Spiritual and Moral Vision
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IV. Our Proposed Spiritual and Moral Vision:
Perspectives on Personal Growth, Social Ethics, and Ecological Integrity


Vision for Individual Growth 
Social Ethics
Ecological Integrity



In our 'Spiritual and Moral Vision' we present basic strategies and principles that promote the moral and spiritual development of individuals and groups.  In the first section, we discuss foundational insights on which these strategies and principles are based.  In the second section, we describe the most basic foundational principles that shape our moral and spiritual values.  In the sections that follow, we focus more specifically on norms and activities for promoting personal moral and spiritual development, norms for advancing social progress, and principles for maintaining healthy cycles of renewal in ecosystems and in the biosphere as a whole.


A.  The Foundations of Our Spiritual and Moral Vision


1.  Basic Theological and Anthropological Foundations
This vision is founded on our experience of God as continually present to us, helping us to realize our full potential as individuals, as participants in society, and as stewards of the natural world.  It also affirms that all human beings desire some form of happiness and attempt to achieve it in all of their roles, relationships, and life projects. We propose that the most profound and enduring form of happiness or fulfillment is a combination of 1) the development of all dimensions of our personality and 2) the use of our gifts and capabilities to build relationships with God and with others and to serve them in whatever ways we can.

The activities and principles described in this section will help individuals and groups to respond to God's providential guidance and to their own deepest desires.

2.  Relational and Developmental Insights
Our 'Spiritual and Moral Vision' is firmly grounded in our dynamic systems world view.  Practically all of the principles that we explore have to do with relationships -- relationships between individuals, between individuals and social groups, between social groups, and between human societies and the rest of the natural world.

We also affirm that this vision of personal growth, social progress, and ecological stewardship involves developmental challenges on all levels. On the individual level, the developmental theory of Brian P. Hall describes how character and holiness are cultivated within an arduous but rewarding process of personal growth. Hall shows how moral and spiritual wisdom require the development of key structures and capabilities of the human psyche as well as favorable conditions in one’s social environment. Our basic physical needs for food, clothing, and shelter must be met.  We must develop social skills, a sense of belonging, and self-esteem in our primary social groups. We need to cultivate the knowledge and skills necessary for education, meaningful employment, and other life projects. We must also develop a sense of personal identity, purpose, and vocation for our lives. Only when all of these psychological needs are being addressed can we act in a consistently wise and virtuous way -- with empathy, self-discipline, fortitude, and generosity of spirit. Only when we are able to develop all of our personal and social capabilities can we become effective and available instruments of grace. 

Our view of the different dimensions of the human person contribute to this holistic vision of personal growth – growth that integrates the physical, economic, political, moral, spiritual, intellectual, cultural, and artistic aspects of our personality and lifestyle.  Each dimension provides an opportunity to serve God by developing and sharing one's gifts with others.

We do not expect the moral principles and spiritual practices described below to provide all of the guidance, resources, and opportunities that are necessary for holistic personal growth.  Individuals may develop themselves through a great variety of roles, relationships, projects, and activities.  Toward this end, they should be able to exercise a broad spectrum of basic human rights.  These rights are discussed in the 'Method for Political Analysis' that is part of our Public Ministry.  

Yet even though our vision for moral and spiritual formation is not a comprehensive program for personal development, it cultivates the core views and values that individuals may express in all aspects of their lifestyles -- in all of the forms of engagement mentioned above.  As they integrate the various dimensions of their lives into their spiritual journey, individuals may be better able to embrace and participate in God's designs for promoting the welfare of individuals, society, and the natural world.

On the social and ecological levels, the establishment of a just and sustainable society is also a challenging and ongoing process.  From generation to generation, this process requires the vigilant cultivation of the values, laws, and institutions that serve as the pillars of progressive societies.  In the sections below we provide principles and guidelines that will help citizens to structure their societies in ways respond to this challenge with wisdom and conviction.  These principles are explored in more depth in our 'Method for Political Analysis'.

3.  Foundational Principles of Our Spiritual and Moral Vision

a. Helping Others to Become More Psychologically and Spiritually Mature: The "Golden Rule" of Our Interpersonal Ethic

The Judeo-Christian tradition holds up one imperative that summarizes all of the principles of ethical and righteous living: in all circumstances we are called to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Deut. 6:5, Lev 19:18; Matt 22:37-40). We wholeheartedly support this "Great Commandment," but we do believe that, because the word "love" is used in so many senses today, it is necessary to be more specific about what "love" really means.

In his book The Road Less Traveled (Simon & Schuster, 1978), M. Scott Peck claims that love is not simply an emotional or physical attraction to another person.  Rather, it is "the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth" (p. 81). Furthermore, consistent with our focus on a dimensional view of the human person, we propose that spiritual growth should be understood as "holistic growth" that encompasses all aspects of the human person.  Loving action thus serves all dimensions of the human personality.

We thus understand love as the desire to extend oneself for the holistic development of oneself and others. We believe that this more concrete and tangible notion of love -- love that promotes the development of the whole person -- expresses true concern for the welfare of oneself and of others. We therefore adopt it as a cornerstone of our ethical outlook.

b. The Social Dimension of this "Golden Rule"

Our 'systems' view of reality requires that we also explore the implications of this 'Golden Rule' on the social level of organization.  While personal commitment, self-discipline, and initiative are all necessary for personal growth, we place great emphasis on the importance of social support in the drama of human development. From birth to death, we depend on social institutions and structures to provide us with the opportunities and resources for developing ourselves and forming intimate, constructive, and enjoyable relationships.

