|We need thought out statements promoting values.|
|We need people living lives of compassion & passion sending ripples of goodness through the world.|
1st. Value Statements
When I began as chaplain at St John Ambulance in Dunedin I noticed on the wall in the kitchen where everyone has lunch this set of statements...
This is a place where people care about each other as people.
- listen to each other non-judgementally.
- let a person finish their comments without interrupting.
- make positive rather than negative comments.
- make everyone welcome so they feel part of our team.
- share our good/bad times confidentially.
- praise the work/achievements of others.
- have fun in our daily lives.
I thought it wasn't a bad set of suggestions or directions for a workplace. When my brother was principal of Brockville Primary School here in Dunedin there was a similar set of statements that highlighted the values of the school. I was very impressed with them and wrote them down somewhere, but have since lost them. On the schools website it lists the values as;
We live in a very secular and pluralistic society. We have a range of religions and people with no religion. We have a range of ethnic groups. It struck me that maybe "somebody" should put forward a similar set of statements that could be accepted and promoted as "These are the New Zealand values or ideals. This is the sort of society we want to build in which these values are esteemed." Surely some sort of common statement could be drawn up that transcended politics, religions and ethnicities? It would allow the values to be taught openly, to be promoted and to become a part of Kiwi identity.
Anyway, just thinking aloud. I share a couple of other statements that I think are worth lifting up. First a Maori proverb...
He aha te mea nui ote ao, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata. (What is the greatest gift in the world? The people, the people, the people.)
Another statement I like from President Obama when he was a senator..
"I believe there are many paths to the same place, and that is the belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as people, that there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and that there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived."
Yet another statement is of course the Charter for Compassion...
I suggest these statements because I think we need to be promoting such issues. Without having such issues as values talked about and taught, we can drift into a society where the greatest value followed is for me to seize as much enjoyment for me as I can, with no thought or consideration for a wider circle. We can develop a very individualistic society with no sense of solidarity or connection with others. There may have been a time in western society when the Church had a major say in shaping society, but that no longer is true. One of the reasons I have stayed in the church and in ministry is that it at least attempts to grapple with and promote wider values. With a powerless Church or a life-negating religion, and in our pluralistic community, there needs to be secular base from which values can be presented and encouraged. Such statements encourage this.
2nd. Living messages of hope
As well as statements promoting high ideals and values, our communities need people and groups demonstrating high ideals by their very lifestyle. People need not just to hear words about alternative values, but see those values exercised and lived. This is why I was so keen to instigate Habitat for Humanity in Dunedin. I believed that as well as providing for the needs of poorer people, it set ripples of generosity, connectedness and compassion off within the community. It is why I like to facilitate our Christmas Dinner. It gives people, volunteers, guests and the wider community a picture or experience of another style of life than the me-centredness we often slide into. I try to reach out in compassion because I believe that compassion is like a flu bug, it can be infectious and a community can be changed when enough people try it.