Faith leaders from across the spectrum were invited earlier this month by to help build Britain as a “community of communities”. This echoes the famous BBC Reith Lectures given by the late Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks in 1991. Community is a home where families relate to one another as shared beings, helping support one another in building a peaceful society. A community of communities therefore extends family to wider and wider circles of tolerance, respect and mutuality. It is peace built from the ground up.
Unfortunately, modernity has been relentlessly attacking society, community and even family. The subject and disciplines of economics, finance and accounting are prime examples of this attack, where individualism and materialism are celebrated and is deemed unnecessary or limiting of personal choice and freedom. Private interest has replaced public interest with devastating consequences for family and community.
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Sadly, the science of economics has become a modern religious faith where young people get converted at the altar of universities, in the name of science. Even in the desperate challenges posed by the crisis, economics and politics fail to unshackle the obsession with human well-being at any cost. They are deeply anthropocentric.
Communities can never be taken for granted. Just as a tree requires the sun, soil and rain to nourish it, so do communities need volunteers, leaders and venues where people can come together and experience the joy of interdependence. Have you ever observed at a community event? They spring to life, feeling overjoyed by the unity and diversity. During the Navratri festival this week, we are reminded of the circles of unity, equality and colour central to our faith celebrations.
Sadly, today young parents have little time for giving to community, and often struggle to cope with the pressures of modernity, careers and raising a private family. There is constant movement, distance and displacement, especially in the West. Corporations make jobs insecure and mobile, and double careers require each parent to travel long distances to work. We should all beware such tensions and avoid individualist and materialistic pressures which destroy community.
often provides a key intangible glue for community building. It can also become a source of tension as we are seeing in the influenced by fake news and violent gangs. However, the importance and resilience faith and community give in society is so critical that one of his first acts as King was to call upon the leaders and to encourage them to build tolerance and harmony. We need to salute and respect such dynamic and visionary leadership. Let’s all do our bit to restore and nourish communities wherever we live. It is the best example we can give our children and a key to sustainable co-existence.
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 teaches and writes about Indian wisdom on business, culture and community at various UK universities and is a renowned international author, speaker and broadcaster.