You’ve Got One Round … Ethics

By | April 26, 2021

[April 26, 2021]  In the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers (2001), Episode 5, Lieutenant Winters gives the task of escorting German prisoners to the rear.1  He tells one of his trigger-happy soldiers, You’ve got on round [of ammo] … I want to make sure all the prisoners make it.

There is a lesson in ethics in this scene.  Winters cannot trust the soldier to do the right thing, so he puts that soldier into a position where he cannot do wrong without risking his own life.  In war, as in our daily lives, there are times we must insist others simply do the right thing.

“Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.” – Albert Schweitzer, French-German physician, theologian, and philosopher

Ethics, or simple honesty, are the building blocks upon which our society rests.  Our military, the economy, government, religion are all able to conduct their missions if they are set upon honest standards.

All groups – organizations and societies – are judged by their social standards.  And, those with the highest of ethics are held in the highest esteem.  Dr. Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto argues that the most basic of ethics is derived from inherited traits of survival.  While his argument is downplayed, Peterson’s main idea is that humans must have ethical standards; else, they melt into the goo of chaos and destruction.

I witnessed ethics in combat during the military trials of many Iraqi insurgents.  Each man (yes, they were all men) had been found with prohibited weapons or explosives with the intent to kill coalition soldiers and contractors.  Each was tried in a court of law established by the United States and based upon U.S. law.

Physical evidence is often lost on the battlefield when capturing prisoners.  Thus, many of those tried were released after coalition witnesses failed to provide sufficient evidence of insurgent activities.  “We knew they were guilty.  They knew they were guilty.  But we released them with the message that we would set an ethical standard and not deviate from it.”

Someday, we will only have one round.  This round we may never use, but we will be required to do what is right.

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  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4PoP_pyP5o
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “You’ve Got One Round … Ethics

  1. Gil Johnson

    I’m glad that Gen. Satterfield is using the miniseries Band of Brothers as a vehicle to get his ideas across. Well done.

    Reply
    1. Rev. Michael Cain

      Yeah, I’ve watched the show several times. Each time I watch, I see something important that I overlooked somehow (or forgot). This series is really well done. If you’ve not seen it, I think its even worth purchasing at the store. Have your kids watch it. Have your friends watch it. All good lessons.

      Reply
  2. Willie Shrumburger

    We are judged by the standards we keep. And, by those we surround ourselves with. Rightly so.

    Reply
    1. Tony B. Custer

      As it should be, Willie. Growing up, my dad always said that folks will look at me through those I have as friends. If my friends are good and smart, I will be seen as such. If my friends are criminals and hanger-ons, I will be seen as such. My dad was a smart guy.

      Reply
  3. Greg Heyman

    Best line of the article, “Ethics, or simple honesty, are the building blocks upon which our society rests. “

    Reply
  4. Army Captain

    The Law of Land Warfare. That is what Gen. Satterfield is referring to when he writes about ethics on the battlefield. But only a few armies adhere to this.

    Reply
  5. old warrior

    We are, indeed, required to do what is right. But most of us will only drift toward the right behavior unless we are chased by something that is evil. That way, perhaps, we will RUN to what is the right thing to do. 😊

    Reply
    1. Darwin Lippe

      That is why I come here to read Gen. Satterfield’s leadership blog. I can get good advice and learn a few snippets along the way. Just think, what if our politicians had learned as much. Too many of them believe they know better than us what to do. Some are smart in getting our ideas and concerns. Most do not. Like resident Joe Biden and his ilk, they believe they have the superior moral ground; but they do not. They are tearing down America.

      Reply
      1. Dead Pool Guy

        Darwin, likewise for me and, I think, for most of us here are thinking the same thing. However, I will say that it is also our duty to add to what is written here so that others can learn as well.

        Reply
  6. Jeff Blackwater

    Good article, thanks Gen. S. Another hit into the gut of stupidity (the one trait all of us have regardless of whether we want it or not).

    Reply
  7. Colleen Ramirez

    “We knew they were guilty. They knew they were guilty. But we released them with the message that we would set an ethical standard and not deviate from it.”
    Be magnanimous.

    Reply
    1. Doug Smith

      Show the way of righteousness. That is the path to being a practical leader and worthwhile person.

      Reply
  8. Karl J.

    Thanks Gen. Satterfield for helping reinforce the idea that we don’t go alone into the world without some form of guidance based on long-proven ways of being a ‘good’ person. When we allow those who would take advantage of people to gain power over the rest of us, we should look inside us and say, “I should have learned more and taught others more about the ethics of doing good.”

    Reply
  9. rjsmithers

    We should all be studying ethics and learn, as well, from many specific examples. That … most of us truly need.

    Reply
    1. Janna Faulkner

      But we will NOT do so because we are told “we are okay” and are “superior” to all the knuckle draggers of the past. Ha Ha…. too bad we are wrong about that.

      Reply
    2. Forrest Gump

      We will not and will have no desire to learn about ethics except when we are put into a situation that harms us in some way. That is why they have gotten rid of ethical training in so many colleges and in companies; they might actually hurt someone’s feelings.

      Reply
      1. JT Patterson

        Too many think this way, in my opinion. But we here reading Gen. Satterfield’s blog know better and can apply ourselves better. Just read, think, and analyze.

        Reply

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