I still haven't thrown out the article I quoted from in the previous blog! It's been floating around the house as I've changed work stations depending on the different activities of each member of this family - 3 of whom are still on holidays and 2 of whom are trying to concentrate on the matters in hand!!!
This article by Jean-Pierre Denis, Editor of La Vie magazine (a current affairs magazine with a liberal Catholic philosophy) really struck me as a true representation of a certain French mentality and because it's written by a Frenchman, I feel more confident about publishing it! So you don't just hear my understanding of our French context, you hear a thoughtful analysis from the French point of view. [I've added capitals and [ ] to clarify my translation]
"The second dynamic which urgently needs to be put into action is the necessity of assuming our history, our heritage and the continuity of our values. In other words, concentrating on the idea of TRANSMISSION and not on 'dislocation'. Developing the capacity to be amazed/in awe/IN WONDER: in other words, the taste of the future which can be born through us. Transmission: the hope which nourishes the past. WONDER, TRANSMISSION: 2 strengths which hold each other up firmly. Two ways of seeing things which have been pushed to the side in a civilization in the grip of dispersed affections and competition between so many egos. Two underused resources in the [French] education system and very clearly not encouraged by our media who are so ready to deride and to be cynical/sceptical."
I have been disappointed by the French education system, finding it very negative, not teaching according to different learning abilities, favorizing academic achievement (in a little disguised system of streaming) and not all kinds of learning and career choices. And my analysis is that many of the difficulties experienced by the French are in direct relation to their quite destructive teaching methods.
Even what we value as the gift of encouragement is seen to be highly suspicious in French eyes, and my prayer has often been that Christians would understand the negative side of this culture and learn the value of encouragement. They have a lovely word which so describes God's way of looking at us: 'bienveillance': looking kindly upon, benevolent.
May we look kindly upon each other and be encouraged to live out our Christian values thus making a difference to this country.