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Cultivating Public Values


– Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Shaun Casey. I’m the director of the Berkley Center. It’s an honor to have you with us today. We are thrilled to have
Phillip Sheldrake with us and he’s going to give
us a talk and after that, he’s going to come back to
the table and we’ll spend the balance of our time
together discussing, throwing questions at him and discussing the various issues that he raises. I should also remind you we
will have some refreshments outside so as soon as we’re done, you can go out and
spend some time drinking what we have and eating what we have and conversing informally with Phillip. So Phillip is a Senior Research Associate from the Von Hugel Institute at St. Edmund’s college in Cambridge. He’s also a Senior Research Fellow in the Cambridge Theological
Federation at Westscott House and he’s Director of Institute for the study of
Contemporary Spirituality of the Oblate School of Theology
at San Antonio, Texas. Previously, he was Leech
Professor of Applied Theology at Durham University and he earlier taught at
Cambridge and London University. He has taught and written extensively on Christian spirituality,
the nature of space and place in religion. The urban and spiritualty more generally. Sheldrake is the past President
of the International Society for the Study of Christian Spiritualty. He’s written or edited 15 books, translated into several
languages including, The Spiritual City, Theology
Spiritualty and the Urban, Spirituality A Brief
History second addition and explorations in Spirituality History, Theology and Social Practice. He is a fellow of the
Royal Society of Arts and fellow of the Royal
Historical Society. He trained in history,
philosophy and theology at the universities of London and Oxford, which granted him a doctorate
of Divinity Degree in 2015. So please join me in
welcoming Phillip to us and we’re looking forward
to the conversation. (audience applause) Thank you, welcome. – [Phillip] Thanks Shaun
(laughter), thank you. Well hello, I hope you won’t regret this invitation. I’m relieved to see, no I’m only joking. I was gonna say that Dave
Hollinbach isn’t here yet because I’m gonna actually
site him in my talk and I said don’t you dare put your hand up and say, I never said that. (audience laughter) Anyway, we won’t wait for him just in case he’s being held up doing other things. Anyway, the theme of this evening talk is cultivating public values. Oh, there he is. – [Dave] Sorry to be late. – No, no I haven’t gotten
as far as you yet David. (audience laughter) So in my view a serious exploration of values is critical if we’re gonna reflect on the contemporary public world, but before focusing on what I feel to be some central public values or virtues, I want to begin by clarifying
what exactly I mean by the word public and
what I mean by values. So, first of all public,
the public’s fear. Often people, I think understand
public life is confined to politics or to civic administration. However, public life is much broader. It’s essentially a dimension
of everyone’s lives. Life together in society,
a space of encounter, communication, well hopefully, shared activity and importantly
shared responsibilities. In this common space, both
physical and psychological, we are formed and educated. Here we explore out
identities and discover a sense of meaning including our values. We desperately need to
give greater attention to consciously embodying the
public dimension of our lives. This means seeking to live
out our values intentionally in the everyday world of
neighborhood, street and workplace. An important aspect of this is presence. I’m gonna come back to that. Presence to other people. In the western world,
since Greek or Roman times, cities have been seen as emblematic of our out of public life. And the construction of community. Unfortunately, since the 19th century, western cultures have become polarized. The privates fear, that’s to
say the self, family, home has been idealized as the
context where we are truly ourselves before we then play out different roles on the public stage. However from a Christian perspective, living in public is not
simply a role that we take up and put down, an unbalanced
rhetoric of privacy has serious moral consequences, I believe. It suggested our public existence is of secondary importance. However, Christian Theology
following Augustine affirms that there is no absolutely
private identity. To be human is to live in
common with a shared task. If being fully human is to be in public, what does public imply? The American Sociologist, Lyn Lofland, concerned with a growing
anti-public rhetoric of intolerance uses the
word, for places dominated by the interaction of strangers. Public places are very different from the intimacy of our private worlds. It’s interesting that
Christianity suggests that God is most powerfully experienced