Families must provide a safe, nurturing, and disciplined environment for children; spouses must provide each other with mutual support and good example as they care for children, each other, and their communities. Schools must equip students with social and vocational skills as well as provide them with implicit and explicit moral formation and positive role models. Business firms must work to promote the well-being of employees, customers, and their surrounding communities. Churches must provide supportive and challenging communities in which persons can explore their relationships with God and others as they embark on their spiritual quests. They should also help individuals to express their faith and values in all of their social roles and relationships, thus deepening the ways in which they participate in economic, political, cultural, and civic institutions.

Because of the central role that institutions play in the development of individuals, one of our first moral principles is that institutions must somehow address the needs of all of those whose lives are touched by their projects and policies. A constant vigilance is required in order to create, maintain, and reform institutions so that they enhance personal development. This vigilance is the social dimension of the imperative to love one another.

c. Ecological Foundations: An Extension of the Golden Rule beyond the Human Community

Also, as discussed in our views on Ecology, we propose that our moral and spiritual growth takes place in an even broader ecological context that includes individuals, societies, and the communities of living things of which we are a part. This spiritual and moral vision is thus also an ecological vision that values ecosystems for all of the benefits that they bestow on us and for their own beauty and complexity.

We thus propose a second part of our "Golden Rule" that calls us to act with responsibility and care toward all living things and to exercise wise and far-sighted stewardship over the natural resources that sustain ecosystems around the globe.

In the following sections, we will propose specific values, virtues, and activities that may help individuals to embrace the personal, social, and ecological dimensions of this Golden Rule.  We will discuss how persons may help themselves and others to navigate along the journey of personal growth. We will also propose key values and principles that suggest how society may be ordered so that the common good of all persons is enhanced.  Finally, we will offer perspectives and principles that promote the well-being of species, ecosystems, and the biosphere as a whole.


B.  Proposed Moral and Spiritual Vision for Individuals

1. Spiritual and Moral Disciplines: Regular Practices that Promote Spiritual and Moral Development

a. Eight Types of Spiritual Disciplines

The backbone of our vision for the spiritual formation of individuals is a framework of eight types of spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines may be broadly defined as regular practices that are designed to promote spiritual development.  The eight types include contemplation, service, theological reflection or study, faith-sharing groups, spiritual mentoring, ritual, witness, and disciplines of the body. These types of activities are observed in practically all major monotheistic religions. While the emphasis on each may vary in different faith traditions, they may be considered cross-cultural practices that are recognized and honored in diverse societies.  The following are definitions and examples for each type of discipline.   


Contemplation  


Contemplation includes activities in which one quietly focuses on one's thoughts, feelings, desires, and values, especially as they relate to God and one's relationship with God.  These activities facilitate relaxation, introspection, personal insight, and a deep awareness of God’s presence and guidance in one’s life. Examples include meditation, centering prayer, journaling, and reflecting upon spiritual symbols or works of art.


Theological Reflection or Study


Theological reflection or study is the quest for a systematic understanding of God, human nature, human societies, the natural world, and the universe as a whole. This discipline should enable one to create a coherent 'map of reality' in light of one’s religious beliefs.  It includes any activity involving focused learning that is relevant to one's spiritual views and values.  For example, one may discuss a classic theological text in one's faith community or explore psychological theories.


Service


Service includes activities that promote the development and well-being of persons and other living things. These activities may be divided into two types: personal service and structural service. Personal service provides immediate, face-to-face assistance and comfort to those in need. An example would be providing medical care or simple companionship to the sick or elderly. Another would be helping to restore lost habitat for some plant or animal species.  Structural service is the process of changing social institutions so that their values, programs, and policies have the best possible impact on the well-being of humans and the environment.  Structural service is often practiced in the realm of political life.   Examples of political activities include grass-roots political organizing and peaceful public demonstrations that advocate social change.  This type of service may also be performed in other types of institutions.  One may, for example, strive to change the values of one's family or a civic organization to which one belongs.


Spiritual Mentoring  


Spiritual mentoring is the process of giving spiritual guidance and direction to those who may benefit from one’s wisdom and experience.  It is provided by members of a faith community who are recognized as spiritually mature persons.  Examples of mentoring activities include structured discussions that one may have with a spiritual guide as well as religious education programs for new members of a faith community.


Faith-Sharing Groups  


Faith-sharing groups build 'spiritual friendships' among peers.  In these small groups, usually no larger than eight individuals, participants may reflect on some significant spiritual text or theme.  They may then discuss the relevance of this theme or text for their lives.  In a more open format, they may simply share the everyday challenges of living according to the spiritual values and views that they espouse.


Rituals  


Rituals are activities that summarize and express significant meanings in one’s life and in the life of one’s community.  Through the interplay of symbols, sacred texts, presentations, and song, these activities may highlight key turning points in the biographies and histories of individuals and groups.  They may also affirm the core values and identities of persons and the communities of which they belong.

Rituals can serve as powerful integrating events as they clarify and weave together meanings communicated in the practice of the other types of disciplines. 
The common recitation of oaths and creeds may formalize and celebrate the intimate bonds that are formed in faith-sharing groups.  Songs may extol the generous spirit of personal service.  Key symbols may summarize insights gained in theological study.  

T
he atmosphere of rituals, whether solemn and serious or lively and enthusiastic, may add to the expressive power of ritual elements.  Examples of rituals include rites of passage and initiation such as the rites of bat or bar mitzvah, baptism, marriage, and burial.  Other rituals include worship services such as the Christian liturgy and Jewish Sabbath services.
 

Witness


The discipline of witness involves giving an account of one's entire spiritual journey.  It calls one to construct a narrative of the experiences that have most dramatically shaped one's spiritual views and values.  It is important to note that the emphasis in this discipline is less on one's specific views and more on the experiences that have led one to form these views.

