The value of lived experiences is taking on new meaning and importance. We are in exceptionally volatile times and reflecting on our own series of events and look back on them to understand why we reacted to or took specific actions to avoid issues will help us live mindfully. We unconsciously tend to attribute meaning to as well as to interpret why we behaved in a certain way.
Because we are frequently unaware of our own motivation or behavior. Let’s take a cultural motivation that some of us have accepted as fact and behaved accordingly. We live in a Cancel Culture era where if we don’t like someone or something they said, they take on a self-serving behavior of canceling another, as if they don’t exist. While we can all agree that there is no unanimity in any complex system and globally we are complex.
Historically, the institutional Church found little value in our lived experiences, which is not uncommon for closed systems. Their focus was on portraying Mother Church as flawless, static and holy. We can’t say that any longer. What the institution misses is understanding the unique knowledge, insight and perspectives valuable for the institution to grow and improve. Thank heaven that Pope Francis understands that now. If the Church has such a culture, new opportunities for the reduction of discrimination that causes fissures in Church teaching would never have occurred and new open-minded behaviors would improve morale.
Engaging the People of God by inviting them to participate in the Vatican Synod 2023 is a giant step forward in inviting lived experiences to shape teaching, decision-making and anticipating consequences of that teaching proactively.