in places that are strange to us rather than safely protected. New Testament scholars know, for example, that Jesus Christ regularly
pushed his disciples away from familiar places
and familiar people towards places that were initially threatening, because the inhabitants were
Gentiles or in some way, other. So the publics fear is
in an arena where diverse people need to establish
some form of commonality. This includes casual sociability
in local neighborhoods. And the less casual but
that are not very intimate context like the sports
club or the church. Another words living publicly goes beyond the purely incidental sharing of space, rather it implies learning how to be hospitable to difference. As part of the very process of reinforcing a since of who I am. Trouble is the public’s fear these days is often problematic. The world of politics is
currently overshadowed by sexual harassment and
financial impropriety. Social administration often
appears uninterested in people and narrowly focus on systems. In post-industrial areas,
the cry of pain that the sense of abandonment
and anger at liberal leaks provokes the populous revote. In large global cities like London, there is an increasing fear
of difference and migrants. There’s also a lack of attention to disfunction in the public sphere. I know doubt many of you heard about the terrible fire late June in Grenfell Tower. Now that was public housing
and it’s symbol of how rich and poor sit alongside
each other in what is the wealthiest borough of
London, Kensington/Chelsea. But without any mutual engagement. My partner Susie who
worked as a psychotherapist with survivors of the Grenfell Tower. Said it’s two planets or I would say, miss quoting Charles Dickens, it’s a real Tale of Two Cities. In the same burough property
is also being bought out by wealthy oligarchs as
an investment and left empty. Ownership without presence
or responsibility. In his analysis of public life,
the rule, theme of diversity was picked up by Richard
Sennett the American Sociologist who also teaches in London,
School of Economics. He partly blames the fear of mixture for a contemporary privatization of space and the soulless nature
of many modern cities. He argues that western
societies suffer, I quote, from a divide between
subjective experience and worldly experience, self and city. He believes this is based
on an unacknowledged fear of self exposure which is thought of as a threat rather than an enhancement. Consequently, urban
regeneration, both in Europe and here in the states, after World War II too often concentrated on
creating safe divisions between different groups of people. Public space became bland
because the main purpose of public space was to facilitate movement through it rather encounters in it. We’ve also de-emphasized place for the sake of the
economic value of mobility. The Scottish Christian thinker,
Michael Northcott notes the modern city celebrates and facilitates mobility at the expense of settlement, movement at the expense of place. That isn’t simply a social issue, but it’s a spiritual issue. Without a sense of place there is no centering of the human spirit. When human conditions undermine this, the consequent displacement
is striking in its effect, on individuals and on societies. Our physical environments have a massive road in shaping the public sphere. In his writings on special
practice, Michel de Certeau the French Jesuit, historian,
scholar, spirituality and social scientist critiques
modernist urban design which he says promoted
spatial purification. He was inspired partly
by the social humanism of the philosopher, Emmanuel
Mounier, who himself was strongly influenced by
Catholic social teaching. De Certeau’s writings continued
to be very provocative. He defends (mumbles), a space created by the narratives of people
versus a purely planned and architecturally
conceived concept city. I want to focus very briefly
on two of his essays. Ghost In The City seems likely
that one of his targets was Le Corbusier, the French
Swiss architect had such an influence on European
and North American urban regeneration during the
mid-twentieth century. Le Corbusier fundamentally believed in a kind of gnostic matter spirit jewelism. For him, Le Corbusier
true knowledge and values were to be found in the
inner individual life. His urban design sought to eliminate anything that reinforced public life as a determining factor in our identities. Consequently, his city
schemes made it very difficult for people to
gather together casually. In contrast, de Certeau, a
healthy city is a richly textured fabric persistently woven,
as he puts it, by its users. There are ways of behaving, waling around, there are casual encounters,
stories they exchange. His viewpoint was not
purely sociopolitical. It was an important
spiritual underpinning to de Certeau’s defense of public life. His close collaborator
Lussier notes that de Certeau was predisposed as she
