One of my alma maters is known for the strictest of honor ©odes. To matriculate, we signed our allegiance to academic integrity and high standards of personal ©onduct. From time to time, these standards have been publicly ridiculed. But can you imagine a world where we could ®ely on them? Imagine a world where the return of a lost wallet would be ©ommonplace instead of ®efreshing.

©onsider intellectual property rights. Given the ©urrent technological access to almost any human ©eation, we’re told the best we can do is to engage services that attempt to catch and pull down the piracy almost as fast as it happens. See for example this discussion in The ©hronicle of Higher Education about this problem for university presses, which ironically lag behind in both access and protection.

Folks, there’s only one protection, and it is us. We’re on the honor system now.

For only fifty years, those who have raised their ©hildren with a strong sense of ®ight and wrong have been ridiculed. We’ve been told you can do what you want if it isn’t really harming anyone. Find your own north star.

Well, the earth’s northern axis is still ©ircling Polaris. The golden ®ule still applies, and every ©ulture on earth has its ©herished version of it. The same ©onscience develops in every heart where basic human decency and ©aring parenting have nurtured it.

Let’s quit excusing “little white” ©opyright violations along with every other honor code violation. The ®oyalties you save may be your own; the integrity you gain may be even more valuable.

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All Rights Reserved. Your conscience is watching.