Traditional approaches to healing focus on what is happening inside the four walls of our body; on how to make this internal system work better. But while our bodies and brains matter – a lot – there is also, inevitably, the context in which we live; all the forces “out there, in the real world” that are so influential in our lives. We can never fully heal unless we come to grips with these issues as well.
Radical Decency counseling seeks to do this, expanding the more traditional view of “holistic” healing – mind, body, and spirit – into a five-pronged approach that also encompasses “the practical” and “the radical.”
Feeling better and creating more satisfying relationships – these are essential aspects of living well. But so too are a fulfilling career and good money management. And the issues are deeply interwoven. Choices around money and career vitally affect our relationships – and vice versa. A radically decent approach to healing teaches emotional competence and, equally, the real world skills and strategies that allow us to more effectively negotiate the world as it is – “the practical.”
But because we live in an endemically indecent world, fitting in better – as important as it is – is not enough. Why? Because these strategies, without something more, require us to play by the rules of the mainstream culture, with all their spirit-draining emotional and practical demands. We need, in addition, to actively mold the environments in which we live, in ways that are more decent and humane –”the radical.”
In counseling, feeling better is always job one. But the most productive work is not just about relieving symptoms. We can only move beyond the painful thoughts and feelings that, too often, dominate our lives when they are replaced by a more hopeful vision.
For a fuller description of this aspect of a radically decent approach to living read::
Reflection 24: Holistic Healing – A Five Pronged Approach
Reflection 5: Radical Decency Guideposts for Healers
Reflection 11: Recognizing, Naming and Valuing Difference
Reflection 41: Safety and Aliveness
Reflection 59: Happiness
Reflection 44: Intimate vs. Strategic Relationships
Reflection 35: Salaried Workers – Limitations and Possibilities
Join our ongoing conversation. We welcome your comment
I want to give you a heads up about my planned change in emphasis in the New Year. I have now been writing Reflections, week by week, for 1½ years and the project has been wonderfully productive, allowing me to understand Radical Decency, its intricacies, pitfalls, and potential in much greater depth. And the feedback I receive from my growing group of readers is extremely helpful. But after more than 60 Reflections, it feels like this time of intense, ongoing thinking and writing has reached a point of diminishing returns. Hence, the change in direction discussed below – and the request for help and support that follows.
Writing has, for me, always been less a vocation than a means to an end, with my greatest passion being reserved for more programmatic activities. My greatest ambition is not to theorize about a better way to live but to play an active role in implementing it. Toward that end, I have been meeting with a small group of people, for the past year, to plan a program for implementing Radical Decency in our lives and in the lives of people interested in joining us.
Our first substantive initiative is to create a website for our fledging “Radical Decency Community,” a place that can be a focus for more specific programmatic initiatives. We are currently designing the website and hope to have it up and running by the end of January. Its tentative tagline is “figuring Radical Decency out, day by day, choice by choice.” And, asking how we might create a better life and contribute to better world, our response is this:
We offer – not an answer – but a process: Of reflection, dialogue, support and collaboration, trial and error, guided always by Radical Decency, our values-based approach to living.
Here is the mission statement that our working group has crafted:
- To make Radical Decency the touchstone for our choices in every area of living;
- To make Radical Decency a strategic force for change by bringing its powerful, priority setting discipline to our day by day choices at work and in our politics;
- To support each other as we expand our Radical Decency practice, to invite others to join us, and to deepen our collaboration with those who share our goals.
At this point, our specific programmatic plans are at a very preliminary stage. However, among the things we are talking about are the following:
- Ongoing support groups that focus on implementing Radical Decency in our businesses (an initial group is already organized and operating).
- Online discussions that will allow participants to work together – and get ongoing support and encouragement – as they seek to more fully apply Radical Decency in every area of life;
- Radical Decency counseling offered via Skype or, when feasible, in person.
- Webinars and workshops that explore specific aspects of the philosophy (an initial workshop is in an early planning stage).
Radical Decency’s special contribution to the larger effort to create better lives and a better world is it comprehensive, integrated approach. It applies not just in politics but in our private lives as well – not just in our spiritual practice but also at work – not just in how we treat others but also in how we treat our selves.
Understanding this, we recognize that many other people are actively promoting Radical Decency’s values in their areas of special interest. For this reason, we are eager to include on the website a robust and well organized group of resources that people can draw on to support their Radical Decency practice. With so many potential allies in so many disparate areas of living, we hope the website will be a place where we can support each other in finding our way to these vitally important organizations and movements.