puts it, to see wonder in everyday life by Ignatius spirituality. Everyday life including public existence is meant to be a spiritual exercise. Second essay, Walking In The City, de Certeau expresses
another favorite theme, that of resistance. Resistance to systems that
leave no room for transgression. The weak, that’s what he calls them, meaning those who
actually live in the city rather than those who administer one, find ways to make space for themselves and to express self determination. This is what de Certeau refers to as the noise or the difference. A city’s life blood without
widgets and empty shell. In de Certeau’s very powerful words, I’m not quoting him but
sort of paraphrasing him. Human gestures are what
create the city everyday. Finally in reference to the connection between physical environments and the public sphere and public virtues, the British architect,
Richard Rogers, secular Jew, In his book, Cities For A Small Planet, highlights key values that
he thinks of as spiritual. The good city should be just,
expressing social equality. Second we should promote the importance of the beautiful city. Architecture and design, as he puts it, should stir the soul and nourish us. Third, cities should be
creative offering open-minded space where people may
psychologically expand, that’s his word. Fourth, the good city
should be ecological. Balancing nature with a built environment. Fifth, for a city to be humane, it should facilitate easy contact, casual contact and also encourage social mixing. Finally, he says, the
good city is diverse. Its design should consciously speak of the value of difference. These values are especially evident in his promotion of what he
calls open-minded space, for example, city squares. He said this is ideally person centered. It should be accessible, physically, psychologically and spiritually. He uses those words. Open-minded space encourages diversity and enables creativity versus
control and constraint. Rogers grew up actually
in Florence, Italy. And he praises the Italian
custom of passa jonta, casual wandering around
in public that leads room for surprise and also celebrates, he says people’s social persona. Now values and virtues, what do I mean? There are preferences
concerning appropriate courses of action or ways of life. Our values influence our attitudes, our behavior and also
importantly the choices we make, they’re based on the sense
of what’s beneficial, desirable and constructive. Now I think values are not so
much instinctual as learned. From family, from school,
university perhaps friends and faith communities. In contemporary terms, the
notion of values is frequently linked to what we call spirituality. Modern spirituality,
whether it’s religious or secular centers precisely
on the deepest values and sense of meaning by
which people seek to live. There’s an intimate connection,
I think, between values and what is being classically
referred to as virtues, qualities that are seen as the foundation of a principled life, not
least in the public sphere. Classically, virtues
promote moral character. For Aristotle and his
ethics, virtue is about being human in the most excellent way. For the Roman Philosopher Seneca, the heart of a virtuous
life is prudence, prudencia. That is the wisdom to choose
well and to seek the maximum good rather than the
immediately satisfying. The so-called Cardinal
virtues, no doubt we’ve all heard about, first appeared
in antiquity for example, Plato and Cicero and later
adopted by Christian theology, for example, Ambrose, Augustus, Aquatus. The original fall was
seen as public virtues, prudence is the practical
wisdom to judge between appropriate and inappropriate actions. Courage embraces endurance and
the ability to confront fear. Temperance implies moderation and balance, which demands restraint. Justice stands for
faunus, virtue of faunus and to all of these were
added of course, the three theological virtues,
faith, hope and charity. The greatest of which is charactus, according to one Corinthians 13, love. Love here is non-exclusive,
universal, altruistic and concern for the
welfare of other people. Now the remainder of my
talk, I want very briefly to focus on six for me, important values or virtues in the public sphere. Community and communication,
reconciliation, hospitality, mercy,
solidarity and the common good and finally the wisdom of
discernment, discresio. The kind of Christian eventual, equivalent to prudencia of prudence. So community and communication first. The Rich Foundation for
notions of community is the New Testament word
Koinonia or communion. In the Christian theological version, every community consists of people united by bonds of mutual love. The way of describing Christian community but also wider humanity
in the image of God first appears in the first
letter to the Corinthians and implies mutual sharing. Interestingly, the Greek
root for Koinonia is koinon which precisely
means shared or common. And here I think that just make a point, there is a vital
distinction between a valid sense of particularity that
