In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

Riding the Hyphen – but to what effect ?


I run a small charity called Hyphen-21 and January can be an anxious month, with accounts and reports needed by the Charity Commissioners no later than the 31st. But I actually enjoyed writing the report this year. It clarified a few ideas and its overview brought out some pattern and coherence to what usually just feels a lonely scattering and confusion of effort, effort too often thwarted. Here is a quote from the report I quite like :

“The charity Hyphen-21 is founded on the proposition that community not merely exists and matters, but a healthy and inclusive community is essential to each individual’s welfare, meaning and survival. By definition, community means relationship and connection. Therefore, if community is to survive, the skills of creating and maintaining relationship and connection have to be of central interest and in confident and widespread operation. The very title of this charity refers to the hyphen which connects I to Thou (from the theologian Martin Buber’s book “I and Thou.” It contrasts two polar modes of relating to Other – The mode “I-It”  and the mode “I-Thou”). Maybe, in a rushing world, the only solid ground that remains to us is the precarious slash that joins Me to Thee. This is where we have to build.

“Even naming the skills of connection  is hard, but practising them is harder still. For now, let us just say that they start from the principle that You are no less the centre of the universe than I am. The Universe speaks through you as crucially and as miraculously as it speaks through me. Therefore we need to attend to each other with some care, if not awe. The future of at least this part of the Universe may depend on how well and truthfully we make connection.”

You can read the rest of the report here (seven sides of A4. Easy). And if you have time, go here and here as well.

“Here” number two is refered to in the report. It’s a short article, a slightly shorter version of which was published almost exactly a year ago by the magazine “OpenMind” (now sadly defunct, I’ve just heard). It was a piece that I really had to screw myself up to write and I took months and months over it. It was a real relief to have said it out and I waited in trepidation for the storm I thought (and perhaps half-hoped) might follow. But not a ripple. Not a whisper.

“Here” number three is perhaps even angrier. And only a bit longer. And certainly as carefully thought through and – in my opinion – even more urgently significant.

Both pieces have been up on the Hyphen-21 website for nearly a year. And not a ripple of reaction. Not a whisper.

What am I doing wrong ?