Witness is an especially powerful discipline because it calls one to review and reflect upon one's entire life history as one tries to identify important turning points in one's spiritual growth.  This self-exploration should help one to gain a clearer sense of 'where one is' in one's spiritual quest as well as how one has gotten there.  Even if one discovers that one is somewhat unclear or uncertain about one’s spiritual experiences and views, this discipline will help one to acknowledge this fact and explore its implications for one's ongoing spiritual development.

This discipline also calls one to listen to the spiritual journeys of others.  Sharing spiritual journeys is essential for building intimate relationships among community members.  It can also be very insightful and inspiring as one learns of the many ways in which God works in the lives of others in order to lead them to greater spiritual awareness.  In addition, one may read accounts of spiritual journeys that have been written by significant figures from a variety of faith traditions.

Witness is distinct from the discipline of faith-sharing, though the two are similar.  Whereas faith-sharing groups focus on members' day-to-day experiences, one's witness often encompasses one's entire life story.  Also, while faith-sharing is usually done with other members of one's faith community, one may witness to persons outside of one's community.  For example, one may witness in a dialogue with members of other faith traditions.  One may also bear witness to curious nonmembers who are interested in one's spiritual views and values.


Disciplines of the Body


Disciplines of the body include practices in which one regulates one’s bodily processes in order to enhance one's spiritual growth.  Fasting, for example, requires that individuals abstain from ordinary eating habits in order to enhance their spiritual awareness and intensity.  

Disciplines of the body have traditionally been practiced in order to encourage individuals to slow down and reflect more deeply on their relationship to God.  In this respect, many disciplines of the body are also contemplative practices.  Relaxation techniques, controlled breathing, biofeedback, and therapeutic massage are all disciplines of the body that help one to cultivate a greater sense of calm and inner focus.

More recently, many persons have found that fitness activities provide ideal opportunities for relaxing and energizing reflection.  Many also claim that regular exercise gives them a sense of vigor, confidence, and generosity of spirit that enables them to participate more fully in all of the disciplines.

Disciplines of the body are often practiced in preparation for engaging in other disciplines.  For example, one may fast in order to prepare for an important ritual or for a discussion with one's spiritual mentor. 
For further discussion of relationships between the disciplines in one’s spiritual practice, see the section below on 'Complementary Relationships between the Different Types of Spiritual Disciplines.'



As mentioned above, the different types of disciplines are not mutually exclusive; some activities may represent more than one type of discipline.  Relaxation techniques, for example, are both disciplines of the body and contemplative practices.  The various types may also be integrated into one another -- an act of witness may, for example, be part of a ritual.  Or they may be combined with each other in more elaborate ministry programs.  A weekend retreat may include faith-sharing, theological reflection, rituals, and spiritual guidance.  A more detailed discussion of the integration of the disciplines into specific ministry activities is provided in the section on our ministry strategy and programs.


As stated in our mission, this framework of disciplines is not a rigid formula for spiritual growth.  Nor is it a set of activities to check off as one moves through the various stages of spiritual growth. And it certainly should not be viewed as a set of onerous obligations.  Rather, the framework is an invitation to a richer, more engaging, and, in a very real sense, a more exciting and adventurous spiritual life.  As we explain in the following section, the disciplines introduce us to many different types of spiritual experiences and many different contexts for encountering the sacred.  In doing so, they help us to discover, with awe and gratitude, the manifold ways in which God may work within one’s life and in the wider world.

It is also important to accept the fact that one can never practice all of the different types of disciplines as much as one would like.  However, rather than wringing one's hands about what one is not able to do, one should simply do what one can.  One should give the disciplines a "good faith effort" and let them draw one into a more active and engaging spiritual quest.

As we practice them together, these activities create a common set of experiences that we may draw upon as we share the ways in which we perceive God’s presence in our lives. In this way, spiritual disciplines create and reinforce the bonds of community (more on this below as well). They also provide our members with opportunities to care for the natural world and serve the wider society in which we live. They therefore transform our hearts and minds so that we may work to establish a more intimate faith community and more just and sustainable societies.

In the next section we will discuss a variety of ways in which the disciplines promote spiritual development.  We will then describe complementary relationships between the different types of disciplines in a rhythm of spiritual formation that integrates all of the different types into one's spiritual practice.  In this section we will describe how our 'process' view may be helpful for understanding one's day-to-day spiritual practice just as it frames our perspectives on personal growth, social change, and ecological renewal.  Finally, we will offer guidelines that may help individuals and groups to adapt a rhythm of spiritual formation to their unique characteristics and interests. 

You may link to each of these sections now or return to them after you have gained an overview of the entire moral and spiritual vision.

b. How the Disciplines Promote Spiritual Growth

c. Complementary Relationships between Different Types of Spiritual
Disciplines: Cultivating Momentum and Motivation in the Spiritual 
Formation of Persons and Groups

d. Two Principles for Creating Balanced Rhythms of Spiritual Formation


e. Eight Types of Moral Disciplines

If one is not particularly interested in spiritual activities, or wishes to focus solely on their moral formation, we recommend a framework of eight types of moral disciplines. These are simply the spiritual disciplines without their explicitly religious content. In all of the major world religions, spiritual disciplines form believers both morally and spiritually. We thus propose that spiritual disciplines can be stripped of their spiritual content and yet still transform the values and priorities of those who practice them. Below is a brief description of how we have translated our framework of spiritual disciplines into moral disciplines. The types of moral disciplines include contemplation, intellectual formation, service, ritual, moral witness, peer counseling, moral mentoring, and disciplines of the body.

Like spiritual disciplines, moral disciplines can be practiced in a rhythm of moral formation that develops the personal and social skills needed for keen moral discernment and decisive action based on one’s deepest values and convictions. These activities can also be adapted to the special developmental needs and cultural contexts of different organizations and individuals. Since they are derived from spiritual disciplines that are practiced by a wide variety of cultures, they should be useful and effective in practically all cultural contexts.

