Partnership – what it really means

Written By : BISHOP APIMELEKI NADOKI QILIHO . Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia, Vanua Levu and Taveuni Episcopal Unit Introduction During the course of my work, I have
08 Jul 2011 12:00

image Written By : BISHOP APIMELEKI NADOKI QILIHO . Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia, Vanua Levu and Taveuni Episcopal Unit

During the course of my work, I have carried out a significant amount of counseling work with people who were once in partnership having subsequently fallen out. There is a great deal of anger and animosity during the initial course of separation and this could fester and grow worse. I have always believed that these problems begin with small things (misunderstanding, unanswered queries, lack of space, dominating partner etc). Partnership is like a marriage, a joining of two people. But these individuals do carry with them strengths and weakness that must be respected. It is only when we suppress these that problems will eventuate.

Exemplifying the pitfalls
New Zealand and Australia continues to lay claim that they do have the Pacific at heart and they will work in partnership with us, ensuring that there is a stable and peaceful Pacific. They claim to be part of the Pacific family; however their actions are contrary to their claims. Most recently we have seen this through the sports field by the New Zealand government in not granting visas for our rugby boys to the Rugby World Cup, who are affiliated with the military. Since the last coup in December 2006, we have seen the banning of our people, who have military ties, to travel to New Zealand and Australia. With this polarized position, we the people of Fiji would like to ask the New Zealand and Australian government what they have achieved by such a policy.
Solidarity within the military force remains and they appear more united than ever. We are economically stable and continue to grow. Law and order seems to be improving, healthcare is provided, children are travelling to schools, etc. The people of Fiji have gone on with their lives, having accepted the things that have happened. Within the communities, we have seen the common people living as one, speaking the same languages, fighting for business as usual, playing sports, more inter-marriages and also travelling together in public transportation. It is only when we come to the public arena that we see politicians highlighting issues of human rights, good governance and leadership, polarising positions on the race card because of their individual vested interests, and this also applies to organisations and non-government organisations.
We continue to see post modern thinking and ideas being implemented thorough programmes like good governance and leadership, trade, human rights, climate change and HIV/AIDS through regional organisation like the Forum Secretariat and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. We continue to allow these thoughts and ideas to filter through to our people. The most frightening thing is that financial resource is used as a barometer to ensure adherence. The very sad thing for us is that the local people continue to engage themselves through their employment with social issues that affect our people by promoting post modern ideology (some claim to be Western) just because of the financial resources that they have to offer, that we do not have.
By accepting their resources, we have compromised our position and independence by allowing them to dictate the way we should do things and conduct our lives in the Pacific. This is another form of colonialism and it contradicts all the principles of human rights that they seem to be promoting. First we had the influx of the white man in the Pacific, and then we had Christianity. Today, we have globalisation that has very little respect for any one’s tradition and culture. Where is the social justice in all this?
We must promote the richness of our culture and traditions because they are in fact basic norms for human rights, good governance and leadership and the sanctity of our family as the basic unit within our societies. The words may not be the same but this was contextualised within a set time frame and considered relevant at that time and place. We are not assuming that all was okay, but we believe that changes must occur where there is a need to undertake these changes as it is evolving in nature. But the changes must come from the people themselves, not enforced changes. All we can do is to educate our people to make choices that are relevant.
This is what social justice and responsibility is all about. I do not think that people value charity and dependency. Most of us in the Pacific, who are Christians, contextualise this to the story of teaching about charity in Matthew 6: 1-4. Social justice and responsibility is all about empowering the people to make decisions that affect the way they live their lives. Empowerment should then lead to participation – where people are involved in influencing the decisions which affect their own development. Participation should then lead to effective change in society. Changes come from within, not externally and at their own time and pace.

For us Christians, we draw our inspiration of partnership from the family life of our Lord. All religions have their own tenets and ethos, which they can draw. It is all about having equal respect and doing unto others what you would like them to do to you. The principles of any organisation are built on the personal, and then it becomes professional. As stated by Vaclav Havel: “The salvation of the human family lies nowhere else than in the human heart… the only backbone to our actions, if they are to be moral, is responsibility and respect”. The very same principles apply be they personal or professional; after all, organisations are built on the people they employ.

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