Starting from relationships suggests a different set of values that can be shared by a wide range of people irrespective of their religious or political views – because relationships are so fundamental to all human life. These are the values of the Relational Thinking Network:
We recognize that human beings gain identity, meaning and wellbeing only in the context of their relationships
Individuals tend to flourish when their relationships are good. Societies tend to flourish when their institutions enable relationships which are close, durable and fair enough to generate important relational assets like trust and loyalty.
Where such “relational infrastructure” exists, a society will more effectively balance liberties with obligations, competition with cooperation, diversity with unity, privacy with transparency, rights with responsibilities, innovation with continuity, and individuality with community.
Relational Thinking also places a priority on values that sustain relational infrastructure, including forgiveness, reconciliation, and the teaching of relational skills.
Relational Thinking is committed to a process of peaceful reform based on a fuller and more realistic view of what human beings are: not simply individuals, but individuals dependent on, and fulfilled through, their relationships.
Relational Thinking is inspired by the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and provides a point of agreement on social and economic progress between people of different faiths and none.
Members of the Relational Thinking Network have specific goals aimed at transforming society through their organizations:
1. Using money and other resources, and by structuring financial systems – to foster healthy commercial, social and international relations.
Finance shapes relationships in many ways, for example through the impact of debt, capital flows, investment and spending patterns. Ownership involves responsibilities, and resources should be used in ways that strengthen relationships rather than undermining them.
2. Influencing organizations to think and act relationally – to uphold a social environment in which relationships thrive.
Relationships can be fostered or undermined by the policies and actions of governments, as well as by those of public and private sector organizations. The strategy, structure, culture and working practices of an organization should be conducive to the flourishing of relationships, both within that organization and in wider society.
3. Supporting family networks – for the love, support and welfare of the individual.
Stable family life benefits adults and children in terms of both emotional and practical support. Families have a wide range of care and welfare responsibilities, particularly for children, partners and elderly relatives. The extended family has a vital role in supporting marriage and the nuclear family, and as a mediating institution between individuals and the state.
4. Enabling personal and family rootedness – to build strong communities.
Rootedness involves developing a sense of belonging and practical involvement – in cities, towns and neighbourhoods. Rootedness is important for personal wellbeing, for access to support networks, and for the ability to participate fully in community life.
5. Encouraging a shared national culture – to foster inclusion and cohesion.
Cohesion and inclusion cannot flourish without a shared culture which embraces diversity and includes respect for liberty of conscience.
6. Focusing on justice and reconciliation – as the basis for achieving peace and social harmony.
This applies to personal, corporate, regional, ethnic and international relationships. Building peace requires encouraging reconciliation, restoring relationships, and addressing the many factors that contribute to their breakdown.
7. Ensuring that political power and economic assets are widely spread – to promote accountability and community development.
Decision making at a distance, as well as financial dependence, tend to inhibit responsiveness to local needs as well as responsibility for addressing them. However, the desire for greater local responsibility can be in tension with concern for ensuring quality and equity at a wider level. So, where decisions or controls need to be located at higher levels, this should be done in ways that support local capacity and responsibility.
8. Fulfilling responsibilities – particularly to those who are disadvantaged relationally and/or materially.
Rights must be balanced by responsibilities. People are responsible both for their own relationships and for the impact of their actions on others. Relational deprivation is as serious as material deprivation, and there is a particular duty to care for those who lack supportive relationships.
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