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How To Navigate A Mean Society

Let's face it. In our positions, we routinely see the underside of human behavior. I try to act with grace and compassion with individuals regardless of how they are treating me. We don't know their story and trials and tribulations that got them to the point we see them.

We can use grace and compassion to work with, help, and manage individuals on a bad day. But what do we do about a society that just seems to be mean? Whether it is lying in the public sphere, being rude to a waiter or flight attendant in a social interaction, or our entire political landscape that is based on feeding rage to people so they stay mad all of the time, we are inundated by "meaness" in American society. I read a great article about how political operatives want to keep people enraged. Keeping people enraged prevents them from thinking clearly...or thinking on their own at all!

One reason we are in this predicament is the prevailing philosophy that individual freedom trumps all other considerations in society. The dominant narrative is, "What is good for me is the only thing that matters." Taken to its logical conclusion, this philosophy creates conditions in which people get angry when they cannot do (or believe they can't do) exactly what they want when they want to do it. 

Countering this dominant view of how people should act in society is really important.

One alternative to the "individual freedom" mindset is to simply care.
  • Care about other people.
  • Care about your community.
  • Care about your school.
  • Care about those less fortunate than you.
  • Care about those more fortunate than you.
  • Care about the world you live in.
The list can go on and on once you sit down and think about caring instead of "what's in it for me."

To help us along, philosophers Joan Tronto and Bernice Fisher created a framework to think about caring.
Do you think you can be attentive, take responsibility, be competent, and be responsive to people you interact with, with your community, and with your society?

It is easy to sit back and say, "It's not my problem," or "Someone else will do it." Well, we are starting to see what happens in our political world when highly motivated people (that do not have an ethic of care) start wielding the levers of power...not good stuff.

We need to start operating with an understanding of the ethic of care in our local communities and workplaces.

Action Item: What is something that you can do TODAY to show you are more attentive, responsible, competent, and responsive to a need that you see?


Things You Can Control

Our words + Our choices
Our routine + Our actions 
What we read + What we watch 
Forgiving others + Self Care
Evaluating our priorities + How we speak to ourselves

Action Item: Which one of these items do you need to concentrate on this week?
Culture Cleanup In Your Scool
Joe Sanfelippo says that it only takes 30 seconds to make a positive impact on your school's culture. Whether that is recognizing a learner or staff member, showing humility in front of a group, or just being nice, little actions throughout the day add up to create a culture. 

As a matter of fact, actions speak louder than words when it comes to culture. You may have the best slogans, have those slogans written on the walls, but if you (and I mean YOU as an individual) don't live those slogans through actions, then the slogans are meaningless. A point of fact, what you do means more than what you say (or claim to believe).

As you think about the culture at your work, remember these three signs of a poor culture.
  1. Lack of respect undermines work culture
  2. Lack of meaning makes work demoralizing
  3. Lack of cohesiveness sabotages work culture
Action item: Do a simple  "culture audit" by asking yourself, and at least five other people in your school, if they feel respected, if their work has meaning to them (if it does, what is that meaning?), and do they feel part of something bigger than just showing up to work?
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