Week 13: Chair’s Blog – Culture and Values

What makes you happy, sad or angry? We’re not all wired the same and different experiences in our lives are responsible for generating the emotions we feel at different times. It’s been said that anger is really a secondary emotion or deep-rooted sadness that has had nowhere to go. In many ways, it’s just a consequence of things not turning out the way we would like in an ideal world – our views of an ideal world being driven by our own values and expectations.

Speaking personally, I know I’ve had to come to terms with a lot of things not materialising as I had hoped they would. I believe in honesty and openness but also hard work, punctuality and consideration for others and our environment. I dislike waste (the Womble in me!), violence, greed and entitlement. And whilst I believe in having an eye for detail and seeking to get things right first time, particularly when delivering public services, I’ve also grown to realise that trial and error is part of everyday life. Taking risks and learning from mistakes is important too. This weekly blog is an experiment after all!

Our values often start with our upbringing and our parents. Last year, when I first separated from my wife, I spent several months living close by with my mother and then again later in the year when she was ill for a period. I discovered where a lot of those values had taken root, and it was quite an eye-opener.

I can’t say I’ve always been quite the honest chap I try to be now – indeed about 15 or 16 years ago there was a period when I definitely lost my compass – a story for another time perhaps. But I know now that dishonesty triggers quite a strong reaction in me, which I have to manage, particularly when I see deliberate fake ‘news’.  Personal values can and do change over time – sometimes.

Our beliefs in what is right and wrong colour everything we do.  Sometimes we get that sixth sense that something is wrong, and we feel that we have to act on it. Change over time only happens as a consequence of people standing up for their values and seeking to make that change.

Some people are driven by a spiritual faith to do so. I can’t claim to be religious myself, so won’t be celebrating Easter in the same way as some others this weekend, but as I grow older, I have sought to better understand the motivations and sources of some of those belief systems. And like so many others, it particularly appals me when I see people killing one another, as has been happening in Gaza, where one of the root causes behind the conflict is two different belief systems.

That is why I was so pleased to hear locally about the inter-faith walk which is scheduled to take place on 13 April covering the Fazl London Mosque, Wimbledon Synagogue, Buddhapadipa Temple, St Marys (C of E) Church and Shree Ghanapathy Hindu Temple along with other faith sites. Details can be found here. Registration costs £5 and the proceeds are going to the Merton Homeless Project run by Faith in Action. It starts at Wimbledon Station at 11am. I plan to attend the walk.

Whilst some belief systems may conflict, some values are able to rise above that in the name of our common humanity.  Dotted all over the Wimblecomm site and indeed other websites across the borough, there are numerous examples of organisations and groups that are seeking to embrace that common humanity.

One group yet to join (reminder on the way!) that we came across at our AGM at Canons, is the wonderfully named Little ARK – Acts of Random Kindness

Through the process of investigating my own values I’ve begun delving into my own family roots.  Coincidentally I recently came across the descendants of one of the original founders of the Wimbledon Community Association, Cyril Black. There are some noticeable differences between us but there are also some common elements which I will explore next time.

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