Examining the Rise of Violence Across the Nation

Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Anne Klaeysen, DMin, the Leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, to talk about current social justice issues including the rise of hate groups and violence in the U.S.

6/5/19 #2226






"We're pleased to be joined by Doctor Anne Klaeysen, the Leader at New York Society for Ethical Culture, over on 64th Street and Central Park West. Good to have you. Thank you. Good to be here. Now a few years ago, I was over at your place for an important discussion that was taking place. Important discussions take place there? Yes they do. Describe it for folks who may now know it. Okay. Yeah. Well the New York Society for Ethical Culture was founded by Felix Adler in 1876. And he was only 24 at the time. And I always say that because we have this image of him as being this you know, this old guy, kind of, you know, austere, and yet he was, you know, a youngster comparatively. And he was supposed to take his father's place as Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El. But when he came back from his studies in Germany, he said, "You know, I'm thinking about things a little differently now." He gave his sermon at Temple Emanu-El talking about how, you know, religion isn't really doing what it should do. We should be outside. We should be in the marketplace. We should be standing next to the working person. Why are we inside? And so the trustees said, "Well, you're brilliant, and you have a great future ahead of you. But not with us." [laughter] Right. So he taught for a while at Cornell University, which was just starting. And then he finally came back here. And in 1876 started Ethical Culture as a non-theistic religion of ethics. And what he meant by that is we have so many battles. So much disagreements over what we believe and what we don't believe, and why don't we settle on how we behave? Let's put ethics at the center of our lives. So when you came into our building, you might have noticed that in the lobby there is a saying, "Deed above creed." That's right. Yeah. That's right. So you know, for those who use the word "ethics" and "morals" in the same sentence, you say? Yeah. Yeah, I... you know, I think there is a distinction... here's a distinction I make. And that is that I think that morality, morals, are just something that you might be taught in your family. Growing up in your community. It's sort of something... Or, for me, it was in CCD class. Yeah but... oh, me too! I grew up Catholic. Same...? Yeah. [laughter] Yeah. But I think it's sort of those things that you learn, you know, from childhood. And you grow into a family, into a tribe, into a community, ethics, I think, has a more universal aspect..."