Joy, connectedness, autonomy, meaning, growth, identity, security – all these domains of wellbeing were given a new meaning through the recent visit of Dr. Al Power and Carol Ende of The Eden Alternative Home Office (aka “The Mothership”). A new language and better understanding of the depth of organisational transformation and the true power of relationships transpired as we travelled through the southern part of South Africa. Yes we saw Eland, Blesbok, baboons, ostriches, whales, dolphins and even some scary spiders, but connected through the spirit of togetherness and lots of hearty South African wines.
For us here in South Africa, the presence of Al and Carol alone (and of course many others who attended the South African Care Forum festival) was already such a privilege, but spending quality time with them truly deepened our understanding and insights into the philosophy of Eden. The challenges are universal, as are the solutions. However, it seems that Eden itself is growing an ever deeper psychological connectedness to the sacredness of the human spirit, and that it has long moved beyond simply (sic) creating a life worth living for Elders in Care Homes. Eden is transforming itself – knowingly or unknowingly – to create a new civil society, where the right to citizenship of all role players (Elders, Care Partners, Families, broader community) are becoming the focal point on the world stage.
Our new language of the domains of wellbeing is deepening the understanding beyond the ten principles. It transcends cultures, politics and economic realities, borders and languages to create a new discourse in the lifecourse agenda. The paradigm shift is now taking on a new dynamic where the complexity is challenged by the simplicity, and often vice versa.
If this discourse can be so successful at the most southern tip of Africa, it means that a truly universal philosophy has been created. It has grown beyond the borders of the USA, permeating the very essence of the universal need for caregiving and goodness, kindness, love for all, detachment, relatedness, equanimity, acceptance and wisdom (to name of few of the new goals that Nader Shabahangi refers to).
The journey of Al and Carol to South Africa served as a reminder of our duty to grow our passionate belief in making a difference, to re-visit our ideals and dreams, to become true activists and advocates for a better world for all. Eden should not be the “alternative” – it is indeed the only way. We should consider this new reality – maybe it is time to stop striving to this ideal and realise that we have arrived in many ways, and that this is becoming the main stream philosophy, and not the alternative. Maybe we should go even deeper, making sure that our philosophy is no longer “just” a philosophy, but that is the essence of creating purpose and meaning, transforming the ageist views of the whole world.
In a global society, it is our dream that Eden will keep on crossing borders, constantly re-inventing itself, engaging, networking and transforming. We hope that with the help of the Home Office we will be able to develop “learning and growth” centers, where we can contract Elders to teach as the experts, to help us to understand the complexity of creating authentic relationships in an environment that is so prone to alienation. It is our dream to develop this as a first of its kind in South Africa, where we are not paralyzed by legislation, where innovation is alive and buzzing and where the unique African spirit can be unleashed through recognizing the spiritual connectedness of all.
Let us grow this – together.