Northern Virginia Ethical Society (NoVES)

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Change: Taking the First Step even when you don't see the Whole Staircase

Wednesday, May 02, 2018 11:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

I hesitated to start this blog post with the almost banal truism that NoVES is immersed in a social environment of change as never before. Yet there is no doubt all of us face unparalleled times. At national and local levels, we see leadership and elites being questioned as never before, wisely and unwisely. Rules and norms are being flouted at a rate which would probably stun the author of the phrase "defining deviancy down" Senator Pat Moynihan, the great politician-intellectual, who warned us about such dangers. On a positive note, women, youth, and minorities are finding voice in politics and leadership at an unprecedented rate.

As an Ethical Society, NoVES cannot look inward and ignore such changes. However, this does not necessarily mean we need to change in every way with the environment around us. There is no doubt we should resist the trend of lowering the bar on our ethical, moral, and legal standards. NoVES should instead model standards of conduct and governance which foster engagement and transparency to the maximum extent sought by our norms and permissible by our rules.

Nor should we remain complacent as to who we are becoming as a Society. As we seek to grow as a Society, we should seek, expect and welcome more millennials, women, and minorities to join our ranks and for them to assume positions of leadership in our community, including our various committees and the Board. We are blessed to find ourselves in a geographic situation where we share one of the most dynamic, diverse, and thoughtful loci of socio-economic change in the country, arguably even in the world. This should be a huge reservoir to draw upon as we seek not only growth in line with our values, but also greater collaboration and networking with others who are also committed to seeing more equitable, broad-based, and sustainable prosperity in our global society.

Finally, reasoned argumentation should always have a place of pride in our discourse. At NoVES, we have attempted in a modest way to respond to change by developing a new 2018-20 Vision which we have engaged at the Board, shared with our committees, and also with our Society. This is a living document which broadly frames key directions which we seek to pursue as we move forward in coming years towards becoming an even more vibrant focal point of humanist thought and action. As NoVES President, who has been proud to be part of these efforts, I hope more and more of our members will engage further in the Society and take advantage of numerous opportunities through which we can all contribute to our activities both within and outside our Society and which place us in line with the values we seek.

I know that some ask, and quite legitimately, details of how each and every aspect of our change will unfold. We should indeed plan and discuss such questions as much as we can. At the same time, change can only come about if we invite it as a mindset, but without abandoning our key values of treating all with dignity and respect.

Change is especially not easy when it seeks to change traditional ways of behaving and in conducting the affairs of any institution. Yet, compelling change cannot be avoided in turbulent times. If we stand on our principles, I think NoVES too can be guided by the wise words of Reverend Martin Luther King: "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

Best,

Jeffrey

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