Choosing a name for a baby is never an easy task, however, this is now made easy with many books of baby names available along with taking a Google search on the Internet. A person’s name is important and is more than a collection of letters of the alphabet arranged in a formation to create words, which a person usually learns to accept as their name in their formative years. Names do have meaning, take my name for instance, the English meaning of Alfred is: sage, wise, elvin, which is a derivative of the Old English Aelfraed, meaning elf counsel and also from Ealdfrith or Alfrid meaning old peace. You may already know what your name means, if you don’t it is worth spending time making new discoveries.
Names are important, so a few years ago we agreed to describe ourselves as the Community of St Aidans. This was an intentional decision, which continues to offer unlimited possibilities for living and being in this current era of our communal lives. It is always a healthy activity to re – focus and intentionally examine the health of our community. There are a variety of ways we may undertake such activity. Last Sunday at Café Church our second question was:
How can we build healthier communities together?
This question is pregnant with possibilities that we may use to discover our communal health. The responses to this question from our table conversations are rich in insight. I have grouped them around the following:
Interpersonal relationships within the Community
- Acceptance, respect and tolerance of each other, includes accepting, not just tolerating
- Practicing patience, empathy, compassion and caring along with trust and kindness
- Looking out for each other
- Making an active effort at communication and connection, allowing others to share and reflective listening
- Gathering together, sharing hospitality and getting to know each other
- Working together hand in hand, not pointing the finger at each other, but each contributing according to their talents
- Responsibilities shared
- Acceptance of differences of opinion, being inclusive and refusing to have cliques, not leaving people out.
- Not quarrelling or arguing over miniscule problems
- Tolerance of change and difference
- Taking part in a physical sense in social gatherings
- Emphasising the things we have in common
Justice and Action
- Doing the right thing
- When you have a choice between being right and being kind, choose kindness
- Narrowing the gap between rich and poor
Relationships with other Communities
- Inequality between communities does not build healthy communities
- Understanding and communicating with other communities
- Awareness of what is happening around us
- Organisations that have concern for each other and / or meet the needs of all ages
- Joining groups that aim to meet community needs
- Joining organisations who have concern for others like clubs, for example Scouts and Guides
- Sporting interests
- Moving outside – never closing our doors to other people
Following the Golden Rule
One of the table groups in their feedback mentioned:
- Following the Golden Rule, everything is based on this
- The Bible teaches us to unite the world as one loving and healthy community regardless of background or belief
Those who mentioned this are in good company with Pope Francis, who on Thursday 24 September 2015, addressed the United States Congress. He included in his speech the following:
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.
We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).
This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities, which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.
We each will have our own thoughts and opinions on Pope Francis, yet reading the above he hits the bull’s eye, for the Golden Rule is the yardstick for measuring a local or global community’s health and wellbeing.
There is a danger of being seduced by the allure of the ideal, while forgetting that making a difference for good and healthier communities always commences within individuals, as we change ourselves, so do communities change. Carl Jung offers this succinct thought:
‘Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside wakes.’
When we look inside and wake up we realise our own individual responsibility to be the change that we desire for our community.
This is what Pope Francis said in his speech:
In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.
Consequently looking at our feedback above:
If we want our communities to be places of:
- Acceptance of each other, we personally need to give acceptance
- Respect for each other, we personally need to give respect
- Tolerance of each other, we personally need to be tolerant of each other
- Patience, empathy and compassion, we need to personally practice patience, empathy and compassion
I am sure you get the picture. Whatever you or I desire for our community/communities that is the very thing you and I must first embody and practise. Our individual practice will bring about the communal change we hope and long for. This then offers the real possibility of our being more than just the Community of St Aidans in name only, to being a place of belonging, acceptance, tolerance and compassion for all who find their way to our community. This is nothing more, than the Golden Rule in practice.