In the 1960's, I had the privilege to hear the late Ivan Illich speak. He described "Conviviality" as the outcome of positive social change.
Conviviality comes from the Latin "con" (with) and "vivir" (to live). It can be described as "life-affirming fellowship between persons" (in the words of Illich back then, "getting a little tipsy together"). Illich later wrote that Conviviality is "individual freedom realized in personal interdependence and, as such, is an intrinsic ethical value".
Conviviality is a mental model that I have cherished and practiced since; my experiences with my friend Jim Hagan ("Padre Jaime") in Mexico and my wife's family in the Philippines helped foster my desire for conviviality in the world family.
The Philippine culture is preconditioned to convivialty through its practice of "hiya" (shame). This includes awareness of the feeings of others and willingness to do best for the group, leading to tolerance, openness and acceptance.
The Hispanic communities have developed the practice of hospitality wherein "mi casa es su casa" ("my home is your home").
Daniel Kahneman, author of “Thinking Fast and Slow”, in an interview on KQED FM Forum(11/7/11), identifies a relatively high level of emotional happiness in Scandanavian Countries, where economic parity is generally guaranteed for its citizenry. But the freedom from poverty isn't the sole determinant to their happiness. According to Kahneman, trust in the stranger is an important ingredient in human interaction, and positive human interaction, of course, contributes to happiness. Ariel Dorfmam, an exile from Chile during the persecutions of Pinochet, writes in "Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentan Exile", "I send out this plea, teach this incredibly simple conclusion, we must trust one another. Despite all the loss, all the betrayals, we must trust one another or we shall all, all of us, surely die."
Closely aligned with trust is empathy. Empathy goes beyond compassion. In Latin, compassion means to "suffer with" (com-patire). Empathy adds the ability to "stand in the shoes of the other" in feeling and understanding.In the e-newsletter of the Skoll Foundation, "Social Edge" of April 17, 2012, Arianna Huffington says "Empathy is the one quality we most need if we're going to survive and flourish in the twenty-first century."
Healthy conviviality encourages us to face and resolve conflicts and and establish an acceptable level of tolerance. Conflicts when left unresolved often become intrangient to change. Opinions and assumptions strongly adhered to limit the ability to dialogue. Conflict resolution that nourishes multicultural conviviality works toward win-win solutions. This is best achieved in a process that includes the arts of compromise and consensus.
When social change is not addressed in a way that alleviates the divisions that fragment society, then poverty, conflict and hunger will continue to hold hostage the global population from attaining the freedom and community that alleviate dissensions and serve the welfare of all.
Abundance Thinking and Partnership in Diversity organize the interests, energies and intentions of diverse communities towards conviviality as the outcome of social change.
Conviviality as social change not only serves the highest aspirations of the human family but is a global imperative for its well-being.