The New Literacy in Citizenship


Daily in the face of local, national and international events reported in the media, thoughtful, sensitive and decent adults despair about our times—about the violence among youth; about the destruction of the natural environment and the extinction of species; about health care; about decent relationships among us.

Some of us believe that just talking about our frustration and even outrage is all that can be done. Others act by writing letters or by giving to a charity already engaged in good works. There are some who believe that by acting together in an innovative, creative, even inspirational way we can change at least a small part of the basic conditions that underlie the problem. And there are those who believe that there is a cumulative effect of these acts for good that will lead to a change in the very culture of citizenship itself. The Institute for Ethical Leadership embraces this belief.

The Vision

There is a new Literacy in Citizenship that calls those who believe in the core values of human relationships of respect, trustworthiness, honesty, decency, integrity, compassion to act together in service of enhancing the common good. The new understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship suggests that if we act together with both thoughtfulness and courage we could change the culture towards a better more decent and compassionate society where both we and the planet could thrive.

The Conference Is Not Enough

A usual method of acting together is to create an event, called a Conference or Congress, or a forum where experts speak and the participants are audiences. However, regardless of how outstanding the speeches, the conference is often followed by dispersion of the participants to their respective places without much further outcome taking place. While this is useful to a point, a cost-benefit analysis would show little actual outcome or change for the expenditure of time, energy and resources.

To achieve a vision where citizens act together in service of the common good in an enthusiastic and inspiring process, we must go beyond meeting to talk. We need to design meaningful action steps into the process as integral to our meetings.

Connections III will be such an event

At each mini-conference held in 2004 the partners gathered around projects that underlie a fundamental change for good. In building on this Connections III will require “big thinking.” The actions and process will be solution-oriented and in the spirit of prevention. They will be lighthouses and models for others to follow.

The Partners in Action will be those who can and want to make a difference, especially those who want to work with others of like mind.

If you are excited about acting with others to make a real and meaningful difference, plan to join the Institute for Ethical Leadership as we create Connections III. Become part of the team. Become a Partner in Action.