We are convinced that personal and social well-being depends upon the quality of relationships within families and communities, and within and between organisations. Drawing our inspiration from the Judeo-Christian tradition, especially its understanding of personhood, we believe that building a society that sustains relationships requires recognising the importance of:
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.
Personal and family rootedness – to build strong communities. Rootedness involves developing a sense of belonging and practical involvement – in cities, towns and neighborhoods. Rootedness is important for personal wellbeing, access to support networks, and for the ability to participate fully in community life.
A shared national culture – to foster inclusion and cohesion. A shared culture which can embrace diversity and includes respect for liberty of conscience is needed to support both cohesion and inclusion.
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.
The wide spread of political power and economic assets – to promote accountability and community development. Distant decision making and financial dependence can inhibit both responsiveness to local needs and responsibility for addressing them. The desire for greater local responsibility can be in tension with the concern for ensuring quality and equity at a wider level. Where decisions or controls need to be located at higher levels, this should be done in ways that support local capacity and responsibility.
The use of money and other resources, and the structuring of 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.
Influencing organizations to think relationally – to uphold a social environment in which relationships thrive. Relationships can be fostered or undermined by government, and by public and private sector organizations’ policies and actions. 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.
Fulfilling duties – particularly to those who are disadvantaged either relationally or materially. Rights must be balanced by duties and obligations. 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.