each of us is particular and distinctive and
unbalanced individualism. The two are not the same. Three crucial out-workings
of this appear in the New Testament at 1 Corinthians
12, offers an image of the Christian
community as a single body made up of different
parts and by extension, this is also a vision
of recreated humanity of which Christianity is
meant to be the exemplar. There is unity in (mumbles). There is unity in diversity. No one is dispensable. If anyone suffers, all suffer. The weakest should be treated
with the greatest care and the less respectable,
maybe the homeless are to be treated with
the greatest respect. Galatians three proclaims radical equality versus a hierarchy of status. In Christ, there is no
longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. All are one, meaning all are equal. Not everyone’s the same. And finally Philippians two,
it’s clear that the Christian community and by extension
redeems humanity exists to give itself in service of others. Now community embraces commitment and that includes building a
sense of common convictions. Sustained commitment is what is implied by that famous word vocation. This originated in Christianity, but it’s nowadays used
in non-religious context. The notion of vocation is
based on the belief that each person, each one of us
here, is endowed with gifts and talents that direct us towards a purposeful way of life
for the good of the whole. What does the vocation
of a community entail? First, to develop a sense of
purpose through cooperation. Second, to be concerned
for other people rather than merely seeking to gain
an advantage over them. This clearly overlaps with the greatest of Christian virtues, that of
charatus, or inclusive love. But community also involves communication. Recently, a senior British
psychologist whom I heard speaking on the radio,
said in his estimation, listening is the most important value in the public sphere, listening. The rule of Benedict is interesting. because it says valuable
things about listening. The opening word of the
rule is ausculta, listen. It’s an imperative. This sets the tone for how the rule approaches living together. At the heart of community lies
a commitment to listening. For this we need to learn silence which involves attentiveness to the other. Silence counteracts any tendency we may have to rush to destructive words. A word used for silence
in the rule interestingly, chapter six is (mumbles). Deep silence is literally to be (mumbles). That’s just to say it’s sparing about what I assert and how much I assert. This is the opposite of being domineering and involves keeping
your mouth firmly shut so that evil thoughts don’t come out. Interestingly, silence is one of the 13 social virtues listed by Benjamin Franklin,
you may have heard of him. The Founding Father of the
Republic in his autobiography. Benjamin Franklin kept a
checklist of virtues in a notebook against which he measured
his responses everyday. Sounds remarkably like Ignation examine of conscious or consciousness. Franklin was an interesting
mixture of Puritan religion and enlightenment Philosophy. During the occasions
when he lived in London, across the 20 years in the
mid-1750’s to the mid-1770’s, he became the founding member
of the Royal Society of Arts of which I have the honor to be a fellow. Franklin believed that our
duty was to inculcate virtue and character, not simply in ourselves but in our communities
and deity explicitly says that the new republic will only survive if its citizens are virtuous. Franklin echoes the words
of Benedict, I’m quite sure unconsciously by defining
silence, which is to say one of his 13 virtues, as
avoiding trifling conversation and speaking out only what
benefits other people. Again back to the rule of Benedict, attentive listening is also
associated with true wisdom. Listen carefully to your
fellow human beings, because this is the source
of wisdom and of discernment. Listening implies
compromise as well as giving oneself wholeheartedly to a common task. In this discipline, we may slowly be converted to a gracious heart. Reconciliation, what about that? Well to nurture a sense of human community and to heal the wounds of
division in today’s radically plural and often divided
public sphere including cities, confronts us with the
challenge of engagement with alienation and
seeking reconciliation. This is ethical in
spiritual rather than merely social, political or psychological. A challenging commitment to reconciliation is vital for human flourishing but it’s also central to Christian belief. South African theologian, John de Gruchy suggested in his Cambridge
University (mumbles) lectures that teaching on
reconciliation and I quote, the inspiration and focus of all doctrines of Christian faith. What does reconciliation mean? How does it differ from
conciliation or tolerance? Conciliation or arbitration
is associated with perhaps placating estranged neighbors
or with negotiations between employers and their workforce. This doesn’t necessarily transform
