In principle, if group members have not agreed to a particular morality or set of values, it is not okay to expect or impose that particular morality or set of values. People become uncomfortable when it feels like a specific moral code is being imposed without permission. Imposing morality creates enemies.
On the other hand, if your group has a moral code it is right to honor it. Speaking a certain morality without acting on it also creates enemies.
Practical Tip: Do not impose unwelcome morality. Act out agreed morality. Work to change group morality using agreed group processes.
For example, if a neighborhood association’s stated purpose and other governing documents say nothing of environmental values, group members should not impose environmental values as if they were group values. It is not okay to suggest that someone is being “anti-group” if they are being “anti-environment.” If you would like environmental values to become group values then work for that within the rules. Request discussion about it. Make a proposal. Practice environmental values in your own yard and in all ways that are not contrary to group decisions. But in the absence of stated group morality, it is not okay to behave as if such morality is shared by the group as a whole.
– Craig Freshley
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3 thoughts on “Morality as agreed”
Thanks for your comment, Rosemarie. Indeed, it is so easy to fall into assumptions about group values or group morality and, as we know, assumptions often lead to conflict! For starters, if I join a new group and I hear or “feel” someone judging me in ways that don’t seem aligned with the group’s written statements, I’m likely to feel uncomfortable and perhaps even leave.
This makes me think of the assumptions that we make about shared values, such that we don’t even think to check into whether or not we are on the same page among us as team members, board members, congregational members. Being able to address the elephant in the room can be paramount to moving forward together. Thanks for this Tip, Craig.
This is very good guidance; which, unfortunately is not often practiced in many neighborhood associations.