1) Translating Spiritual Disciplines into Moral Disciplines

Disciplines of the body may be translated into practices that promote moral development by means of the regulation of one’s bodily processes.

In the context of moral development, rituals are activities that express, through symbols, symbolic actions, presentations, songs, oaths, and awards, the full scope of the values and behaviors expected of morally mature persons.  Especially significant are rites of passage and initiation that mark transitions into new stages of life and new social roles, with new opportunities and responsibilities for moral action.  Such a rite of initiation might include a ceremony that marks the first exercise of one's right to vote, a key opportunity and responsibility of all citizens.  Other rituals might include regular events that affirm our responsibilities as stewards of the common good, such as planting trees on public lands; or annual rituals recognizing outstanding public service within business firms or civic organizations. 

Contemplative practices more broadly include activities that promote moral growth through greater awareness of one’s everyday emotions, desires, and values — the basic dynamics of one’s inner psychic processes. In the context of moral formation, these practices may include centering meditation, journaling, and inspirational reading.

Theological reflection has become intellectual formation and includes activities that teach a basic understanding of character and wisdom within different moral traditions. These activities should clarify how different traditions view character and wisdom as necessary for personal fulfillment and social progress. Examples of specific activities here include systematic instruction in ethics in schools, churches, or business firms. Such instruction could use all of these moral disciplines in order to teach participants how different moral traditions understand these core moral concepts.

Faith sharing and mentoring can be translated into peer counseling and mentoring, which serve the same functions of social reinforcement, personal guidance, and role modeling. In peer counseling groups, peers can share their experiences of struggling to live up to the values and principles that they espouse.

In mentoring activities, respected figures such as scout troop leaders or teachers can provide guidance in the process of developing moral character and wisdom. Mentors may serve as role models for those who look up to them for moral inspiration and direction. In addition to scouting, Big Sister and Big Brother programs are excellent examples of this type of moral discipline.

Service still includes activities that promote the integral development of other persons and/or ecosystems. These activities may be divided into two types: personal service and structural service. Personal service provides immediate, face-to-face assistance and comfort to those in need. An example would be providing medical care or simple companionship to the sick or elderly. Structural service is the process of working to change social institutions so that they may better enhance the development of all those whose welfare they protect and promote. Examples include political education, grass-roots political organizing, and lobbying.

Like spiritual witness, moral witness involves sharing one’s moral values and convictions in the public square – in political, civic, cultural, and economic organizations in which one participates. It involves the explicit and consistent promotion of personal and public values that one deems essential to individual welfare and the prosperity of society as a whole. Simply acting on one’s values and convictions in everyday public life is perhaps the most effective form of this type of witness.

In the following sections we discuss: 1) how moral disciplines help us to respond to challenging ethical situations with wisdom and creativity; 2) how we can integrate moral perspectives into all of our roles and relationships, 3) the relationships between types of moral disciplines in a rhythm of moral practices, and 4) how we can adapt this rhythm of practices to the special characteristics and needs of different individuals and groups.

You may link to each of these sections now or return to them after you have gained an overview of the entire moral and spiritual vision.

f. Moral Disciplines, Virtues, and Norms in the Broader Arc of Moral Development

g. How Moral Disciplines Help One to Integrate Moral Perspectives into
One's Roles, Relationships, Life Projects, and Strategies for Moral Decision Making

h. Discerning Relationships between Different Types of Moral Disciplines

i. Complementary Relationships between Different Types of Moral
Disciplines: Cultivating a Rhythm of Moral Formation


j.  Two Principles for Creating Balanced Rhythms of Moral Formation


C. The Social Dimensions of the Spiritual and Moral Vision of The Eos Network

For each dimension of social life discussed in our view of society – institutions, social sectors, socio-cultural affiliations, and levels of social organization -- there is a set of values and principles that promote constructive social dynamics.  These dynamics encourage balanced social progress toward a just and sustainable society.  We refer to this ideal society as 'the common good'.  The various sets of values and principles are described below.

1. Ethical Issues for Institutions

In the section on "The Human Person," (III.C) we affirmed that individuals should work hard to cultivate the discipline, responsibility, initiative, social skills, and vocational capabilities that they need in order to develop their full potential. However, we also emphasized that without healthy social institutions, individuals are deprived of the collective resources, role models, and cumulative wisdom that are essential to their psychological, spiritual, and moral development. In this section we propose values and principles that may help institutions to provide this developmental support to individuals and groups that are affected by their programs and policies. We also suggest that organizations can promote the moral and spiritual growth of members and constituents by sponsoring activities related to the different types of moral and spiritual disciplines.

a. General Institutional Norms

The Priority of the Common Good: The Golden Rule for Institutions

From the family to transnational corporations, the most basic norm for institutions is the principle of the priority of the common good. That is, the values, programs, and policies of institutions must somehow enhance the well-being of all persons, groups, and ecosystems that are in any way affected by them.  Institutions may not pursue their missions in ways that harm any of these entities unless they seek some greater benefit for the common good in the long term.

Commitment to Excellence

One important way in which institutions promote their own interests as well as the common good is by striving for excellence in the skills and capabilities that are central to their missions.  For example, business firms should ensure that their employees are well-trained in the skills necessary for carrying out their specific functions within the organization.  This consistent focus on high standards demands determined leadership, organizational discipline, and an openness to new perspectives and ideas. These three virtues are central values in the cultures of successful institutions, no matter what their size or mission.

Personal and Organizational Relationships

Institutions should promote constructive relationships among their members.  To achieve this goal, groups should encourage competence in the basic skills necessary for forming healthy human relationships, including a capacity for empathy, communication skills, and the ability to cooperate as a team toward desired goals.  In addition, institutions should clearly articulate the values and norms that should be respected by their members as they relate to each other.  Furthermore, groups should cultivate positive relationships with other organizations.

