Foundations of Co-

Photo: Clay Banks (Unsplash)

The
Landscaper’s
Notebook

13 February 2021

My life’s raison d’être is shaped by my experience of radical hospitality – when someone has gone out of their way to include or empower me.

The purpose of radical hospitality is to achieve outcomes that begin with ‘co-’.

Co-design
Cooperation
Coexistence
Collaboration
Community
Conviviality…

The ultimate outcome of ‘co-’ is empowerment and richer, deeper lives – what I call ‘human flourishing’ – at every level – individual, familial, corporate, societal, national and global.

Photo: C. Valdez  (Unsplash)

The practice of radical hospitality is the mechanism or the platform by which each of these ‘co-’ categories may be achieved.

Successful outcomes result from choosing a consistent lifestyle of radical hospitality.

Episodic displays of hospitality, while they may be polite or politically correct, often betray hidden fears, prejudices, motives and agendas. Over time, such displays do not build trust, essential for honest communication, but create unhealthy wariness and cynicism.

Radical hospitality involves putting aside one’s own beliefs and agendas to make space for the other to explore their own. It can never be a debate or an argument. It is a freely offered gift, of service to others. It allows space for the other to be responsible for their own life.

The symbol of radical hospitality is a smile and open arms. 

The first element of radical hospitality, and the initiation of ‘Co-’ initiatives, invariably begins with invitation. 

The decision to live a lifestyle of hospitality is a risky decision to live vulnerably; to risk being turned down or taken advantage of.  

To nurture this lifestyle demands nurturing one’s own resilience and to practice being at peace within oneself. (This does not mean absence of problems, pain or suffering, but coming to terms with them.)

The ethics of hospitality are found within the best of time-honoured religious traditions. For example, Chapter 13 of St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church is often read at weddings to point toward the ethics for successful marital relationships, though they were written as universal principles.

The reward of radical hospitality is friendship and mutuality.

The scope of radical hospitality is to create relational, social, emotional, intellectual, religious and physical space.

The enemy of hospitality is fear. Fear creates suspicion and the pain of exclusion.

The mindset of fear is scarcity, which underlies self-interest, self-centredness and (often passive-aggressive or aggressive) controlling authoritarianism and violence.

The antidote to fear is love. Radical hospitality is the platform for love.

The hospitality industry has commodified elements of radical hospitality, reducing it to commerce.

Hospitals create space for healing. Insofar as hospitals are now seen to belong within the health industry, they too have become more commodified at the expense of creating the time and space for radical patient-centred, holistic care.

To the extent that Western cultures are dominated by consumerism, playing into the hands of commercial commodification, some migrant cultures, closer to the foundations of Co-, offer some hope for Co- renewal.

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