As a staff, we’ve been reading a little 7 Habits (thanks, Stephen Covey!) and wanted to share a few ideas that feel particularly relevant to our work. Throughout the book, Covey speaks highly of integrity and discipline:
A firm adherence to a code of values
The state of being complete, whole, or undivided
Total honesty and sincerity
The ability to “walk our talk”
Activity that improves a skill
Controlling behavior to mold moral character
Habits and ways of acting developed through practice
A combination of these practices is crucial to active citizenship, as it influences the way we live out our values. Good intentions don’t always lead to good practice, and ultimately we need to change the way we act, not just think.
For example, as alternative breakers, most would say that we value empathy - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Yet despite our best intentions, most of us are still quick to make assumptions, offer advice, share our own story, or even blatantly disagree in conversations with others - before fully hearing or understanding what is being said.
In situations like these, our actions fall out of line with our stated values, and we often need someone else to point out these incongruities. We must have the integrity and discipline to act in line with our values, even when it feels uncomfortable. Active citizens are committed to a constant process of learning, unlearning, and adapting behavior - starting first with ourselves and our own behavior - whether conscious or not.