Inclusiveness in Membership, Decision-Making, and Mission

Institutions may respect the principle of inclusiveness in three ways.  Regarding membership, institutions should welcome all interested persons, regardless of their class, race, gender, creed, age, ethnicity, or sexual preference.  We will concede that some groups may legitimately limit their membership if these limits are essential to their mission.  For example, some organizations may focus on the special needs of members of historically oppressed groups.  They would thus limit their membership to these individuals.  But for the vast majority of institutions, particularly economic and political institutions, the norm of inclusive membership should be strictly respected.  Furthermore, institutions may have to make a special effort to ensure that individuals from disadvantaged or historically oppressed groups feel welcome to join them.

Institutions should also be inclusive in their decision-making processes.  They should allow all stakeholders -- that is, all who are affected by a decision -- to play some meaningful role in the decision-making process.

Regarding their mission, institutions should honor the principle of inclusiveness by reaching out to all persons without discriminating on the basis of the characteristics described above.  They should allow all persons to have access to the opportunities for personal development that they offer through their programs and activities. Once again, we acknowledge that some institutions may focus their missions on the special needs of particular groups.  However, the vast majority of organizations should sponsor programs that are inclusive in all respects.  The ability and willingness of institutions to sponsor inclusive programs must be closely and constantly evaluated.  Furthermore, we believe that institutions may have to take extraordinary measures to ensure that all individuals have an opportunity to benefit from their programs.  For example, an institution that sponsors a job training program should make a special effort to recruit participants from lower economic classes and from historically oppressed groups.

Accountability

Institutions may be held accountable to the common good in a variety of ways.  First, they should espouse a set of values or code of ethics that specifically describes how the organization will pursue its mission in ways that promote the common good.  This code should include guidelines for institutional policies and programs and for the behavior of individual members.  In addition, institutions should have clear policies and procedures for holding members accountable to the ethical principles that the institution espouses.  As discussed above, groups should also adopt inclusive decision-making processes.  When all stakeholders have input into important decisions, they may hold institutions accountable to their interests and to the common good.  In addition, groups must permit members and outside parties to monitor and assess their values, policies, programs, and decision-making processes in order to ensure that they promote the common good.  Even families should accept outside monitoring, assessment, and help when such measures are needed in order to protect and promote the welfare of family members.  This openness to examination and assessment is termed transparency.  It is an essential part of any strategy for holding institutions accountable to the common good.

We will allow that some information may be kept from public view in order to respect the privacy of individuals and the intellectual property (such as patents) of businesses.  Some medical records, for example, may be considered private and confidential, and businesses may not wish to share their strategic plans and proprietary information (such as the 'secret recipes' for soft drinks!).  Without some very compelling reason, however, institutions should be willing to allow monitoring groups or the general public to review their proceedings.

b. Cultivating the Moral and Spiritual Dimensions of the Mission of Institutions by Practicing the Disciplines

The various types of spiritual and moral disciplines provide systematic and concrete ways in which secular and faith-based institutions can contribute to the spiritual and moral foundations of society. Institutions can thus do much more than simply uphold the law or a code of professional ethics. They can form their members, clients, and constituents morally and spiritually, as is appropriate to their nature and mission.

The Practice of Spiritual Disciplines in Faith-Based Institutions

Faith-based organizations such as schools, churches, and church-affiliated service organizations may sponsor a variety of different types of spiritual activities. These activities may focus on one type of spiritual discipline or integrate several types into a more complex format. In order to adapt activities to the specific characteristics of their members, groups may follow the guidelines discussed in the section above on "Two Principles for Creating Balanced Rhythms of Spiritual Formation."

The Practice of Moral Disciplines in Secular or Faith-Based Groups

While it may not be appropriate for secular institutions to sponsor spiritual activities, these groups (as well as faith-based groups) can still provide opportunities for members to clarify and carry out the moral dimensions of the organization’s mission. As with spiritual activities, these programs may focus on one type of moral discipline or integrate several types. In order to adapt programs to the specific characteristics of their members, groups may follow the guidelines discussed in the section above on "Two Principles for Creating Balanced Rhythms of Moral Formation."

We urge leaders of business firms, government bodies, and voluntary groups of all sorts to plan such opportunities for discussions and projects related to the moral dimensions of their organizations’ missions. These activities may provide all members with a chance to learn how the organization can promote the holistic development of individuals, the common good of society as a whole, and the health and integrity of ecosystems. Leaders should also provide opportunities for individuals to develop the skills and capabilities for making wise and compassionate moral decisions.

Moral Disciplines and Moral Education

The various types of moral disciplines can also be used as a framework for moral education in both public and private schools. As discussed in the previous section, moral disciplines provide a rhythm of engaging programs that may be adapted to all grade levels and learning styles.

2. Ethical Relationships between Different Levels of Social Organization

In our view of society, we described how society may be divided into different levels of social organization. We also proposed that the well-being of lower levels of social organization often depends on effective policies at higher levels. It is thus imperative that institutions on higher levels of social organization foster social conditions in which individuals and institutions on lower levels can enjoy opportunities for development and prosperity. However, according to the principle of subsidiarity, it is important that higher levels of institutions, like national governments, refrain from assuming responsibilities and functions that would be better assumed by lower levels of organization such as state and local governments. This principle encourages local groups and individuals to take responsibility for promoting their own development and the progress of society as a whole. Larger institutions may and often must lend them some assistance in this process, but this help should be given in such a way as to empower lower level groups to fully participate in all dimensions of social life.

This principle of subsidiarity applies to all types of institutions, whether they be political, economic, religious, or cultural. Whenever possible, institutions large and small should spread responsibility among as many individuals as possible, encouraging them to participate in all sorts of social projects from government to business ventures to educational institutions. We propose that the citizens who enjoy the most liberty are those who are engaged in many social projects, since through these projects they determine their destiny and build up society as a whole.

