Koppel teaches us never to sacrifice our moral standpoint in the face of adversity. Another great example of this is the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

I remember watching a news program that interviewed an elderly couple in rural Japan and they were working as quickly as they could to fix up their own home, “so we can help the others.” That demonstrates not only personal responsibility, but also a commitment to your fellow man. Even in the face of extreme hardship, the Japanese people are not looting stores and breaking property; they maintain their civility (to a fault).

The quote was recommended to me by Joseph Planta, who has this to say about Koppel’s line:

“This means a great deal to me. Decency, civility, ethical behaviour and morality are all pervasive, strong ideals. They’re difficult to attain, and personally we know when we fall short. They’re not impossible however, and that’s the lens from which we ought to look at our lives and how we conduct ourselves.”

Well said, Joseph.