The objective of the Sanctuary Model is to offer a process for creating and sustaining a safety culture, one in which there is an active and sustained creation of a healthy moral climate. A moral climate has been described as a workplace atmosphere that is conducive to dealing with ethical problems and that fosters ethical practice reflected in organizational vision, goals, policies and routines. A positive moral climate embodies a set of values that replicates societal norms that are consistent with ethical practice(Lützén, Blom, Ewalds-Kvist, & Winch, 2010). In a recent book on moral development, the author has asserted that “The culture in which one is immersed influences how one behaves toward others on all levels: as an individual toward another individual, as a member of a group toward members of another group, as an individual or group member toward institutionalized social will.” (Narvaez, 2014).
The idea of talking about morality seems at times to be almost passé, or if not that, then strictly the territory of religious ideologues who would have their own preferences, view of the world, and ideas about the Deity, imposed on everyone else. And yet groups of people representing many different forms of diversity cannot function creatively, successfully, or peacefully without a shared system of values that guide their conduct toward each other, their vision for accomplishment and how they fit into and relate to the rest of the world.
We learned that valuable life lesson from two key experiences: 1. Working with a diverse group of individuals, particularly when under stress and 2. Treating children, adolescent, adults, families, and communities who had been exposed to adversity, trauma, and structural injustice (Bloom, 2013). Together we saw that the brain, the mind, and what is commonly known as the soul, are not separate and distinct components of a person but represent an interdependent, interactive system that as a whole, describes a person. As a recent commentator on morality has reasoned, “Questions about values—about meaning, morality, and life’s larger purpose—are really questions about the well-being of conscious creatures. Human well-being entirely depends on events in the world and on states of the human brain” (p.1) (Harris, 2010).
According to theorists who have been studying the role of moral development in the human species, morality serves to bind the individual to his or her social group, culture, or “moral system.” Moral systems can be viewed as “interlocking sets of values, virtues, norms, practices, identities, institutions, technologies, and evolved psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate selfishness and make coordinated social life possible” (p.14)(Graham & Haidt, 2012).
Our emotional system has evolved similarly to help us evaluate and resolve the complex situations presented by the social nature of our species. Emotions that are particularly relevant to the study of morality have been termed “moral emotions” and include feelings such as shame and guilt that negatively evaluate the self and its actions; righteous anger and indignation that negatively assess others; pride, admiration, gratitude and inspiration that guide us to appreciate the moral qualities in ourselves and in others; compassion and empathic distress that compel us to experience and show concern for the suffering of others; and empathic joy that connects us to delight in other people’s well-being. Healthy emotional development and therefore the development of emotional intelligence is highly dependent upon the childhood developmental experience of receiving empathic regard, sympathy and attunement from caregivers(Damon & Colby, 2015; Haidt, 2012; Keltner, 2009).
Much study has gone into examining the cognitive processes associated with moral reasoning. What we experience as immediate and rapid moral intuitions are actually shaped by many factors including prior deliberative moral reasoning within each of our cultural environments. Research has shown that once a person has thought through a moral issue, subsequent responses to situations perceived as similar are like to occur rapidly and automatically(Gibbs, 2014). Once these “moral habits” have formed subsequent action is not preceded by conscious reflection – it just becomes the way things are done around here. Instead these habits of thinking and acting become part of the cultural norms, deeply embedded in the values, codes and practices of whatever level of cultural experience we are focused upon. These cultural norms make it possible for us to function with some degree of automaticity in moral behavior that serves to constrain individual selfish motivations and desires and thus to reduce the amount of interpersonal conflict that would otherwise be present (Damon & Colby, 2015).
When the moral decisions that need to be made are being made not by a single individual but by a group of individuals, each of whom are adapting to change in their situations over time, the problem of a set system of rules becomes staggeringly complex. Thought has been given by a number of contributors to the importance of moral imagination in organizational decision-making and problem-solving, particularly in environments where the moral stakes are high(Godwin, 2015; Moberg & Seabright, 2000; Werhane, 2002). In organizational settings, moral imagination has been defined as “a reasoning process thought to counter the organizational factors that corrupt ethical judgment” (p.845)(Moberg & Seabright, 2000). Nowhere is this more important than in circumstances where human life and well-being is at stake.
Bloom, S. L. (2013). Creating sanctuary: Toward the evolution of sane societies (Vol. null).
Damon, W., & Colby, A. (2015). The Power of Ideals: The Real Story of Moral Choice. New York: Oxford University Press.
Gibbs, J. C. (2014). Moral Development and Reality: Beyond the Theories of Kohlberg, Hoffman, and Haidt. New York: Oxford University Press.
Godwin, L. N. (2015). Examining the Impact of Moral Imagination on Organizational Decision Making. Business & Society, 54(2), 254-278. doi:10.1177/0007650312443641
Graham, J., & Haidt, J. (2012). Sacred values and evil adversaries: A moral foundations approach. In M. Mikulincer & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Morality: Exploring the Causes of Good and Evil (pp. 11-31). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Haidt, J. (2012). The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York: Random House.
Harris, S. (2010). The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values. . New York: Simon and Shuster.
Keltner, D. (2009). Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. New York: W. W. Norton.
Lützén, K., Blom, T., Ewalds-Kvist, B., & Winch, S. (2010). Moral stress, moral climate and moral sensitivity among psychiatric professionals. Nursing Ethics, 17(2), 213-224. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0969733009351951
Moberg, D. J., & Seabright, M. A. (2000). The development of moral imagination Business Ethics Quarterly, 10(4), 845-884.
Narvaez, D. (2014). Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom. New York: Norton.
Werhane, P. (2002). Moral Imagination and Systems Thinking. Journal of Business Ethics, 38(1-2), 33-42. doi:10.1023/A:1015737431300