3. Ethical Relationships within and between Social Sectors

Relationships within Sectors

The Market
Relationships within each sector are ethical in so far as they maximize the ability of each institution to contribute to the common good. In the market sector, it is thus an ethical priority to encourage competition between firms in so far as this encourages them to continually improve the quality and overall value of their products. It is also prudent to encourage cooperation between firms when this is necessary for the achievement of important social goals such as the development of environmentally sound technologies. As will be discussed below, cooperation and competition in the market must be regulated by the other sectors in order to make it feasible for firms to engage in ethical business practices.

The State
All policies and constitutions governing relationships within governments must carefully preserve systems of checks and balances that prevent the abuse of power by any one branch of government or any one agency. Public policies must also maintain the structures of accountability whereby public officials are held responsible to the citizens whom they serve. Toward this end, non-elected officials must always be held accountable in some way by elected officials who represent the citizen electorate.

Political systems must also ensure that elected officials do not use their incumbency to prevent others from challenging them for their offices. This task requires careful regulation of campaign and election policies and procedures. 

Cooperative relationships between government bodies are also essential to the common good, since few social problems can be solved with the knowledge and resources of only one branch of government or government agency.

Civil Society
Careful systems of checks and balances are less essential to the proper functioning of civil society. It is beneficial to have many organizations competing for members, since this tends to improve the quality of programs. However, it is prudent for these organizations to remember that they should cooperate among themselves whenever possible in order to make the most of their often limited resources. Many groups may have the same interests and missions, yet competition between them may blind them to the advantages that they may enjoy through cooperation on projects that none of them could accomplish alone. Thus, while they may compete for members or students, groups in civil society must also create alliances to more effectively promote their educational, cultural, or spiritual missions.

In summary, in order to maintain ethical relationships within sectors, citizens must demand policies that promote the right types of cooperative and competitive relationships among the institutions that comprise them.

Relationships between Sectors

It is also imperative to maintain the right combination of cooperative and competitive or adversarial relationships between social sectors.

Constructive Adversarial Relationships between Sectors
The Eos Network encourages a broad diversity of institutions in all three sectors in order that many diverse human needs and interests may be recognized and addressed. We propose that the ultimate goal of each sector and of all of the institutions within them is to promote the welfare of all members of society. However, in order to facilitate this process, each sector must work to hold the others accountable for playing their role in the pursuit of social progress. A system of checks and balances between sectors is thus necessary in order to ensure that each sector contributes to the common good of society.

For example, governments must regulate markets in order to ensure that business firms conduct their operations in a manner that promotes the common good.  In turn, business firms should prevent the state from taking on economic ventures that would be more effectively and efficiently pursued by the market sector.  Organizations in civil society must hold both the market and the state accountable to the common good, and the state must regulate organizations in civil society in order to ensure that they raise funds and pursue their missions in an ethical manner.  In a historically famous example of checks and balances between sectors, most democratic governments now insist that religious groups and the state remain separate so that religious groups are unable to use political leverage to impose their beliefs and values on citizens against their will.

As 'hybrid' organizations, media groups such as television networks and newspaper publishers engage in a more complex set of checks and balances with all three sectors.  Media groups often serve as 'moral watchdogs' in civil society as they expose unethical practices of businesses and governments. However, as business firms in the market sector, media sources may produce information that is somehow influenced by their commercial interests.   For example, an editor might hesitate before publishing an article that is critical of the firm that owns his or her newspaper.  In general, when the commercial and educational aspects of the mission of media groups are in conflict, the information that they communicate to the public may be biased and thus harmful to the common good.  Groups in civil society should thus critically monitor media information for signs of 'economic bias.'  The state must ensure that no one media corporation gains too much economic power and too much control over public discourse.  Groups in all sectors must ensure that the public understands how the political views of media owners may influence the ways in which their organizations report the news.  If a media group is state-sponsored, civil society and businesses must ensure that it uses its power to communicate with the general public in a clear and honest way. 

Constructive Cooperative Relationships between Sectors
As mentioned in our views on society (III.C), social sectors should also be encouraged to cooperate in projects that require the combined resources and capabilities of governments, business firms, and organizations in civil society. One example is cooperation between governments, businesses, and environmental groups in the creation of sound environmental policies. Churches, business firms, and government agencies may also cooperate on day-care programs that serve lower-income families.  Businesses and governments may work together to create legislation that promotes a fair and open commercial environment -- one that encourages entrepreneurship and rewards ethical business practices.

These examples demonstrate how the relationships between sectors are complex. Citizens must discern how to enhance constructive cooperation between sectors while maintaining structures of accountability that enable sectors to "keep each other in line."

a. The Special Role of Institutions in Civil Society

Though they must be held accountable like all social institutions, the groups that comprise civil society have a special responsibility to be "visionary voices" in their culture. The primary goal of business firms is to earn profits and secure the financial prosperity of their owners.  In addition, many businesses measure their progress by their short-term earnings.  Many politicians also focus on short-term goals because they must run for reelection every few years.  They therefore feel compelled to demonstrate that they have accomplished something during their relatively short term in office.  The vision of government leaders may also be limited by the special interests that pay for their campaigns.

Institutions in civil society, however, may create long-term visions of social progress that embrace all individuals and social groups, as well as the health and integrity of the environment. We therefore propose that institutions such as faith communities and colleges should take a leading role in articulating and promoting long-term, holistic visions of social progress. They must encourage all social institutions and sectors to come together and create visions of long-term social goals toward which all may strive. Even if there is much disagreement on the details of these visions, the dialogue will raise and clarify crucial issues that must be addressed as we work together to build a free, just, and sustainable society.

