The traditional way of talking across the communion, involves the English and Americans doing their thing, with an occasional surprise mugging organised by UK or US dissidents. Indaba has to be better than that. There’s a real challenge about how the indaba process can work for us. It probably needs to evolve into a less timed, micro-project based mode.
Western societies are amazingly impersonal, superficial, hurried, materialistic. They also exhibit a very low capacity for people to relate to one another, with their high rates of family breakdown, crime, depression and anomie. Lambeth is a marvellous opportunity to learn from people of different cultures more about how relationally rich societies tick. Faith binds us together, and gives us a key to unlock our differences and fundamental unity in relation to reality bigger than ourselves.
Earlier today, someone told me about Hawaiian virtues of which I had not heard:
Pono — You may not agree, but you need to be in a right relationship with people. This is partly acknowledging a higher accountability than your feelings, interests and perceptions. The UK norm is to prize agreement in an organisation above relationship.There could be a sermon in this sometime. Imagine a world where people worked to understand each other in their own terms. For now I just want to log it as one of the learnng concepts for me from this rather extraordinary learning time.
Mana — Holiness, recognised in people and creation. This sounds rather like the Quaker discipline of “looking for what is of Christ in the other person.” Our Western approach treats the earth like a thing, and flattens or rationalises any sense of wonder and reverence for people and things.
Malama — Unselfishness, or, more positively, care for the other person. We seem by comparison selfish and narcissistic. Old people often feel dumped, selfishness is turned into a virtue, and care is often bureacratised.