AGM Declaration 2019 – Telling truth, changing lives
“Then you will know the truth
and the truth will set you free”
– John, 8:32
On the occasion of its Annual General Meeting, Eurodiaconia members wish to address the question of truth in our societies in response to the emerging political, social and economic uncertainties in Europe, related to the variance of narratives. Our joint response is based on our common hope and our willingness to act together. We also share the commitment to be truth tellers and truth protectors towards the people we serve, as well as in our advocacy work. Therefore, we agreed to commit ourselves to telling the truth and always being reliable and trustworthy partners for people in need, as well as for decision makers:
Truth builds trust, which forms a basis for collective life in society. However, recognising what is true from what isn’t remains a challenge. Its resolution depends on the proper understanding of several aspects of truth. First, there can be several perspectives about one single truth, which mostly provide incomplete versions of the truth. Secondly, truth needs general approval, which often builds on verifiable facts.
The increased range of available information should allow us to develop an informed opinion and promote a culture of dialogue, respect and understanding towards different perspectives and opinions. Instead, its constant flow in times of “fake news” through mass and social media is often overwhelming and misleading. Moreover, algorithms in digital media make us see more of the same, creating echo chambers, hindering open-mindedness and diminishing trust.
In addition, we observe a growing disenchantment of the general public, not only towards the media, but also towards public institutions and political processes at national and European level. This is often evidenced by an increasing disengagement from traditional social actions and discourse, turning instead to populist narratives, which threaten to fragment political systems and the values underpinning our societies even further.
Churches and civil society organisations are at risk of being perceived as being part of this system which, for many, is not trustworthy anymore.
We believe that there is hope in every situation and our shared faith invites us to share that hope through mutual actions of love and care. In practice, this means acknowledging people’s dignity while listening to their needs and having the courage to speak out on their behalf. Hope is a starting point for justice, equality and inclusion and our fundamental message. But hope needs truth.
Our common, Christian faith gives us a concept of truth. We recognize that, when in doubt, the truth is in God and in the message of Christ, when He says, “I am the way and the truth and the life (…).” (John 14,6). We also recognize the truth that God loves every person unconditionally, which is the origin of the human dignity of every person.
Furthermore, we believe in the importance of telling the truth and strive to be truthful in everything we do. As diaconal organisations and social service providers we are committed to honesty with our service users to be trustworthy partners in their difficulties. Through our social and care work we show the truth of human dignity and love in our daily work.
As diaconal organisations we acknowledge the inherent value and worth of every person. We are committed to serve everyone in need, following 1 John 3,18 “Let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth”. We therefore declare that:
- As churches, health and social service providers, we support every person in need protecting their God-given human dignity, recognizing the truth of everyone’s right to self-determination and liberty.
- We take on the responsibility of educating future generations to truthfully live a culture of dialogue, respect and understanding.
- We see the importance of engaging in a truthful dialogue with our service users in order to become trustworthy partners in their difficulties and to find together solutions to their individual situation.
- We are not afraid of communicating difficult truths, but we do it with love, compassion and respect for the person, whether we are talking with or about them.
- We are committed to demonstrate and defend the truth of human rights through our daily work with vulnerable people and when speaking out to those in power.
- We look for social justice and have the courage to advocate for the weakest of our society truthfully communicating local realities to decision makers.
- We aim at creating and giving space and a voice to those who can speak of their own truths and experiences.
- We are trustworthy and reliable partners to decision makers because our policy work is based on the true experiences of the people we represent and support.
As organisations who take on the voice of the most vulnerable, we have the responsibility of communicating decision makers the truth about local realities in order to ask for change. We do this not only by speaking on their behalf, but also by providing them with opportunities to share their own tangible truth.