Furthermore, if these social issues are discussed in a civil and open-minded manner by persons of good will, we believe that common sets of values and priorities will eventually emerge. Organizations in civil society must then lead discussions on ways in which to integrate these common values into the laws and policies that order our society.

Without the gathering places provided by faith communities, schools, and civic organizations, it is unlikely that these discussions will ever take place.  Only these institutions can provide forums in which diverse individuals from all walks of life can speak and be heard.  Only these groups can lower the barriers created by the wealth and influence that often dominate public discourse in political parties and the halls of government.

b. The Mission of The Eos Network in the Public Square

A central focus of the mission of The Eos Network will be to encourage and empower the institutions in civil society to assume this leadership role. This is the main function of our Political Education and Action Groups (PEAGs), which will be composed of groups of persons in our local chapters, or in any other organization, who wish to participate more actively in public life. As we discuss in the list of programs for our Public Ministry, PEAGs represent our attempt to renew the tradition of small-group political dialogue. In both Europe and America, small groups of citizens served as the bulwark of early democratic movements. They provided opportunities for individuals to freely express their political views and share their aspirations for responsible self-government. Similarly, we hope to establish intimate communities in which citizens can learn about politics and form their own political views, which they may then articulate in the broader arena of public discourse.

PEAGs may be formed practically anywhere -- in our local chapters, in other faith communities, in schools, in civic organizations, even in neighborhoods and families.  During their period of orientation, PEAG members will be introduced to our overall strategy for political organization, dialogue, and advocacy.  They will learn helpful guidelines for establishing their organizations.  They will also have the opportunity to master a variety of skills that are essential for constructive political dialogue.  Some of these include communication skills, goal setting, conflict management, and consensus building.  In addition, they will study our method for analyzing a wide range of political topics.

Our goal in these components of our orientation is to equip participants with methods for understand political life as well as helpful skills for sharing insights with each other in a civil and intelligent manner.  

The final component of the orientation program will introduce members to methods for advocating or promoting their views in the public square.  This part of their training will include workshops in advocacy strategies such as lobbying, rallies, peaceful demonstrations, and the use of different print, broadcast, and web-based media in order to communicate views to the general public.  We will also describe a variety of rhetorical strategies such as the creation of slogans and songs that communicate their views to the public.  In addition, we will provide guidance in building coalitions of groups that may combine resources in order to promote their views to a broader public audience.

Overall, the training of PEAG members will enable them to learn about political life in order to participate more effectively in it.  After their orientation is complete, groups may come together to discuss and evaluate parties, candidates, addresses, debates, and public policies.  Members may also try to form a consensus on those candidates, public leaders, and/or policies that best express and reflect their political views.  They may promote their consensus views on a small scale within their own communities, or they may build coalitions with other PEAGs – or with any other group – in order to orchestrate regional or national advocacy campaigns.


The training of PEAG members will be coordinated by The Center for Civic Education and Political Action.  The Center will also facilitate coalition building by PEAGs as they advocate their views.  This institution will be founded by The Eos Network, but it will be a separate and independent nonprofit organization that serves the general public.  For a fuller discussion of PEAGs and other forms of outreach sponsored by the Center, you may turn to our  "Ministry of Political Education and Action."  There you will a blueprint for a broad array of programs designed to promote political insight, dialogue, and action within and beyond our faith community.

In conclusion, we hope to create, within and beyond our membership, a new civic spirit that encourages vigorous public dialogue on important political issues. We hope to convince leaders of schools, churches, and civic groups that they and their members must explore the political implications of the ideals of their organizations. Only then can we all work together to have a greater voice in public policy and in the shaping of public morality – a voice that advocates the long-term well-being of individuals, human societies, and the environment.

To achieve these ambitious goals, we must emphasize to our members and partners that the process of promoting political reform is often a challenging struggle.  Individuals and institutions may be reluctant to move beyond their own self-interest.  They may focus only on their short-term gain.  Or perhaps they are immobilized by their sense of powerlessness in the face of political systems that are largely controlled by wealthy interest groups. Participants in PEAGs should thus be prepared to struggle with courage and perseverance as they engage in political dialogue and participate in political action. We trust that our faith and fellowship will be strong enough to sustain these efforts to reinvigorate public life.

4. The Ethical Relationships within Socio-Cultural Affiliations of Race, Class, Gender, Creed, Age Group, Ethnicity, and Sexual Orientation

As discussed above in our view of society, socio-cultural affiliations are groups of persons who share some characteristic that may influence their access to resources needed for their development.  Persons from some classes or ethnic groups may, for example, enjoy more advantages than individuals from other groups as they attempt to better themselves and participate in society.  Faced with these patterns of inequality and discrimination, we affirm the values of fairness, equality, mutual understanding, and tolerance.  We propose that all individuals should have the same opportunities to find meaning and fulfillment in life, regardless of their race, gender, class, creed, age group, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. We also maintain that it may be necessary to redistribute resources and opportunities from more privileged to less privileged groups.

For example, we adamantly affirm the equal dignity of men and women, and we insist on their equal responsibility to be leaders in families, in civic groups, in the workplace, and in political associations. We therefore maintain that each gender ought to be given equal opportunities for personal growth and for leadership in social institutions. Toward this end, we believe that allowances should be made for the unique challenges that women face because of the special physical and emotional needs associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and the rearing of children.

While these patterns of diversity must be taken into account, we propose that it is also important not to view a person solely in terms of any one or even a few of these characteristics. We therefore focus on gender, race, etc., in the context of the whole person, without reducing individuals to some aspects of their being and thus neglecting the full richness of their personalities and vocations. On the practical level of institutional policies, this means that groups should be sensitive to the physical, psychological, and cultural differences that shape the specific abilities and interests of their members and constituents. However, they should not let any one personal characteristic determine the ways in which individuals are treated in institutional policies.  Organizations should thus strive for fairness and balance as they create opportunities for all individuals based on an appreciation of diversity.

