Committing to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

By Ruth Pearce
group of diverse people high-fiving

I have been thinking a lot about Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) recently – both in my role at VIA Institute on Character and in the rest of my life. How do I live up to my ideals of being just, treating people equitably while honoring their uniqueness and co-creating a place of belonging for as many as possible? There is no one answer, it is a journey that for me, starts with Curiosity and Hope, Gratitude and Appreciation.

I am struck that our organizational statement begins, "what is best in people?" There are times when it seems that the answer might be “not much!” We see groups inflicting harm on each other and find it hard to see, understand and stomach. Our sense of Fairness is affronted, our sense of Teamwork. Our Forgiveness is tested to the limit and not just ours at VIA, all of humanity.

We at VIA embrace character ‘science’ and we work to support everyone that wants to discover, apply and celebrate not only their own character strengths but the character strengths of others – even when they are different in some way. We are humbled by the experiences of our community and by how far there is to go in creating awareness, understanding and action. We recognize that changing the world will take prudence and kindness.

"If you have to choose between being kind and being right, choose being kind and you will always be right." — Dalai Lama.

Love, Kindness, Social Intelligence, Forgiveness, Humility, Prudence, and Self-Regulation are, to us, pathways to greater connection and community.

At VIA, we stand for Humanity & Temperance.

Honoring character strengths is one step towards supporting a more impartial society (justice); putting no one ahead of or behind another (equity); celebrating perspectives (diversity); and fostering a sense of belonging (inclusion).

There is no ultimate JEDI destination, it is a journey for each of us individually and for VIA as a team. It is with Perseverance we step down that pathway, and with as much Honesty as we can muster that we hold space for difficult and challenging conversations. It is with zest that we embrace opportunities to learn and grow, understand more and do more to create a future that is better than our past or present. It takes Bravery to feel uncomfortable about what we don’t know and yet engage with curiosity rather than excuses. We look to our community to Lead us along the JEDI path by challenging our assumptions and sharing lived experiences.

“You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.” ―Brené Brown

Acts of marginalization, discrimination and oppression diminish the content of our collective character and we at VIA condemn them.

At VIA, we stand for Justice & Courage.

The VIA team strives to learn from — and represent in its work — the breadth and depth of the human experience from as many perspectives as possible - inclusive of race, ethnicity, religion, culture, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, genetics, physical ability, age, education, languages spoken, veteran status, national origin, citizenship, and immigration status.

We are thankful for our opportunities to express our curiosity, to learn deeply about the beliefs and traditions of others different from ourselves, use the strengths of the team to foster critical thinking, and to invite different perspectives. Sometimes we have to face uncomfortable questions individually and collectively about the beliefs we hold, the actions we take, the behaviors we manifest. Seeing what is wonderful out of what may seem bleak using appreciation of beauty and excellence, maintaining a vision of the future while being in and taking steps in the presence through our collective strength of hope, and seeing that we are more than the sum of our team members.

"For there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.” — Laureate Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet.

We reach toward a bigger goal with broader meaning and purpose through Spirituality and when the moment calls for it, Humor.

At VIA, we stand for Wisdom & Transcendence.

Your Support Can Help Us Fill the World with Greater Virtue

VIA's non-profit mission is to help people across all cultures, religions, beliefs and races discover and live their true character strengths. A world where everyone is recognized for their strengths is a world with improved well-being, increased happiness, strengthened relationships and greater capacity to manage adversity. Help us apply character strengths to make a difference.