Grace stops at the institutional door. The great tension we feel is often this; a better nature tells us to behave with grace – acknowledge, support and sacrifice for others. But, once inside the corporate door, most bets are off.
The clerk in an audio shop explodes in anger when a confused customer asks a question three times. The clerk verbally assaults the customer and has to be restrained. Later, his boss admits that this behavior is nothing new. The clerk is fired.
The receptionist at a sports exercise facility, young enough to be a customers’ daughter, says to the customer, “Shame on you!” when she determines the customer has incorrectly followed new and complicated instructions for renewing his membership.
A high performance account executive apologizes over and over to his boss for calling him out of a meeting. Company rules require executive approval of big-ticket sales (in and of itself, a clear message of mistrust) and the account executive is desperately trying to gain that approval on the last day of the quarter. His boss says, “This happens because in our company, you’d better not bother a boss who’s in a meeting”.
In each case, real stories, a complete and absolute breakdown of what we call grace – the characteristic of treating others beyond a way one would expect treatment of himself – might well be traced to a loss of something personal and important in the souls of each participant.
To be sure, we start each day – each new cycle of life – with expectations for something good and whole and rewarding. Events then seem to transpire which cause these crises of loss. Something of us is taken away during each of these tragic interactions. And they are tragic since we are smaller after having participated in them. Pieces of our wholeness, the meaning that is our souls go away. Afterwards, we hope only to recover, but rarely to thoroughly heal from the destructive effects of gracelessness.
Daniel Goleman would call the audio store clerk’s behavior, “an emotional hijacking”.
The sports exercise receptionist appeared to be speaking to her children.
The account executive was feeling terror at the prospect of asking for something he needed.
Each lost something of him or herself at those moments. Each needed to heal. Where was the invitation to do that healing? Can the organization which fosters and suborns such behaviors in the first place, have even a prayer of offering healing?
Peace and Courage,