Capturing the Heart of Leadership: Spirituality and Community in the New American Workplace

By Gilbert W. Fairholm | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
The Place of Spirit in Our Work Lives

The world advertises that the expanding scope of social organizations and institutions is good. That may be, but bigness often brings with it a loss of individuality. In many areas of life we subordinate the individual to the public weal. People are no longer directed by tradition or by the inner self. Rather, we are "outer-directed," made to conform to an external group standard.

For most of human history no one had to search for the sacred. At the core of every culture was a cult, with sacred times and places set aside for public rituals. Religion was the womb of civilizations ( Woodword 1994). For most of our history religion was the core force that created our sense of morality, of right and wrong. Religious principles defined moral conduct. Religion defined good and evil and provided the context for human interactivity.

Today it is otherwise. Now we move in secular time and space. To the Pilgrim fathers America was sacred soil--a new promised land. Our forbearers saw America as a land set aside by God as a place of refuge and hope for those believers who would conform their lives and their intercourse to known, religious principles of conduct. Thus, all social interaction was conditioned on moral principles finding their source in religious principle and custom.

Now only the individual person (or, more typically today, the group) is seen as sacred. We have lost our religious moral roots. In a drive for so-called sophistication we have dropped our dedication to a specific religious orthodoxy. Instead, many of us are looking for the sacred from

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