Notes from Way Forward 4: Towards a Behavioural Covenant

Way Forward #4 – Towards a Behavioural Covenant

Monday May 1, 2017 in St James’ Memorial Hall

Present: Sophie Rolland, Laurie Tomita, Christ Haslam, Yves Boucher, Christine Snyder, Joanna Bicknell, Vivianne Lariviere, Alastair Smith, Gay Campbell, Christopher Campbell, Diana Tognieri, Tracy Gallacher, Irene Lunt, Nigel Holehouse, Ian Sinclair.

Question 1

What is (should be) the difference between behaviour at a church meeting and a secular meeting.

  • We go to church because we are trying to follow God and live God’s values. We will be at our best behavior and try to be guided by God’s values when we are at a church meeting.
  • We should use the values we learn at church at church meetings and when we are in any meeting. There should not be a difference.
  • Topics in a Christian meeting can (must?) include spirituality.
  • People who do not go to church often have similar values to Christian values, so the expectations are similar.
  • Secular meeting tend to be more competitive and hierarchical. People are defined by their roles and their positions. In the church, a member is a member and everyone should have an equal voice .
  • We expect people in the church context or in a secular context to treat each other with love / respect / forgiveness – but I am often disappointed….

Question 2

Can you tell a story that highlights a behavior that reflects our values of love, respect and forgiveness?

  • Hugs – when I made myself vulnerable felt appreciated and accepted when everyone came up to me afterwards and gave me a hug.
  • People who know me and all my flaws but love me completely.
  • We know we should (and want to ) forgive but its hard especially when someone does the same thing over and over again.
  • When I was listened to deeply – when someone is present to me – a steadfast listener so that they can really understand me and get to know me.
  • Welcomed into the family even though not “technically” family
  • When someone’s behavior and lifestyle teaches me how to behave.
  • I knew I did something wrong and worked through it with the one I harmed until reconciliation happened. We are closer now ant I am a better person now. I benefitted from my own wrongdoing!

Question 3

Can you tell a story that highlights a behavior that undermines our values of love, respect and forgiveness?

  • Someone said something that was a lie about me and spread it around.
  • Going behind my back and not coming directly and getting first hand account.
  • I have no voice – not being heard – not trying to understand me.
  • Not returning a book that you said you would
  • Not include in an event or a group of friends – it makes me sad when it happens to me. When it happens to someone I love or someone who is powerless it makes me ANGRY.
  • Yelling at me and making me feel small.
  • Pope Francis said we should begin a “revolution of tenderness” and I agree!

Bullying: A discussion continued on the nature and the effects of bullying. Many of the behaviors that undermine our values are seen in bullying behaviors and we need to find a way to neutralize their bad effects.

Laurie presented some findings from her research on bullying using Wikipedia and some other Internet resources.

The definition of bullying: The use of force, threat or coercion to abuse, intimate or aggressively dominate others. There are 4 types of bullying:

  1. Emotional (sometimes called relational)
  2. Verbal
  3. Physical
  4. Cyber

What was also interesting were the motives that have been identified for bullies:

  1. To boost their own self-esteem
  2. To conceal shame
  3. Arrogance / Entitlement
  4. Depression can sometimes be at the root of bullying
  5. In some rare cases genetic predisposition can be a cause of this behaviour

Victims tend to be:

  1. Lacking in social skills (like many children)
  2. Tending towards negative thoughts
  3. Having difficulty solving problems
  4. Easily distraught emotionally
  5. Having physical characteristics that make them easier targets for bullying

Bystanders play a key role in the acceptance of this behaviour:

If this behaviour is witnessed by others with no comment or push-back, it becomes “accepted behaviour” or part of the “Norm”.

Food for thought: Remember that bullying is in the “eyes of the beholder” and at times, the perpetrator may not be aware that the person they are addressing is a “victim”.   We must be very careful and understand the person to whom we are speaking to ensure that nothing that we are saying could be taken as coming from a “bully”.

Where do we go from here?

Starting from these behaviours we will focus them into a behavioral covenant that we can adopt as a parish at our Annual Vestry meetings next year. People who are particularly interested can join together to refine the covenant but as a general rule each promise will be expressed positively and it will be linked to a biblical theme or passage. We should set up the committee relatively soon.