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"In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the road to action."
Dag Hammarskold

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 517

Estimated reading time:  3:30 minutes

 

Greetings from Lakeview Resort on Hecla Island, Manitoba. It is crisp, clear and cold today, and an eagle just flew by. It is a good day.

 

Here in Canada, November 11 is known as Remembrance Day. It is 100 years ago this month that the Battle of Paschendale ended, with casualties on both sides numbering around 600,000, in the 4.5 month long battle. Violence continues to this day, in work places, in homes, on the street, in lands far away, and in small churches in Texas. 

 

And I’ve been wondering then about this idea of Remembrance Day. Why do we call is Remembrance, as opposed to Remembering Day? Is it just the syntax? I think in fact Remembrance is exactly the word we are after here. There is a Greek word that clergy learn in the first year of seminary. It is anamnesis. And the closest English word is “remembrance.” It is the word heard in most Communion Prayers in the Christian tradition, “do this in remembrance of me.” It is often linked with the ancient Hebrew word, zrk, a way of remembering that gives us insight into the present and the future, by making the past present.

 

And it is this sense of zrk, this sense of anamnesis, that I believe Remembrance Day is really all about. We are not to simply remember, not simply give platitudes. We are not simply to stand silently and offer prayers, or think about what someone did to you at work yesterday, or whatever it is we do in those two minutes of silence.  We are to learn and make a better future. Pay attention to the guns as they fire, they are bringing the past forward, they are bringing the terror into our cities and towns. And those guns and the silence is calling you and I to learn from those mistakes. Those guns and the silence are calling us to bring the past present so that we might learn the consequence of violence, the consequence of retribution and revenge, the consequence of betrayal and fear.

 

And so as leaders in our workplaces, what control to we have to prevent violence, prevent bullying, prevent fear from becoming the cultural norm? We have the power of modelling, of being leaders who care, who stand up for the victim, who are compassionate, and who hold each other accountable for not only the results, but how we get those results. We have the power of instilling cultures of kindness and mutual respect. And in doing so, we are building communities of kindness and mutual respect, and then countries where one day we might just be able to…

 

beat [our] swords into ploughshares,
    and [our] spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall [we] learn war any more;
4 but [we] shall all sit under [our] own vines and under [our] own fig trees,
    and no one shall make [us]  afraid; (Micah 4:3)