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Rasmussen 1 Rachel Rasmussen COMM 494 Dr.

Ken Chase February 13, 2014 Ethical Communication Credo A recent movie, Her in which a lonely, recently divorced man falls in love with an operating system exemplifies many principles of communication. First, communication constitutes relationships, molds culture, and shapes the world. The relationship between Samantha and Theodore was composed of only verbal communication, because she did not have a body. Second, life devoid of communication is impossible. Theodore suffered deep loneliness in his life, especially as a result of the lack of meaningful communication he had daily. Finally, growing technology expands the definition of communication daily and redefines the connection of humankind. Her completely reshapes preconceived conceptions of how much technology can do, and portrays an operating system in better-than-human light. Communication studies energize the academic world with deeply relevant concepts. In this thrilling, dynamic, and strange world, ethical principles of communication demand to be established. Ethical communication is informed by dignity seeking, action-oriented, globally focused, reconciliatory, holistic principles. I insist that the prime goal of communication should be to promote human dignity. I strive to be globally-minded in my communication I believe that communication needs to be cohesive with action. I advocate that communication be redemptive, seeking reconciliation. I affirm that communication be holistic. I aim to practice presence in communication.

Rasmussen 2 The prime goal of communication should be to promote human dignity. As a Christian, my ideas of human dignity proceed from believing that human beings are created in the Image of God. As unique image-bearers of Christ, all people deserve to be treated with dignity, regardless of social status, physical condition, gender, age, race, education, or sexual preference. Diversity should be celebrated as beautiful and valuable. Treating people with dignity implies communicating value and respect in every interaction. The principle of dignity informs all ethics of communication, creating a constructive base for ethical practices. Human dignity begins with self-respect. Without self-respect, respect for others remains impossible. Healthy respect promotes dignity internally which manifests in communication. Lack of self-respect can lead to an unhealthy downward spiral of self-pity and negative cyclical relational patterns. Allowing others to be disrespectful furthers a lack of self-respect. Communicating with self-respect catalyzes respecting others. If I cannot respect myself, I will lack the ability to respect other people as well. Allowing others to disrespect is detrimental to human dignity. Injustice dehumanizes both the oppressor and the oppressed. The oppressor divorces his ability to empathize, becoming a force of evil power. The oppressed loses her sense of value, feeling less-than human. Communication must be employed to challenge power structures which perpetuate injustice in the world today, to free both the oppressor and the oppressed to flourish in dignity. The freedom to communicate and the privilege to be listened to are not universally available, and so, people with power should manage their communication to advocate for the rights of those without power. I strive to be globally-minded in my communication. The simple communication principle of other-orientedness informs a global mindset. Other-orientedness concludes the importance of being focused on others in communication instead of me. As globalization catalyzes the

Rasmussen 3 connection between people everywhere, the other expands beyond my proximal neighbor to my neighbor in Azerbaijan or Thailand. Globally-minded communication requires recognition of inherited power structures that perpetuate injustice and understanding of cultural values and how those constitute many communication norms. Living with that larger global community in mind implies contemplation of actions and consequences. These consequences implicate effects on the global community and not those within my daily circles. A tangible example of this is the clothing industry, largely supplied by factories in Southeast Asia. In the past year, there have been several factory collapses, and over a thousand people have died. The companies that source labor from these factories include many brands that fill the closets of Americans daily. Buying clothing from companies that do not hold to high standards of human dignity in their manufacturing is casting a vote for a world in which the underprivileged are exploited and the rich rewarded. Action-orientation necessitates movement and creates authentic communication. I believe that communication needs to be cohesive with action. Action energizes communication; communication tempers action. Without movement, communication floats into ultra-cerebral realms or plunges into introspective cynicism. Doing grounds communication in present reality, checking the cognitive with the behavioral. Cognitive dissonance theorists were concerned with the order in which action and belief happen. Do actions change beliefs? Or do beliefs predict actions? Because of the complex interplay between cognitive and behavioral, authentic communication occurs when beliefs and actions parallel. If my body (action) is doing one thing, while my mind (belief) is thinking something else, then my communication is ungenuine. For example, if I believe that smoking is wrong, then smoke a cigarette, my behaviors are in dissent with my beliefs. The behavior is communicating a belief that smoking is good. But my beliefs

