First, let me, if only by the printed word, welcome you to Chicago. We can be, at our best, like Abraham's tent. All four sides with the walls rolled up to welcome the stranger from every direction. At our worst, we build expressways to divide us up, practice racism, sexism, ageism, narcissism, and build both invisible and physical walls of capitalism between the rich and the poor as you have already described so eloquently.
While we are a crossroads, there is also a strong Catholic heart that beats here across every parish and every cross street, touching every single soul -- professed Catholic or not -- with the long known horror of sex abuse now printed up on 6,000 pages where the world can see and all of us listening can feel in some way or another the ripples of shame.
So we need your help.
If sin is distance from God, or distance from what's holy -- as I believe -- then we are awash in sin. I write not because I expect you to wave a magic wand and make it go away. You are the Pope. Not Santa Claus. I write from the faith that if you somehow read this message, which is an offering up on some very specific, foundational points on how to heal our broken city, if you read this -- you'd understand my message of healing. And in understanding, you'd make it part of the conversation on how we'll go about, within God's light, the business of healing.
I'm also writing because all five points are ones I can personally help lead. So if you need my help, call me. From what I hear, you do that.
A Vision For Healing -- Across Chicago
• Adapt a SYSTEMS THINKING Approach. Detailed in the work of Peter Senge and others. Systems thinking gives us a way to think about the problem as a whole. Not in small pieces.
• Build a Culture of Accountability. Composed of confidence, integrity, pride and passion. My friend Curt Coffman's Book, Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch offers up a path on how to do this. I've done it myself in a variety of settings.
• Celebrate Inclusion. Emulating the Moravian practice of building and living a life where the practice of Love is needed most. Not to judge or convert. Rather, to be among the people in need. Chicago is a city (like most I suppose) fueled by the notion that "some are on the outside and some are on the inside." The sex abuse scandal is being managed solely by Catholics -- on the inside. Picture a world where non-Catholics became part of the leadership in the universal work of healing. Imagine the instant credibility.
• Constantly raise the commitment to learning. When the solution to this systemic wound is tossed off as "we need training," I shudder. Having spent a lifetime as a developer of leaders and managers; I can say that learning in the very broadest sense is the need here. Not just "training."
• "Let the church be the church." A quote from the American theologian Stanley Haurwas. The idea being that the church be included -- like every other institution -- in the community. Not to be the community. Rather, to be the church. Within that calling is the mystery of God's will. And there is also a path to the forgiveness, the turning of the cheek, the listening and love we will all need to heal. A passage of scripture that rings true here is:
God has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:9-10
That passage brings to mind the always-relevant question, "How?" Visions of a healed city are nice. But only if we go to work. And I would not be sincere in offering up this picture of healing if I didn't also say, "I'll help." All five of the elements of healing are ideas that can be turned into action, if the right person is in place, and the resources are made available, to lead the coaching, training, development and cultural change efforts summarized here.
So if, on the very slim chance, you read this -- please do not hesitate to call. I understand you do that.
And I'd be honored to help.
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