Our perception of our work and our notion of security is also, in part, a product of our inner beliefs and values. Who we are and our perspective on the world fuels and directs our activism and underpins how we go about our work. It also informs our approach to security. Inner beliefs and values can be a valuable asset in helping us to maintain focus, stay safe, and build resilience, whether these values are religious or spiritual, atheistic, based on family or community.
Our beliefs are often deeply personal and we might hesitate to name them within the group or in front of our colleagues, even in situations where it is these very beliefs which collectively drive us in our mission. However, it's important to create a safe shared space to be open about these aspects of ourselves. Ideally, we can achieve in an environment in which our personal beliefs are respected, and we show the same respect and encouragement for other peoples' sources of inspiration and resilience, where they differ from ours.
Collective openness regarding our beliefs fosters a culture of respect, understanding and closer working relationships among colleagues, and can alleviate division, tension and mistrust. It can be easy to assume that because you and your team or co-workers are working toward a common goal, that your beliefs are the same. This is not necessarily the case and we can understand each other better if we take the time to know and understand each others' personal beliefs.
To create a healthy working environment, the space where we work needs to be open and respectful, wherein each person feels able to share the values which inspire them in a way which does not lead to judgement, arguments or dogma, but rather fosters solidarity, mutual respect and learning. In the context of adopting a holistic approach to security, we should explicitly make space for this sharing, in order to recognise the diverse values which inspire us, and help us build resilience and continue working in the face of danger.
Faith and cultural practices as a source of connection or division
As much as faith and cultural practices can be a unifying or connecting factor within a team, they can also become the opposite. If minority practices are discouraged, for example by scheduling meetings during prayer times, or creating an atmosphere of 'us and them', they can become a divisive force. This negatively impacts not only those who are marginalised, but the entire group.
Looking at wider society, faith and cultural practices could form a unifying (and perhaps strategically useful) connection between you and the society you want to transform. However, it could also become a divisive factor, which separates you from the 'others', and could be exploited to stigmatise or target you.
For a closer look at these connecting and dividing factors, and how you can impact them, read about the Do-No-Harm Approach in Section III | Strategise.