Throughout these days there has been virtually no public criticism of the United States. This is remarkable given its long history of interference in Latin American affairs. However, I think most people here recognize that there is a need for honest conversation and I have appreciated the opportunity over meals to at least begin to hear some of the feelings beneath the surface. Hopefully these days will have created the trust that will make that more difficult conversation possible.
This morning we worked in small groups to identify some important focus areas for IofC over the next five years. Among them:
- Collaborative, sustainable, and replicable models of reconciliation and social justice focused on key issues. This might also involve partnerships with like-minded organizations whose goals are aligned with our strategic vision.
- Reconciliation with the earth. In the spirit of IofC we must start with ourselves. We also need to develop a new language of spirituality appropriate for today's world.
- Ability to have internal dialogue within the IofC Americas network and also to promote constructive public dialogue on critical issues.
- Trustbuilding between Latin America and the United States; and also between and within the countries of Latin America around issues of class and the indigenous people. In this context there is also a need to address Issues of identity.
- Capacity building in such areas as project management, funding, increased human resources, and communications.
Wednesday - Final day
A commitment to support each other
Perhaps this statement by Fabiola Benavente Mancilla from Mexico, sums up better than anything the spirit of the Encuentro of the Americas which closed this morning.
I am writing this on the bus back to Bogota, trying to digest all we have experienced over the past four days.
Coming from 11 nations of the Americas and Caribbean, the group has left with a commitment to support each other despite the challenge of distance. Pilar Griffith is starting a "cyber quiet time group" and plans to work on a manual on "how to start a team" using her own context of Costa Rica as a pilot. Another group plans to work on ideas on how to build bridges of trust between generations in IofC and to support transitions to younger leadership.
We are also looking at how to make existing resources more widely available. Some Colombian friends are expressing ideas to translate my book Trustbuilding into Spanish.
I was particularly interested in a group that discussed ideas to align business models with social and spiritual change. The goal would be to develop values-based businesses that provide goods or services that generate income to support IofC workers.
Of course the "elephant in the room" at such meetings is the US-Latin America relationship. As I noted in a previous blog, this gathering was notably free of recrimination. However, Rodrigo Martinez Romero from Mexico and I and others have agreed to start a working group dedicated to seeking ways, in partnership with other organizations, to heal the relationship and build new partnerships for the future.