An eloquent champion for civic values, community life and charities has emerged on the Canadian scene. Cardus (see note below) is a Canadian think tank which draws, "on more than 2000 years of
Christian social thought, and works to enrich and challenge public debate
through research, events and publications, for the common good."
I've been wanting to write about them for some time. I've been a guest and co-sponsor at some of their forums and focus groups. I'm impressed with their intellectual curiosity and their willingness to tackle some of our toughest challenges with both discipline and an open mind. While they are inspired and informed by the essence of Christian values they seek to understand and apply them to issues faced by the charitable sector, our education system, cities, employment and the economy.
Their opinions are frank and clearly articulated. They don't shy away from contrary opinions including publishing vigorous criticisms of each other. And contrary to what some might assume about an organization that declares its Christian values, they have not hesitated to be among the first to criticize our federal government.
Here, for example, is an excerpt from an editorial
which urged the federal government to do more than bail out the banks and invest in bridges and highways to stimulate the economy, "…nothing is as vital to a nation in the long run as its social
architecture. Charities are not vehicles for greed, excess or profit.
They are the
products of our generosity, kindness and creativity – vital components
of a healthy society without which financial economies cannot thrive."
Change and transformation occurs in society not just by passing laws and setting priorities for funding. Civic, social, cultural, and economic flourishing also requires an ongoing reconsideration of how our
numerous social institutions relate to each other. This in turn requires a realistic understanding of how culture changes and an openness to public exchange about our most deeply held
Clayton Christensen the world's authority on disruptive innovations, suggests that all innovation is ultimately cultural. Cardus has entered into the public square of cultural renewal by illuminating the soul of our work. I predict more and more civic organizations will follow as they realize values and beliefs are integral to changing those habits and behaviors that keep us from ending inequity and environmental degradation. They can have no better example than Cardus.
Speaking of which, their current digest contains links to recent two pod cast interviews. One is with me on the topic: The World Can Be Changed. Their Director of Operations Milton Friesen. got me to reveal opinions I haven't shared in public before.
NOTE: In Roman times the cardus was a kind of marketplace or public square that took the form of a street. Typically,
it was the north-south road that connected people in Roman cities to their major public spaces.
On the cardus, government, markets, temples, and other social groups
met to establish a common life for the good of society. Many interests were represented in
this square making it necessary to balance individual needs with common needs.