people at any deep level. Tolerance is essentially pragmatic. We learn to live alongside the other, but avoid significant
engagement with them. Living alongside was recently critiqued by the former British Chief Rabbi and philosopher Jonathan Sacks. He says, society is or
should be more than a series of hotel rooms in which
you can do what you like in your own room as long as you don’t disturb the next door room. When he was speaking very much
in favor of reconciliation. The notion of reconciliation
suggests the healing of divisions that on a
very fundamental level. An important New Testament
text is the letter to the Ephesians Chapter
two which lays out the radical nature of God’s plan for the world revealed in the teachings of Jesus Christ. We are to be a single community. In the first instance I say, this implies Christian community described
as the body of Christ. However, this doesn’t
exist for its own sake, on the contrary, as I’ve already noted Christianity’s intended to be the exemplar of renewed humanity. The world is one in God, Jews and Gentiles previously separated by
circumcision or non-circumcision. The observance or not of the law are now made into a single new people reconciled to each other by God’s action. Reconciliation isn’t bland or comfortable. It doesn’t promote and
unchallenging fuzzy consensus. Importantly, true
reconciliation is an action not an abstract value or principle. Reconciliation is always
with these people, in this place at this moment. Finally, the biblical
language we translate as reconciliation relates to
the Greek verb, allasso. Which mean to exchange. So reconciliation means,
exchanging places with the other. Learning to identify with the other, being in solidarity with the other and finally given Georgetown’s
Catholic identity, it may be worth asking what
exactly implied by the word Catholic as a key to reconciliation. It’s not a narrowly
religious word in origin, but derives from the Greek, katholikos meaning universal, which
is thought is connected to other Greek words, cataholos
in respect of the whole. So to be Catholic is the opposite of being confined to an exclusive group of people. It is anti-sectarian. (audience laughter) Well ultimately, only
God could be described as Catholic in the foresense that only God embraces the mystery of the whole. To say that humans are made
in the image of that God, implies that we’ve become
fully human only by seeking to give space to those
whom God gives space to. That is, everyone without exception. This is necessarily
open-ended process of radical and sometimes very painful transformation. So being Catholic involves being always receptive to the other, to the more. In terms of our public
lives, this is more sharply expressed through engaging with those who are unlike us including those who are perhaps even distasteful or unnerving. Now what about hospitality? Well following on reconciliation as, changing places or exchanging places. A key emphasis in the Jewish Christian scriptures is hospitality to the stranger. Something Christianity
inherited from Judaism. So in the gospels, Jesus
himself is frequently portrayed as a wanderer
without a home, Matthew eight. Dependent on the hospitality
of others, Luke nine or in the gospel of John as
the stranger in our midst. An important feature of
Jesus’s own practice, was to push his followers
away from the familiar into situations they
found very disturbing. Mark six, he forces his
disciples reluctantly, into a boat to cross the Lake of Galilee to the Gentile side, Bethsaida. In Luke eight, he heals a demoniac in the non-Jewish, some people say pagan land of the Gerasenes. In Matthew 15, Jesus in
the Land of Tyre and Sidon heals the daughter of a Canaanite woman. And in Mark eight, he feeds a multitude on the eastern non-Jewish
side of the lake. The stranger is not simply someone who is not family, kin or is unknown to us. Strangers in the scriptures embrace those who are actively excluded or despised. In the gospel of Luke, the
obligation in Jewish law to love God and love our
neighbor as ourselves is presented in a most challenging way in the parable of the good Samaritan. This answers a lawyer
who’s trying to catch Jesus out by saying, who is my neighbor? That’s Luke chapter 10. The story is familiar I’m sure to you. An anonymous, someone is
attacked by robbers on the road, stripped and left to die. It’s not clear whether this someone is a Jewish insider or a stranger, either way two religious worthies, a priest and a Levite pass by, ignore the victim and do nothing. The person whom Jesus
portrays as responding as a true neighbor is a member of the despised outcast religious sect, the Samaritans. You could imagine his listeners. Jesus is teaching on
hospitality is robust. Hospitality is to dignify someone with respectful recognition. In Luke 14, he suggests
to his host at the dinner that he should, that’s to say the host, shouldn’t just invite those
who are able to reciprocate, oh thanks for having me
