“For an ethic is not an ethic, and value not a value, without some sacrifice to it. Something given up, something not taken, something not gained.” Sacrifice makes intentions real. That is, you can talk about it doing with less, but when you do it and integrate it into your operational outlook, sacrifice demonstrates seriousness.
“We do it in exchange for the greater good, for something worth more than just money and power and position.” It’s easy to talk about making things better. The challenge is how, and how it will always require a degree of investment — time, money and, yes, even sacrifice.
“The great paradox of this philosophy is that in the end, it brings one greater gain than any other philosophy.” This statement reminds me of something that James Stockdale, one of the longest-serving prisoners of war at the Hanoi Hilton, wrote about power. Adm. Stockdale, who studied and wrote about stoic philosophy, stated that leaders gain authority by giving it away. Instead, Kohlberg speaks of the greater good and shows that sacrifice is necessary for achieving.
Some might be skeptical of Kohlberg’s lofty words. After all, he was at heart a corporate raider, though he was at odds with many of his firm’s practices and left 11 years later. Kohlberg personally was very generous with his wealth, funding many philanthropical ventures. His message is sound. It is a clarion call for a limitation on having everything your way. It is a demonstration that giving up something can lead to something better. This tenet is fundamental to every religion but must be spoken more institutionally.