Can Britain, to use a phrase from the Chief Rabbi, become ‘A Community of Communities?’ This is the British government’s hope. ‘The Government welcomes the richness of the cultural diversity which immigrants have brought to the UK – our society is multi-cultural, and is shaped by its diverse peoples. We want British citizenship positively to embrace the diversity of background, culture and faiths that is one of the hallmarks of Britain in the 21st century.’ . The government sometimes describes its aim as ‘community cohesion’
This requires a search for Shared Values.
To mark the new Millennium, at the invitation of the government and organised by the Interfaith Network of the UK, a Shared Act of Reflection and Commitment by the Faith Communities of the United Kingdom was held in the Palace of Westminster. At the end all were invited to say:
We commit ourselves,
as people of many faiths
to work together for the common good, uniting to build a better society,
grounded in values and ideals we share:
a sense of right and wrong,
learning, wisdom and love of truth,
care and compassion,
justice and peace,
respect for one another,
for the earth and its creatures.
We commit ourselves
in a spirit of friendship and co-operation,
to work together
alongside all who share our values and ideals,
to help bring about a better world
now and for generations to come.
A note to the programme says that other values could have been included. (Read more)
Sr. Maureen of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University reflected during an IIC conference on Building Community:Living Together, Working Together, that
Community is actually a loaded word; who is within or without of our community? At what point do I exclude someone from entering the community? I think it is important to ask oneself, each day, why am I a member of my community? What is my purpose of being here? Whatever faith I belong to, these questions never cease to be relevant.
As I listened to the discussions and presentations, I became aware of a profound process of renewal that seemed to be happening. Communities are changing. Something new is being created as we grow from the past.
As I listened I became aware of certain principles of community building that seem to be emerging.
1) Community is based on good quality relationships; these are the building blocks of community.
2) Community is about caring and sensitivity to each other’s needs; about a sense of our common humanity.
3) Community need not be against anything, but can be for something; in this way communities should be inclusive.
4) The vision of each individual towards him or her self is important in building community; if a community feels oppressed, then who accepted that vision of others towards the community? As Henry said to us “Who said that I am untouchable? I am a very clean person!”
5) Honesty is important in building community. Honesty is very healing and enables forgiveness to take place. Forgiveness enables us to reconcile the past and leads to transformation. Reconciliation is better than vengeance.
6) Simplicity leads to productivity.
7) Prayer and meditation sustains a community.
8) Selfishness leads to tiredness.
9) Intrinsically good action for its own sake has a positive effect; through good action our lives become a statement of goodness.
10) Community is about giving, with humility, dignity and sensitivity. (Read more )
‘Community’ then embraces many strands: home, family, relationships and links between the generations.
Justice includes many elements – from the importance of just laws and respect for them to broader questions of social and economic justice.
Do you think these are values that people of all faiths or none can share? Would you have been willing to join in the affirmation?