Monday, 4 May 2009

Think local, act global for a spirituality of resistance

Dr B blogged at Holy Disorder all last week while travelling around central Germany to various events marking the 20th anniversary of some of the events that led to the peaceful revolution in the GDR. It's fun for me to see his doctorate reduced to blog posts in this way but it is also in many ways a spiritual journey. Visiting the past in this way is quite a challenge, it also moves me in ways beyond words.
One of the posts last week reported on Heino Falcke's reflections on the ongoing relevance of the conciliar process for justice, peace and the integrity of creation in building up civil society today as it did 20 years ago.
The post ends with this:
If 20 years ago what made the texts of the Ecumenical Assembly in the GDR so powerful was the local relevance of the global issues, maybe now it's necesary to look at things the other way round - not so much "Think Globally, Act Locally" - but "Think locally, Act Globally."

Since reading that I've been trying to reflect on how this can feed in to a spirituality for people working at the international level, we who are so often torn out of our local contexts and rather rootless. And of course one of the problems in the post modern world is that we are all keen to tell our stories of what works "chez nous" at the local or national level, but these stories of local success or failure are often difficult to translate to other contexts. In my cynical difficult European way I get a little wary of some stories that seem too pre-packaged and home-spun. Then I thought of the Brazilian bishop who went on hunger strike to raise his deep concern about government plans to divert a river and how he managed to mobilise opinion and support far away from the context, though vigilance and resistance is still very much needed. So perhaps the paradigm for international spirituality and engagement has changed - or perhaps the paradigm for an internationally engaged spirituality was always in the backwards and forwards interplay between local and global - (I think that is what those German philosophers call a dialectic!).

As the year progresses Holy Disorder will also carry more about Heino Falcke, his theology was in so many ways the underpinning for the GDR's peaceful revolution.
In the meantime what are you doing to think locally and act globally?