We also promote respect for the distinctive values and customs of different ethnic groups, as long as these customs benefit group members and do not harm other persons or groups.

C. Ecology and Environmental Ethics in the Moral and Spiritual Vision of Eos Network

1.  Helping Individuals to Value Nature in a Variety of Ways

We propose that persons may develop an "ecological consciousness" by experiencing the value of the natural world in a variety of ways. One may experience nature as a bountiful source of sustenance when one is able to meet one’s basic needs through the prudent use of technology and wise stewardship of natural resources.

One may also experience nature as a tranquil place in which one may encounter the divine in a more focused and immediate way. Thus, it is not only aesthetically beautiful, but also sacramentally rich, disclosing to the eyes of faith the mystery, beauty, and awe of the sacred.  The natural world may be a source for intellectual enrichment as one studies the great variety of forms of life and the complex living systems within which they thrive. One may experience the moral challenge of gaining humility before the vast legacy of life of which we are a part; one may cultivate the virtues of simplicity, discipline, and foresight as one tries to live a 'sustainable' lifestyle.  In this way of life, we meet our needs in ways that preserve the environment.  We may buy fewer material goods, drive less polluting cars, use mass transit, conserve energy, and recycle waste.  And finally, one of the most popular ways to experience nature is through recreation: hiking, boating, hunting, fishing, or simply having a picnic.

The spread of an ecological consciousness requires that all persons gain the opportunity to encounter and experience nature in these ways. Part of the vocation of this community is thus to pursue these experiences in our own lives and to help others to do so as well, whether they are our next-door neighbor or someone living on another continent.

2.  Promoting an Ecological Consciousness through Social Institutions

Experiencing the richness of nature is a crucial starting point for the development of an ecological consciousness.  However, we have emphasized many times that individuals' lives and our social world are shaped by the policies and projects of social institutions.  We thus propose that all types of institutions should explore ways in which they can promote an ecological consciousness and ecologically sound ways of living.  Schools may devote more resources to courses in ecological science.  Faith communities can explore the ways in which nature is viewed and valued by their traditions.  Business firms can use natural resources and dispose of wastes in more ecologically sound ways.  Environmental organizations should continue their diligent work of education, preservation, and activism.  Media organizations should inform the public about events and trends that affect the environment.  Governments should promote the development and implementation of sustainable or 'green' technologies.  These technologies enable societies to meet their needs in ways that protect and preserve the environment.  Some examples include cleaner ways of producing energy, cleaner and more efficient forms of transportation, cleaner processes for manufacturing goods, recycling technologies, energy efficient methods of building construction, energy efficient appliances, and methods of farming that minimize pollution and preserve the land.  Governments should also encourage 'smart growth' initiatives in which communities are planned in ways that minimize traffic and encourage the use of mass transit.  In addition, they should set aside wilderness areas that provide habitat for plants and animals as well as recreational opportunities for human beings.  

3.  Changing Institutions through Structural Service: Political and Economic Activism

While institutions in many parts of the world have responded to the ecological crisis in creative and decisive ways, there is still much to be done.  The rise of an ecological consciousness is a fairly recent phenomenon.  Many cultures -- east and west, north and south, ancient and contemporary -- have been short-sighted in their stewardship of the natural world.  Many institutions in these cultures have been slow to respond to environmental problems.  It is thus necessary for individuals and groups to consistently pressure all institutions, but especially governments and businesses, to promote the welfare of ecosystems around the globe.  This vigilant effort involves the practice of structural service, which seeks to reform institutions so that they better meet the needs of all those who are touched by their activities.

Political Activism
We encourage our members -- as well as all citizens -- to engage in political dialogue and action in order to promote public policies that protect the environment. We particularly encourage our Political Education and Action Groups to propose and advocate policies that protect individual species, preserve ecosystems, conserve natural resources, and protect the air and water that are the foundation of the entire biosphere.

In all areas of environmental policies, it is essential that successful strategies for addressing environmental problems be shared by all nations.  These groups should thus urge governments to tackle large scale problems such as climate change and acid rain that require broad international efforts to implement sustainable technologies and adopt sustainable lifestyles.  Since poor nations may not have the resources to participate fully in these efforts, citizens should also urge governments and international organizations to create strategies for transferring "green" technologies from wealthy nations to less affluent ones.  

We challenge PEAGs to tirelessly promote policies that pursue these goals on the local, state, national, and international levels.

Economic Activism
Our members can also engage in structural service on behalf of the environment by encouraging changes in economic institutions.  They can purchase goods and services from businesses that adopt ecologically sound policies and practices.  They can also participate in boycotts of firms whose practices are especially harmful to the environment.  This type of activism is especially powerful because it can be practiced every day by everyone who consumes goods and services.  Moving back to the political realm, citizens can promote international trade agreements that contain provisions requiring firms in all participating nations to protect the environment.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we propose to cultivate an ecological consciousness first by helping persons to experience nature directly, thereby enriching themselves physically, intellectually, aesthetically, spiritually, morally, and through simple rest and recreation. We also challenge institutions of all types to promote an ecological consciousness in their respective spheres of activity and influence.

In order to keep prodding institutions to do this, especially governments, we encourage political dialogue and activism on behalf of species, ecosystems, and the biosphere as a whole. On all levels of government, bold initiatives must be taken to create more sustainable ways of living.  We also encourage members to promote change in business firms by purchasing goods and services that are made and provided in ecologically sustainable ways. 

The members of this faith community may be leaders in these efforts, helping fellow members and other persons of good will to be responsible stewards of the communities of life of which we are all a part. If these efforts are successful, persons in all cultures may more clearly recognize the natural world as a part of God’s creation, through which God blesses us abundantly.