• Guest Blog: Community at Christmas-time by Robin Jackson

    by  • 8 December 2016 • Camphill Community, Non Fiction, Religion, The Christian Community • 4 Comments

    With Christmas fast-approaching, the festive season is a suitable time to reflect on the bonds of love and friendship within our communities. Co-editor of Community Care and Inclusion, Robin Jackson, reflects on this in our guest blog.

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    Co-editing Community Care and Inclusion has proved a rewarding personal experience for many reasons. Its publication, just before Christmas, is opportune since this is the time when people come together in various communal groupings, whether as family members or as friends or as colleagues. This coming together is an expression of the binding power of friendship.

    jacksoncommunity-care

    However, as John Macmurray notes, friendship should not be equated with a disposition to friendliness. Friendliness is only an imitation of friendship and a poor substitute for the real thing. Friendship is the social cement that binds individuals and communities together. The most important feature of that relationship is its reciprocity and unconditionality, which dispenses with all notions of those giving and those receiving care.

    A relationship based on mutuality is a relationship of equals, in which each learns from the other. It’s this form of mutual friendship that provides the cohesive force binding together the different elements of a community. It’s the mortar without which any communal edifice would collapse. Acceptance of this model presents a challenge to the quality of relationships that are found in the many artificial forms of community care provided by local authorities and for profit care companies.

    Contributors to the book are drawn from throughout the world, reflecting the fact that issues addressed relating to the meaning of ‘community care’ and ‘inclusion’ are universal, not parochial. I was heartened by the very positive and immediate responses by those invited to contribute to the book who, like me, recognise the urgency in bringing this topic into the professional and public spheres.

    This book is timely in an age when there appears an increasing emphasis on what divides us rather than what we have in common. Indisputably, the last three decades have witnessed the neglect by the political classes of many neighbourhoods and communities in this country, resulting in significant numbers of people feeling disenfranchised and disenchanted. Social media provides an all too easily accessible channel for people to express their resentment and anger often in intemperate ways, something that was impossible ten years ago. What is disturbing is the growing evidence of the creation of an intolerant climate, in which the needs of people with an intellectual disability and their families are increasingly ignored.

    Ha Vinh Tho Program Director, Gross National Happiness Centre, Bhutan

    Ha Vinh Tho Program Director, Gross National Happiness Centre, Bhutan

    Ha Vinh Tho’s chapter, arguing convincingly that the neo-liberal economic ideology which controls all aspects of Western societies is now obsolete, should be recommended reading for Western politicians. Tho argues for the adoption of a radically new approach that is long overdue. He highlights the contribution of the Camphill Movement, which over the decades has shown how innovative social reforms can be realised in living practice and where the rights and needs of the individual are honoured and celebrated.

    At Christmas-time we have a poignant reminder of a young family who, two millennia ago, experienced exclusion and rejection firsthand. Crucially, in Christian theology charity is seen as the greatest theological virtue. But for Thomas Aquinas charity should not be simply equated with love but rather with friendship. What current policy and practice in the field of community care reveals is a conspicuous lack of charity. Time for change.

    Robin Jackson is the co-editor of Community Care and Inclusion, published 24th November 2016.

     

     

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