The Organizational Work of Civility

Our work as Chaplains is to be in the thick of it with the people we serve.  We don’t get to punch out when the day is over.  We observe, pray, and reflect over what we see and hear, sense and experience.  

The role we play is rooted in our personal faith tradition, but never imposing.  God is the giver of freedom so we act accordingly.

In the age of social media, some clergy have chosen to bifurcate their social media presence and make it private, only adding close friends and family.  Others have chosen for their online platforms to be a space of connection with those they serve.  

We use our personal accounts in public ways.  In coding terms, WYSIWYG.  And yet, I share posts in humility because I don’t have all the answers.  And at times, I haven’t done the best job of being civil.  I get angry, frustrated, or ego driven.  If we’re honest, we sometimes wonder if social media was a healthy invention.  At my best self moments, I do love connecting with folks, seeing their stories, and learning from others.    

This post is not really about social media, but about civility.  Since the bulk of my work is in corporate, public places, I am constantly thinking about the pluralistic spaces I inhabit.  So many different views and ideologies exist among a few hundred souls.  And my work is to provide a space for people to be dignified and cared for.  

The work of civility is crucial in this period of time.  Scott Peck’s book, “ A World Waiting to be Born:  Civility Rediscover” was written a few decades ago but speaks to our current day realities where matters feel like they can escalate with one emoji and the send button.  

Peck believes that instead of more individualism (which is needed), the work of community in any organization is the vital work.  His community building organization focused on:

  • communicate with authenticity
  • deal with difficult issues
  • bridge differences with integrity
  • relate with love and respect.

In one story, he captures the work of being mindful of our intentions with others.  If we know, deep down, that the words and actions we’re about to engage will hurt the group or someone in the group, it is a good moment to pause and reflect on our inner pain and deprivation.  I guess motive and intention still matter.  

This is a hard and sobering way to approach life.  Mostly because it keeps us honest and humble about our interactions with others at work, home, and online.  And if there’s ever a time to engage in this community type of work, it’s now.  

You are the hope, the ray of sunshine.  We’re counting on each other to be people of civility.  Who else is going to do it…