They are the core values that hold us together as communities, a nation and a world.
The Civil Graces are not just about civility, which unfortunately, is missing in our current debate. They are guiding principles which are part of our social contract with one another, and when they are ignored, our world is filled with division, violence, and unrest. Our founders understood these principles and called them “self-evident,” which means they don’t need to be proven but are ultimate Truths. When you consider that time, it was a war more of ideas than of weapons. The civil discourse was about the rights of humans in contrast to a centralized empire that dictated the rules. It was about creating a more just society away from the domination of one person calling the shots. The people won that debate. We the People are engaged in what scholars call a “second revolution” of ideas just like the first one where we re-articulate what is essential. It is a consciousness revolution. A paradigm shift. A return to a partnership model of society. All of humanity and our planet calls us to wake up and create a world that works for all. Meanwhile, there is a tug-of-war with those struggling to keep control.
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident…”
-The preamble to the Declaration of Independence
Civil Graces are core to our national ideal and the partnership model of society: Freedom, Justice, and Equality, though we haven’t always perfected their application. They are timeless beliefs throughout every spiritual tradition and philosophy. Hospitality, Courage, Gratitude, Truthfulness, and Integrity are among others of an ongoing list of what we hold as self-evident.
We are at a crossroads in America where the people will decide how to bring back the civil discourse and redefine who we are. Our institutions are toppling under the weight of an unsustainable model, and as we set the course for our world, we are asking essential questions on a personal and global level. What is our role in our democratic republic, and how can our individual pursuit of happiness contribute to the whole of humanity? Despite what we are constantly told, we are not a country divided. We are a diverse people who have long ago created an agreement to self-govern instead of putting our destiny in the hands of a monarch or elite ruling class. It is okay that we disagree as long as we hold the space for the Civil Graces that united us before and continue to unite us today. The question is do we focus on the divide or do we focus on continuing the discourse? There is a big difference in the outcome depending upon our choice.
The Civil Graces Project gives space for that dialogue. Together we will explore these beliefs and dig to the heart of their meaning. We will look at current issues and consider how we can reshape the debate by finding the common ground that connects us rather than focusing on what divides us. I designed the logo for Civil Graces to be two fingerprints that combine and form a heart. I believe that while we each have our unique identity, we can find space where we unite. By taking care of the space in between, we heal our communities, our nation, and our world. It also signifies that when we are on opposite sides of a debate, we have to have courage, which originally meant to “come with one’s full heart” to find the third way…the middle path. The Civil Graces are those unifying, timeless beliefs that will guide us through the journey as we create that “more perfect union.”