Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Emerging Findings (very very draft and incomplete)

1. Definition of virtue:

Doing good works
Doing things for others with no expectation of reward
Working to develop and maintain progressive, positive relationships
Building communities
Going above and beyond the call of duty

2. What is in it for me?

Behaving virtuously meets emotional needs:
Makes me feel happy
Provides me with a sense of well being
Makes me feel like I have done my duty

Behaving virtuously meets my self expressive needs:
People think I am a good person

Behaving virtuously meets my rational needs:
Greases the wheels of social intercourse (makes it easier for me to meet people)
Helps my career (I get noticed for doing good things well and people ask me to do other things)
Broadens my network (I meet people who may help me later both personally and professionally)
I meet interesting people with whom I like to interact

3. Embedding virtue

Barriers to embedding virtue:

The word itself is huge: isn't virtue limited to people like Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa?
How to we make the word less threatening and more applicable to people like me?
How to get people to understand what is in it for them (what it will do for them, how it will change their lives positively)
How to get all people into positive communities (children will choose to be in a gang as a community rather than feel they are not in a community at all)
How to get people into communities that are isolated and therefore begin to lose confidence and self esteem (stay at home parents, elderly, long term unemployed)

Enablers to embedding virtue:

Leaders in organisations have power to:
- set standards of behaviour in the company so that doing things for others "above and beyond the call of duty" at work are the norm - become like breathing - must discuss this broadly in the organisation and involve people in the setting of these standards
- role model these behaviours
- develop opportunities for people to behave virtuously and thus come to understand how it changes their lives for the better: 1/2 day off per month/quarter to engage in volunteer work of their choice; 1 month off per 3 years to engage in volunteer projects at full or part pay; "quarter days" where a group of people from the organisatioin (including leaders) do something together like paint a hospital, clear rubbish, read to the elderly, etc (thus team building at the same time). Must be more than giving money - must involve time and relationship building/community building

Individuals can:

- ask themselves who do I know? who do I love? what can I do for them? How can I build relationships for myself (with estranged family/friends; with lady who sells me my paper every day; with neighbours)
- can get involved in my local community (what interests me - environment, traffic, cycling, children, elderly, sports, gardening...) and get involved
- can can ask other people (friends, neighbours) to join them in their virtuous activities (best way of getting a new member of a club is through referral because people are shy/nervous of walking into a new place without knowing a soul)
- exercise good manners (making eye contact and thanking people like bus drivers, canteen ladies, people in shops, drivers who let you into traffic.....)
- take 5 minutes out every day to contemplate. In contemplation (prayer, meditation, great works of art, nature...) we think about our own behaviour and we make a connection to something outside of ourselves causing us to think one way or another about the greater whole of which we are a small part. It is in big or small ways always transformative.

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