for dinner this Saturday, would you like to some
for dinner next Saturday? No, but his invitation to
dine should embrace the poor, the crippled, the lame and the
blind who can not repay him. Hospitality to strangers is also an aspect to the final judgment. In the gospel of Matthew chapter 25. The criterion of God’s judgment is whether we have granted hospitality to the least. The hungry, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned. Jesus’s challenging
teaching is that these least are members of God’s family
and in welcoming them, we welcome God, but in failing to welcome them we reject God. Again a provocative
resource for reflecting on hospitality is once
again, to show that I’m very academically minded,
the rule of St. Benedict, despite my Ignation background. Chapter 53 of the rule
states that all guests who arrive should be received as Christ, excuse me for a bit of Latin. The sentence goes, and I’ll
explain why in a minute. (foreign language) For he himself will say,
God I was the stranger and you took me in, the rule
quotes that from Matthew 25. Okay, omnis, commentators note the word, omnis literally means all, but it portrays and inclusivity linked particularly to strangeness or otherness, because of the quote from Matthew, rather than simply
hospitality to one of us. Omnis supervenientes, superveniente means literally those who arrive. So anyone who arrives
should be given hospitality. It literally means those
who turn up unexpectedly. However, this is not merely
those who didn’t ring, call us on the phone to warn
us that they were coming. But those who are a
disturbing surprise to us. Close to the surface of the text is the understanding that Christians are not to be choosy about whom they welcome. Now the word hospites is
also interestingly ambiguous. Took me a long time to
find all this stuff out. It can legitimately be
translated as obviously guests hospites but it also literally
translated as strangers. The former sense of strangers
is reinforced by reference again that I mentioned to the
last judgment in Matthew 25. I was a stranger and you took me in. Finally, the word (mumbles), all who arrive are to be treated as guests like Christ (mumbles) literally means are to be received. But actually its deeper
sense is to be loved. To be cherished, the
stranger is someone who not only wired different from us but perhaps a bit cause different from us. We aren’t of value as if
they were our own family. In the rule of Benedict,
hospitality creates minimal space where those who are
other are genuinely met in socially ingrained
differences are transcended. How are we doing? Um, not too bad. So far, half an hour, is that alright? Can you cope another 10 minutes? (audience laughter) Mercy, mercy is not one of the
so-called Cardinal virtues. However, it does appear among the classic Roman public virtues. It was also the focus of the recent holy year announced by Pope Francis. What’s implied by the virtue of mercy? And how can we practice
mercy or how can practices of mercy flourish in the public sphere? Mercy often understood in
a rather kind of narrow sense, it’s forgiving the
offenses of other people. However, mercy implies far more. It’s especially at this
position to show compassion. If mercy is linked to compassion, literally to suffer with, compassio, it embraces sympathy, follow
feeling and not least, the call to offer help to those in need. From a Christian perspective the basis of mercy is that it’s a divine attribute. In the book of Exodus, chapter 34 being merciful is part of God’s identity. God freely shows mercy even to those who violated their relationship with God. Human mercy is founded
upon the nature of God. There is a realization
that humans don’t have holy autonomous rights, there
is an inherent solidarity to a human existence to
which of those who give and those who receive
share the same foundation, that is God’s fullness. Mercy also therefore involves compassion towards those who don’t
have an obvious claim on us and from whom no recompense is expected. In the gospels, the focus
is on how God’s nature of mercy demands it and
into human relations. Chapter six, Matthew,
blessed are the merciful, the Beatitudes, for they
shall receive mercy. This also relates to
chapter 18 of Matthew, forgive your brother,
sister from your heart. That is from the very core of your being. It’s not an emotional word, because in late anti-Judaism, the heart is the seat of human identity. Augustine says, go into your heart, where you are, whatever
it is that you are. It’s also where you
encounter God and the other. The highest expression of
mercy in the gospel of Luke is love of enemies and
this is possible only by conforming to God’s pattern of mercy. Be merciful as your Father is merciful. The key is that our actions
in life are to be defined, not by a sense of moral autonomy, but by experiencing
our need for the other. From this sense arises
the traditional notions of works of mercy, there’s
