Saturday, August 20, 2011

Spiritual Well-being as part of Cultural Well-being

…culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual, and emotional features of society or a social group, and…it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs  ( UNESCO 2001)

In 2009, working with the Bishop’s Action Foundation in New Plymouth, I conducted a series of 40 interviews with Older New Zealanders asking them about their spiritual well-being, what they believed spirituality means and how they used their spirituality in times of trouble.

The full research can be seen at  

What was obvious was for most of those interviewed there was a clear difference between Spirituality and Religion.   Spirituality was often about family, community, nature and the environment, music and the arts.   For some it was about Religion, but that was the minority.

Even those who used prayer in times of difficulty, often also walked on the beach, in the country and listened to music when things became stressful.

This research has not been followed by research on spirituality of young people.  We just couldn’t get funding.   This is very sad as watching the London Riots and listening to young people, I am increasingly sure that we need to help the younger generation to understand ‘spirituality’ and how that spirituality could enable them to see the world as being something to be treasured and to enhance their value of their lives and community.

The young people in England who are rioting are in many cases ‘middle class’.    What have the learnt about the world?  Have we shared the beauty of the world and nature?  Have we taught them to appreciate and be awed by nature?  Have the learnt to love being with family and friends on a beach or park or with a picnic?  Have they learnt to appreciate things that cost nothing?   Have they ever been taught to really look at what is happening around them? 

Some of the commentators are talking about values, but culture is more than values.   Culture is about History, Belief, Values and the rituals that enable us to connect with each others.   So is the discomfort of the young people about disconnection with their cultures and with that disconnection with spiritual well-being.

No comments:

Post a Comment