RUSHWORTH M. KIDDER
1944 – 2012
Rushworth M. Kidder was the founder (in 1990) and president of the Institute for Global Ethics. He died on March 5, 2012. After teaching English at Wichita State University, Dr. Kidder joined the Christian Science Monitor as its London correspondent in 1979, later becoming a columnist and features editor for the newspaper, leaving it in 1990 to write and lecture about modern ethics until his death. He had started writing about ethics following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, producing several best-sellers (such as How Good People Make Tough Choices) among the dozen books he authored. His thoughts about ethics were easy to understand, but required us to work hard to select from among various competing "right”"decisions rather than the more simplistic choice between absolutes such as "right" over "wrong." Media Ethics asked Bob Steele, of the Poynter Institute, for a short tribute. We are glad to be able to reprint the thoughts which he produced for the Institute for Global Ethics’ Web site upon hearing of Kidder’s death.
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Rush Kidder. He was so thoughtful and very skilled at helping all of us address the complex ethical issues of our neighborhoods and our global society. His voice on values was clear, strong and distinct. He was the philosophical practitioner who was a practical philosopher.
I’m remembering one of his recent essays on The Ethics of Solitude. The final paragraph offers us guidance for reflection and action: "How we build an ethical case for solitude, then, may be one of the conundrums of our future. It won’t be easy, with the currents of conviviality and social responsibility running powerfully in the opposite direction. But unless we make the ethical case for reconnecting creativity and solitude, we stand to lose the very inventiveness and innovation on which our future rests. To stand by and watch that happen would be supremely unethical."
Rush Kidder has given us insight and inspiration to prompt our moral imagination and to guide our lives. For that, and for all he contributed, I am very appreciative.