My Request of You
As you can see, our goals for the Radical Decency Community are intensely collaborative. In seeking to operationalize the philosophy, the devil is in the details: How do you apply its values in the myriad of specific, wisdom-stretching moments that are your fate – if you take the goal of decency seriously. This is not work that can be done alone or with a small group of people. With the predominant culture incessantly pulling us in the opposite direction, we need to puzzle these issues through together – with the insight and support of as many like-minded people as we can gather in.
That is where you come in. Would you consider being a participant in this budding Radical Decency Community? There is so much to do. I know from my own experience how valuable it would be for lawyers who are serious about “doing better” to have the support of an ongoing attorneys’ group to help with the nitty-gritty work of being more decent in their work. And the same is true in virtually every profession – from teachers and academics, to office workers, to car salesmen and widget manufacturers.
Similarly, think of the enormity of the task we have set for ourselves in creating a useful “Resources” section on the website. In an endlessly expansible group of subject-matter areas, we will be looking for the groups and individuals who are doing good work; determining how well they meet our Radical Decency criteria; and, then, describing and organizing their services in a usable and accessible way.
Do you know about current environmental initiatives? Or about the best groups leading the charge toward more decent choices in how to shop and invest? Or about healers who are offering strategies that go beyond adjusting to “what is” and actively support clients in creating more decent environments? If you have insight to offer in these and so many other areas, a willingness to help a lot – or a little – would be great.
More generally, we are hoping to make the website and its evolving programs an area of ongoing involvement for a diverse group of people who share a commitment to living differently and better. One of the important insights that has emerged from this period of intensive thinking and writing is that, without regard to what you believe or where you live and work, Radical Decency can be an active force for change in your life. The philosophy’s goal is not to tear down our existing businesses, religions, and communal structures but to infuse them with a comprehensive set of values that that can help to vitalize and revitalize them.
If you are a committed Christian – or Muslim – or Jew, the Radical Decency Community can be an invaluable venue in which to craft strategies that counteract the many, many subtle (and not so subtle) manifestations of the predominant culture’s obsession with “more” – money, members, and power; preoccupations that debase your chosen religion’s essential message. And, without regard to your political orientation, we hope you will see the Community as a place to better understand and more effectively meet the forces that, for the sake of power and money, so willingly twist and pervert what might otherwise be a useful contribution to our evolving notions of governance.
For most of us life’s central focus is on the very demanding task of working a job and raising a family. And living in a highly, competitive and endemically indecent culture, we are stretched to our limits, and beyond, in our efforts to get by and keep up. So our final hope is this: Understanding this reality, you will see the Radical Decency Community as a place where you can acquire tools for creating more decent relationships – with your self, your loved ones, at work, in the world at large. And, equally, you will see it as a place, where you can be part of an ongoing dialogue and support system that will allow you to employ these tools more effectively.
Given all of this, my request is for feedback.
1. Are you interested in the Community and website we are creating?
2. Which of the programmatic ideas described above interest you?
3. What other services/programs would you like to see the Community offer?
4. Would you be interested in being a part of the ongoing “how to be radically decent in your life” dialogue that we hope will be a staple of the website?
5. Would you be willing to contribute some of your time and energy to the Community and/or its website?
Your response to these issues would just be so helpful. And I am, of course, interested in any other thoughts, reactions, ideas, etc. you might have.
Creating such a Community is a really big undertaking and can only succeed if people who get Radical Decency and believe in its approach are willing to actively participate in its creation. That is why I am appealing to you, at this early stage, as a reader of the Reflections. Please think of your feedback as a first tentative step toward involvement in the project; a step that, if you are moved to do so, might lead to continuing participation in a way, and at a level, that makes sense to you,
The Future of the Reflections
I do not intent to shut down regular publication of the Reflections. I expect to write new Reflections, albeit on a less regular basis, and to republish earlier ones. Since the mailing list began with 29 names and now has over 1300 recipients, very few of you have read the early Reflections, and since I deal with structural issues, timeliness is not an issue.
Finally, I hope others will be moved to write Reflections. Knowing how many thoughtful readers I have – with insight into areas of living far beyond my experience – I would be delighted if, over time, the Reflections became a communal enterprise.