corporal and spiritual. Just to remind you, the corporal works again echoing the gospel
of Matthew, chapter 25 feed the hungry, give
drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, give
hospitality to the stranger, visit the sick, help
prisoners bury the dead. Before we get on to discernment
which is my last point, what about solidarity and the common good? That may sound familiar. The notion of the common good is a powerful theme in Catholic (mumbles). From Pope Leo the 13th, 1861 (mumbles). Interestingly the common
good also lies behind Pius the 11th, 1931, 40 years on. (foreign language) Which interestingly highlights the spirituality of Ignatius Loyola. As I quote, the most precious means of personal and social reform. More recently, in a 2004
document, competitive of the social doctrines of the
church in chapter four, from the Pontifical Council
of Justice and Peace, the common good indicates, I quote, the sum total of social
conditions which allow people either as groups or as
individuals to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily. Its author says, that the
common good is the goal, the goal underlined,
of human life, I quote. The common good is the good of all people, all people and of the whole person. The human person can not
find fulfillment in themself that is apart from the
faculty exists with others and for others, end of quote. Again, common good appears in Aristotle, at the heart of a good
life, a truly good life is always orientated to
what is shared with others. What’s truly good for me
rather than what feels good is inseparable from what is good for you. And what is truly good for both of us is associated with what is good for all. This isn’t merely a pragmatic arrangement that expresses something
essential about human life. This is echoed in Roman four, but then later in Christian
thought, for example in Augustine, interesting his
Monastic Rule, the (mumbles), talks about three social virtues and the third is the (foreign language), seek the common good. The pursuit of the common
ideals while honoring individual needs, Augustine’s
ideal of community or society, the common good
is the highest good of all. This is echoed by Thomas
Aquinas and (mumbles). Rights of the supreme good,
namely God is the common good since the good of all
things depends on God. But Aquinas also went
to write about cities and about the inherent
social nature of human life. Later, Ignacious Loyola is his
wider teaching on discernment expands the common good to
embrace the more universal good. So there’s more universal
good appears repeatedly in the treasured constitutions, that’s to say the Jesuit rule. As the criteria for
decisions about mission. What is the more universal good? Alright, we’re getting there. Oh yes, here we are. The concept of the common good
is particularly challenging when we think about what is the good life and what takes the good
life to advance today in radically diverse public spheres. This is where I become nervous. In this context, there’s
certain Jesuit called David Hollenbach, offers
insights based partly, but partly on the Ignacion tradition. The contemporary diverse
city is always provisional and necessary the product of multiple negotiations on the street corner. David posed this very
down to earth question, given that the achievements to solidarity is more illusive than it once was, is it even possible to recover
a sense of the common good? Can people of different
backgrounds identify aspects of the good life that
they agree are desirable? David suggests that it’s possible to go beyond the mere tolerance or otherness, however in context of diversity, seeking the common good isn’t a quick fix. What matters more than
a guaranteed outcome is the solidarity that
grows out of our commitment or to a process of making meaning. Creating values and negotiating
a common ethical stance. This process may be
amended, however David, in David’s words, this is a quote, it is a form of solidarity
because it can only occur in an active dialog of mutual
listening, interestingly and speaking across the boundaries
of religion and culture. Indeed dialog that seeks
to understand those with different visions of the
good life is already a form of solidarity even when disagreement continues to exist, end quote. Sorry about that (laughter). At this turn solidarity also
expressed in the writings of the contemporary political philosopher and Ethicist Eduardo Mendieta who incidentally trained in theology. Healing social solidarity
to the virtue of frugality in response to a growing
customer of consumerism. He suggested the greatest
human moral codes emerge from the increasing pluralism of an interdependent public
world shaped by the persistent encounter of strangers. From Mendieta, the virtue of frugality implies that we develop a public culture that doesn’t
simply enable everyone to live like the halfs
rather than the half nots. Frugality asks that we
live at a level that allows access for everyone to basic human rights, food, health, education
