Background

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T.S. Eliot’s line “humankind cannot bear very much reality” rings true down the centuries and resonates across this web-site. But the more we shrink from our reality, acting in flight from it or defiance of it, the more we fail in our duty and threaten the future of our race and our world.

Hyphen-21 takes the position that in the blur and astonishment of the 21st century, the pressure to deny, dogmatise, detach and atomise is especially intense and often over-powering. Out on the edge, wait many forms of regressive fundamentalism, offering escape but also further chaos.

At such a time, whatever connects person to person, I to Thou, is a vital matter – firm ground where none other exists. To survive, we have to make both precious and secure the space between us.

But in this time of extraordinary flux and danger, new connections and bindings have continually to be found, new ways of making and securing community, and securing the individual within community.

Here is some background material, exploring these thoughts further and offering different ways of explaining the origins, meaning and spirit of Hyphen-21.

The papers on “Context” and “Principles and Purpose” were written in the early days of the charity, but are still pertinent. The “What is Hyphen-21 ?” paper was written in Autumn 2007 and includes a brief history of the charity.

The Fables were selected from a larger total written at different times over a period of fifteen years. They seem as relevant now as they did then. Perhaps even more so.

The poem-sets were written at much the same time as the charity itself was conceived and in many ways feel part and parcel of its meaning.

The last item is a Statement of Values for the charity. Initially it was included in its annual Director’s Reports.

Finally here, please read the following words spoken by the late David Jenkins in a speech he gave in 1988. In those days he was still the Bishop of Durham (“the Red Bishop”) and was addressing an audience made up of social workers. In those days too, social work itself felt better founded and more self-confident as an occupation than it has become since. Whatever the case, I believe the Bishop’s words apply beyond the social work role to all occupations concerned with social responsibility and care for others :

“Social workers are a group of people who are being called upon to live dangerously at many of the pressure points in our present confused, confusing and increasingly divided society. As such you are the objects of, and therefore presumably in your own persons and reflections the subjects of, a great deal of confusion, anxiety and uncertainty. Your position is highly ambivalent and ambiguous and therefore both actually painful now and potentially promising with regard to the future of our society and, indeed, of human beings on this earth.”