In Our Lives

To our self; family and friends, co-workers, all other people whose lives we touch, the environment.

Understanding It

Radical Decency is a subtle and demanding practice, made all the more challenging demanding by these facts:

  • We are neurologically wired to be creatures of habit. The more we rehearse a set of behaviors, the more likely we are to repeat them.
  • We do not come to a decency practice with a blank slate.
  • We are immersed in a culture that – with its emphasis on competing and winning, domination and control – steadily indoctrinates us into habits of living are its antithesis.

For these reasons, pick and chose decency will never work. If we “do what we have to do, out there, in the real world,” the culture’s indecent habits will inexorably infiltrate and debase the small islands of decency we seek to create. What is called for instead? To systematically wean ourselves from the culture’s mainstream values, replacing them with a new, more decent set of values – respect, understanding and empathy; acceptance and appreciation; equity, justice and love.

To emerge as our new habit of living, Radical Decency requires vigilance and heightened awareness in every moment and every interaction including, importantly, in the ways in which we treat the cacophony of voices inside our head. Given this reality, its application in our private lives is the philosophy’s vital pulse; the day by day discipline that transforms it from a nice idea into a life changing reality.

Doing so, new, more creative possibilities will emerge in every area of living, from the most private and personal to the most public and political. Failing to do so – making an exception here, a compromise there – we all too easily recede to the mainstream culture’s ever beckoning mainstream norms.

Decency in our private lives is a confusing, “wisdom stretching” discipline, riddled with uncomfortable choices and compromises. For a fuller description of this aspect of Radical Decency, see the following:

Decency to Self
Reflection 13: Radical Decency is its Own Reward
Reflection 41: Safety and Aliveness
Reflection 59: Happiness
Reflection 28: An Aspirational Approach to Living

Decency in our Intimate Relationships
Reflection 33: Couples Work – What It Is, Why It’s Important
Reflection 38: Three Dimensions of Love
Reflection 3: Why Can’t You Do the Dishes?
Reflection 10: Romantic Love – Making What’s Good Better
Reflection 53: Effective Fighting – Practice Pointers for Couples

Decency in more casual relationships
Reflection 44: Intimate vs. Strategic Relationships
Reflection 35: Salaried Workers – Limitations and Possibilities

Decency to the world
Reflection 12: Radical Decency in Politics – Pitfalls and Possibilities
Reflection 15: Transforming Business – Values-Based Social Justice
Reflection 23: Radical Decency in Business – The Nitty-Gritty
Reflection 45: Re-visioning Social Change Work

Living It

Seeking to be radically decent, the devil – always – is in the detail; the day by day, moment by moment choices that define our lives. It is an aspirational journey and not a destination.


To support your Radical Decency work — and to support others — we encourage you to participate in our ongoing Radical Decency conversation.


Here are some stories about how this journey has unfolded for others: Ways in which they have come through; lessons learned when they have fallen short. Sharing a story from your experience supports your work and the work of others.  Email us if you are interested.

(I1) Decency to the World: Walking the Walk, A Story From Candy Kean, An Inner City 3rd Grade Teacher

Thank you for sending me Reflection 8: Why We Aren’t Good Students, Why It Matters. It lays s out some profound issues. I want to address just a few of them and while you may already know and understand, I want to be able to tell you from my…

Read The Full Story Here »
(I2) Money and Family: To Give or Not To Give, The Struggles of A Loving Sister

Knowing that bad things happen to good people, I have always had a soft spot for have-nots. Indeed, I can’t even walk down a city street without giving everything in my pocket away. I am a caring, giving, and generous person – or so I have always told myself.


Read The Full Story Here »
(I3) A Wisdom-Stretching Dilemma, A Story from Marcy Szyablya, Business Woman and Community Leader

For me, there’s never enough money, time or chocolate – which leads to a constant struggle to balance my priorities and control my cocoa habit. Here’s my recent dilemma:

I am committed to a year with a non-profit group as one of three volunteer leaders. A big part of this…

Read The Full Story Here »