Rasmussen 4 (which may be in thought, verbal, or written form) are communicating that smoking is wrong. Contradiction between belief and action creates inauthentic communication. Alternately, the harmony of belief and action establishes credible communication. With cognition and behavior aligned, dissonance disappears. Credibility increases because others are not receiving confusing messages. Another facet of action-oriented communication is abating passivity. Consumer-driven culture promotes acquiescence to excessive consumption. Many people in the digital age consume drastically less than they produce. Passivity squelches creativity by encouraging disengagement. I believe that being made in the image of the Creator God necessitates creating as a naturally human tendency. Living passively ignores the need to create, lessening fulfillment. But active opposes passive. Developing action-oriented communication initiates an engaged lifestyle in which creating becomes possible. Being action-oriented heeds the body, soul, and mind as one. Cohesiveness between cognition and behavior is produced by action-oriented communication. Communication possesses potential for influence and change. I advocate that communication be redemptive, seeking reconciliation. Work constitutes relationships: often, communication is messy, difficult, and complicated. A commitment to reconciliation recognizes the value of relationships and the pain broken relationships cause. Committing to reconciling when at all possible means believing that people and the positions they hold can change (including myself). Interpersonal reconciliation depends on the willingness to hope that past hurt can be overcome. The importance of reconciliation resounds in the gospels through the life of Jesus. He sought to save, instead of condemning, and offers us ultimate forgiveness, reconciling

Rasmussen 5 us to the perfect Father. Because of his example, I believe that reconciliation is key to communicating. Beyond interpersonal reconciliation, the need for structural redemption and racial reconciliation overwhelms society today. Years of exploitation, hurt, and pain continue building while a few fight in resistance. Because I believe in human dignity, I believe that each person is equally valuable. Systemic injustice which benefits few and exploits or marginalizes many sickens me. As a member of the upper-middle-class-white population, I am on the benefiting side of many political and economic systems. I feel convicted to use whatever position I may occupy to challenge those systems and fight marginalization. Although cynicism tempts, many beautiful stories of reconciliation exist. For example, the East African country of Rwanda suffered an extremely violent genocide between tribes. As a country, they have achieved significant reconciliation since then and recovered tremendously. These stories exemplify that through reconciliation positive change occurs in the world today through daring hope. Finally, I affirm that communication be holistic. With the specification that occurs in society today: orthopedic doctors, mental health specialists, spiritual mentors, the disconnect between body, mind, and spirit prevails. Compartmentalizing needs into distinct, arrangeable boxes tempts, but human needs weave between aspects of existence creating a sticky web. Touch one strand and the fragile web shivers; break a thread and the entire web caves responsively. For communication to be holistic, I aim to practice intentional presence. Especially in conversations, a wandering mind separates the mind from the body and rejects the other person in the conversation by valuing my thoughts above her words. By intentionally remaining engaged, dignity will be communicated. Recognizing people as whole human beings and not separately physical and sexual, intellectual, spiritual, or emotional promotes dignity.

Rasmussen 6 Promoting dignity is the primary goal of communication, achieved through actionoriented, globally focused communication that hopes for reconciliation and embraces holistic practices. Ethical communication needs to prevail in all areas and forms, from intrapersonal communication to mass-media communication. My hope is to embody ethical communication daily and continually be learning what that means through experimenting, listening, praying, and living with a humble attitude of perpetual learning.

Rasmussen 7 Sources Ackermann, D. (2003). After the locusts: Letters from a landscape of faith. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans. Andreas, M. (2011). Sweet fruit from the bitter tree: 61 stories of creative & compassionate ways out of conflict. Boulder, CO: Real People Press. De, L. T. M. A. (2007). Liberating Jonah: Forming an ethics of reconciliation. Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbis Books. Griffin, E. A. (2012). A first look at communication theory. New York: McGraw-Hill. c eill, , orrison, , ouwen, H , il rtiga, Compassion, a

reflection on the Christian life. Sayers, D. L. (1987). The mind of the Maker. San Francisco: Harper & Row.