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Modeling Civil Discourse for the Common Good


Self-Awareness: In the midst of an interaction or conversation am I feeling defensive or uncomfortable? Can I slow down and notice if I am angry, fearful or uncomfortable before I respond? 

Seek to Understand: How can I learn more about this person’s life experience, circumstances, and values that frame his or her point of view? Can I listen deeply to another’s viewpoint that may be vastly different from my own? Can I imagine that I alone do not have the truth or see the entire picture without the perspectives of others?

Look for the Good: Being a Man or Woman for Other means looking for the inherent goodness in another person and even give them the benefit of the doubt regarding their viewpoint. Can I call to mind that each person has sacred worth and value? 

Nonviolent Response: Anytime we harm or devalue ourselves or others in our thoughts, words, or presence, this is a form of violence. While violence and force may be quicker, in the end they can fail to fundamentally resolve problems. When I respond to another, is my tone harsh, aggressive, and demeaning, or calm, patient, and loving?


How can we talk about difficult and painful topics without dehumanizing the “other"? How might we learn to deeply listen to another's viewpoint and seek to understand where they are coming from, instead of seeing them as a perceived enemy? The words of Abraham Lincoln offer consolation and a reminder to return to our shared humanity when he wrote, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” 

As an Ignatian community, we share standards of decency, communal respect, and mutual care for one another. We know that at the very heart of Catholic Social Teaching is the call to reverence each person’s human dignity. 

As we begin each school year may we become more mindful of examining the underlying dynamics in the classroom, setting up a strong and safe foundation. We know we make this commitment because of our shared Jesuit values of being “Open to Growth,” “Intellectually Competent,” “Religious,” “Loving,” and “Committed to Doing Justice.” We will continue to foster dialogical tools, because we know we are shaping leaders for the future, leaders who first seek to understand, refrain from dehumanizing language, and speak the truth with love.