Attributes of a Nonviolence Public Servant

by | Sep 8, 2019 | Culture and Science of Nonviolence | 0 comments

This reading requires you to write brief comments about yourself.  

A public servant who contributes to the struggle to serve humanity lives a lifestyle marked by a high degree of moral integrity.  Here are some of the most significant moral principles.  When they are combined together, they portray the life of a nonviolence servant.  After the description of each principle there is a question for you to answer.  Write your answers on a separate piece of paper or in your computer, and bring them to the study session.  Do not send your answers prior to the session.

Compassion

It is tenderness for others, a concern for their suffering along with a desire to help alleviate it. Compassion serves as a pedagogical nutrient, it amounts to a concern for others, and it ushers the recipient into the community. It permits the public servant’s integration into the tasks of research and discovery that are based on alleviating suffering. All conduct takes place in real time.  What we “do” sets the framework for “who” we are “bringing into being.”  Intellectual work, research, and study— are forms of conduct. Compassion directs conduct toward inclusion and cooperation.  Conduct directed toward alleviating suffering brings into being the public servant as an agent for health and healing.  

On a scale of 1-5, (one being low and five being high), rank your level of compassion.  Write at least two sentences explaining your ranking. Use another sheet of paper.

Solidarity

An act of solidarity creates affinity.  Solidarity encourages conduct that supports and unifies.   In the context of ultra-individualism and estrangement, solidarity engages individuals and groups through the act of collaborating and bringing coherence into their daily lives.  Solidarity unifies groups of individuals while it simultaneously unifies one’s personality.

It highlights conduct based on interdependence.  When we behave in ways that reinforce interdependence, actions bring people together based on our differences.

If you practice the value of solidarity, give a brief explanation of when, where, and how.

Modesty

Modesty, often misunderstood, forms the strength for the individual to be a true asset to the success of another.   In the rubric of egotism and greed, modesty is often detested as a weakness.  It is portrayed as a lack of confidence.  In an organized effort to bring into being a stronger democracy, modesty assists in the development of teamwork because it helps in the development of self-control that individuals need in order to honor and promote the success of others.  Too often servants take credit for something that others accomplished, or we inflate our own role in what was, essentially, a community accomplishment.  Modesty engenders behavior based on advancing the emotional, intellectual, and physical development of others.  It begets courtesy and dignity, and rejects the urge to “entitlement” for work done or hardship overcome.  Modesty induces one to accept the consequences of one’s actions. 

Do you consciously develop conduct that promotes your ability to be modest?  Yes or no.  Give a brief explanation.

Honesty, accuracy, and transparency

Honesty occurs in degrees.  “The afternoon is hot” one truly believes, knowing it could be hotter yet. Public servants regularly must make a statement that is relative.  That is, a statement may be honest when it stands alone, or when there are no other conditions to which the statement can be compared.    However, in reality statements refer to objects and activity that constantly change.  In addition, when making several statements, statements can present competing truths, and in choosing one particular truth, the public servant can, in reality, make previous statements untrue.  Honesty is not only truthfulness; it includes acts of accuracy and accountability.  Honesty and transparency offer similar ethical value to public servants.  While one may not tell a lie, one may regularly misjudge such important elements as time, costs, and other important aspects of organizing and developing a liberatory endeavor. Untruths can be committed by commission or omission.  Murder, for example, must involve an element of intended commission.  Manslaughter, on the other hand, has the element of omission—guilt by error and negligence.  Some of the cruelties in public service are carried out by commission, while others by omission. 

Do most of your untruthful acts come about as outright lies, acts of commission, or acts of omission?   Give a very brief explanation of your answer.

Curiosity

Curiosity is an intense desire to know.  It promotes conduct that reinforces an inquiring mind.  Much of the intense desire to know in the Western world has been channeled into the technology of war-making.  Not enough intense desire to know has focused on human psychology and sociology.  A stronger public service calls for focused intellectual and emotional searching and questioning.  It needs and deserves a thirst for knowing. Curiosity studies what we already know. That is, it goes back and critically analyzes concepts and conclusions previously learned.  It requires conduct that permits critical un-learning and genuine re-learning.  Curiosity avoids the feeling or thought of “I know” or “I’m right.”

On a scale of 1-5 (one being low and five being high), how curious are you?  Briefly explain your answer.

Courage

Dr. King defined courage and cowardice as:

Courage is the inner resolution to go forward in spite of obstacles and frightening situations; cowardice is a submissive surrender to circumstance. Courage breeds creative self-affirmation; cowardice produces destructive self-abnegation.  Courage faces fear and thereby masters it; cowardice represses fear and is thereby mastered by it. 

Often, public servants submissively surrender to circumstance.  Much of what servants do is to attempt to convince someone to do or stop doing something. Whether it is a teacher trying to get a student to behave in a more studious manner, or a community organizer trying to get a person to register to vote—the public servant stands the chance of failure, and failure can cost one his or her job or make them irrelevant.  However, the courageous act is not always the one that takes the rough and dramatic path. Sometimes, the courageous act is holding one’s tongue in the face of abuse or aggression.  From a Gandhian perspective, one cannot be nonviolent unless he/she has the power to inflict violence (Gandhi & Merton, 1965).  To hold one’s tongue because one has no ability to do otherwise is not courageous.  Many social relations today seem to submissively surrender to social drama and the mass media/entertainment industry’s promotion of stereotypes of trauma and shallow living.  The public servant can be sidelined by choosing to connect with the people by cowardly participating in the drama and trauma created by the media/entertainment industry. 

State a time or a general behavior that depicts you serving in a courageous way. Explain why you chose to do so.

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