Going back to the Wilberforce model we see that those that gathered as the Clapham Sect were not just talking about ideals – they were looking for concrete, real changes
Most people are realistic as well as idealistic. But do we find that utopian ideals creep into our hopes and dreams? Yes, we do! We all have an idea of what utopia looks like – for ourselves or for the place where we live. There are utopian elements to all our dreams. But do we really know what this imagined state of perfection would look like? We often find it easier to define politics, systems and formulas than to commit to unpredictable, shape-defying human interaction?
In the New Testament Jesus is not prescriptive about action and outcomes. He doesn’t tend to say ‘Do this … and this will happen.’ We know that Jesus responded to practical needs but he also taught ‘ideals’: in Jesus’s life and teaching we see flesh and blood (real) human relations, imagined (ideal) human relations, and the meeting place of these two in the potential for transformation.
Jesus’s ideals were not a political system, but guidelines for how people should interact with each other. In the Sermon on the Mount we receive a model for holistic, healthy human relationships that includes value, creational enterprise, growth, cultivation and development.
So through the City to City network we are saying:
- we’re not looking for a formula or prescription for change (prescriptiveness can crush local adaptations);
- through our conversations and networks we want to inspire a set of ideals that are worth building our lives upon;
- we believe that concrete changes are not monoliths but come through the scattering (and joining together again) of the seeds of ideas;
- when we are rooted in these ideals, we will have a massive impact on our cities.