and a decent environment. Interestingly, Mendieta the
Protestant highlight the power of Francis the Assisi’s
spirituality of voluntary poverty and reaction to Francis’
own privileged background. And finally, discernment. Because cultivating public
values is complicated, I want to end by referring to
the importance of discernment. For me the critical virtue
is an examined life, rather than an unexamined life. In the public sphere we
continue to live in context of social and economic
inequality and dysfunction. There are no simple answers. However, Ignatius’s teaching on discernment has powerful things to say. It relates to the
practice of everyday life. And the longer Christian
tradition of discernment is very clear that discernment
applies to communities in societies rather than
just two individuals. It’s a form of wisdom as
spiritual exercises indicates. It invites us to a critical reflection on the ambiguities of our experience. Faced with choices, whether
overtly moral or not, we are prey to conflicting influences. Some of these incline us to what is good, others to what is inauthentic or flawed. But choice is the simple matter. Interestingly, it derives
from the Greek diaeresis and again Aristotle. And diaeresis or discernment
relates to his third kind of knowledge which it equals phronesis or practical wisdom. Part of Aristotle ethics
discusses human relationships contrast mere self seeking
with true self love. This is related to the
quest for true society. A fulfilled life, he says involves some degree of self giving. His practical wisdom
phronesis seeks eudaemonia. Which literally translates as happiness, however, like Ignatius Loyola’s
concept of constellation and his rules for discernment,
Aristotle’s happiness is not the same as enjoyment
or self satisfaction. Rather, it’s a way of living a reflective well directed life within society. Ignatius spirituality
pulls together in a very practical way the discernment tradition. In his principle and
foundation, the very beginning of his spiritual exercises,
the foundation of discernment is described as freedom
from disordered attachments so that we can live and choose in the light of our true purpose. The core principle is
that material things are to be used only to enable us to pursue the end for which we are created. At the heart of this
counter-intuitive vision is the virtue of
proportionality which runs counter to a culture of
endless consumer choice. Thus everyone needs to
make difficult daily choices concerning what we
use, who we associate with, the values we embrace,
the projects we undertake and the attitudes which
direct our decisions. Now you may be relieved, my conclusion. Cultivating public values,
how are they to be cultivated? And who has a role in cultivating them? It’s above all the collective
activity by citizens working together to identify
issues of common concern and making a difference in the community? Obviously this begins
with families embedded in the neighborhood, if
there’s still neighborhoods. (audience talks) Faith communities also need
to become less introspective and more society orientated. There’s an important role for education. To foster a public spirit ethos,
to nurture critical values, to provide opportunities for developing what I call public and social literacy. And finally for engendering
a notion of public service. There’s also public leadership, whether that’s institutional,
running a university, civic or even possibly political. Importantly the word
politics, let’s remember, refers essentially not to party politics or competing parties, but
to the service of the polis, the city and the politeia,
that is the citizens. Let the word service,
effective leaders from my mind are servants by enabling those they lead to serve the greater good. Wherever leadership is
situated in organizations, neighborhoods, nations, whatever, military, whatever, the
focus should ideally be on changing the world for the better. Richard Sennett talks of the difference between power and earned authority. The latter fosters collaboration
rather than rigid order. True leaders assume responsibility
rather than look after their own interests, sound familiar? Interestingly, in new versions
of workplace, business or professional spiritualties,
leadership qualities not only involve an ability
to build a collective spirit, but also include, here are
some words that I’ve been taught from people that
work in that type of world, creativity, courage and
interestingly a capacity to be inspirational that is to energize people with a sense of vision. Finally, especially in the public sphere, some critical dimensions of virtuous or values driven leadership would be authenticity, character strength, especially honesty, emotional intelligence, ie, knowing how to deal with people wisely, the absence of narcissism, that is the absence of
arrogant self absorption and finally, and here I end, being person centered rather
than systems oriented.

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