17.1 As work ceased for the day, we made our way with the partners to the chapel. It was a pleasant environment: carpet on the floor, upholstered chairs, good acoustics, warm and well lit.
17.2 The partners joined in singing while everyone filed in.
17.3 "This is a special open day event," commenced the chaplain, "and I have directed my sermon to our guests on the assumption that they are new to Christian co-operative thought and practice."
17.4 "As this may be my last chance with some of you, I will waste no time putting some basic Christian principles. Let's start off with God's will for you! Yes, God has a plan for each and everyone of you: some of you are on the path God intended for you and you experience events in accordance with God's will for you; others of you are on a course set by yourselves and consequently God-given events that would have meaning if you were on God's path for your life are seen by you as irrelevant since you are off-course. This concept is presented in the first slide."
17.6 "Now God did not make robots of us. God gave each of us the free will to do God’s will or to follow other paths. Consider what happens if I accept God’s will and plan for my life and do God’s will: my actions in God’s name affect other people in God’s name and allow them to behave in accordance with God’s plan for their lives, which in turn affects me and others. Learn to appreciate this multiplier effect of doing God’s will."
17.7 "Now that you have an appreciation of God’s will for your life, let’s consider the chief mechanism by which you will find the will of God for your life - the mechanism of prayer." The chaplain projected his second slide.
17.9 "I believe that God made our minds, designing in each a device similar to a powerful transceiver so that God can communicate with each person, and each person can communicate with each other person ...... this is shown in the slide where the arrows indicate communication between people and God and the dotted lines indicate communication between people."
17.10 "We can use this inbuilt device when we learn the technique that applies to each of us. I find I have to make an effort to quiet the surface matters on my mind so that I can let the gentler signals come through. I have to make an effort to stop transmitting and to start receiving - it is harder for me to listen than to speak."
17.11 "People who don’t know how to pray have the equipment but have never learned to use it. Like a person who buys a computerised car but doesn’t believe the computer is there, refuses to believe it will work if it is there, is not prepared to find out how it works or try it, and never switches off manual. Consequently, all the modern automatic features built in to save fuel, operate the environmental control system, monitor tyre pressure, control the rate of charge of the traction batteries, etcetera, are not used as the designer intended. What a waste."
17.12 "Start learning how to operate your transceiver by offering a simple prayer like, ‘Jesus, I haven’t used very much of the brain God gave me. Please teach me how to communicate with you.’ Then read the gospels and purposefully develop a deeper relationship with two or three of your Christian acquaintances and listen to Jesus speaking through them. Believe me, God has a plan for your life! Go home tonight and start using your transceiver and you will discover the first step on God’s path for you. And when you take that first step, you will learn something of the coordinating Mind of God in human affairs."
17.13 "I am interested in producer co-operatives or extended partnerships and the philosophical foundations of The Partnership. There have been many before us who have been touched by the same vision of what the human race could be if only people would realise their potential: Robert Owen, Fourier, Adam Smith, Godin, Marx and Jesus to name a few. Jesus doesn’t suspect our potential, Jesus knows it. The essence of much of what these people want to see is the world and its people achieve its potential - to see it as it can be. They had an intense desire to see people become responsible, creative, well-fed and productive with meaningful working relationships so necessary to an integrated, well balanced and happy life."
17.14 "Since the start of the industrial revolution, there have been attempts to realise workers’ co-operatives, but few have endured. The few that have survived the test of time have inspired the partners here to persist in the face of a generally dismal picture to attempt essentially the same thing that many people have failed at in the past. The Partnership is one of the few successes where industrial justice is practised, people are free of insecurity regarding at least their basic physical needs, and the State has been forced over a long period via many and varied lobbies and approaches to serve rather than be served."
17.15 "Materialism inside The Partnership has been superseded leaving the partners free to achieve higher goals. The master/servant relationship in the work place is obsolete along with the employer/employee relationship and ownership attitudes have emerged founded on genuine ownership."
17.16 "Savings to a person is as water to a plant: one drop of water per day insufficient arrests the development of the full potential of the plant and stunts its growth. The human race is capable of so much, being built to the finest design by the almighty Hand of God. Our waste of human resource via arrested development must be an abomination to our Maker. That same almighty power will judge us guilty who are able and fail to provide the necessary means of development to those who so sorely need it."
17.17 "These then are some of the motives for the formation and being of The Partnership - pressing, impatient, irresistible. Perhaps you too may share these motives if you stay with us long enough."
17.18 "The business has grown into a well organised factory complex equipped with very adequate capital plant and skills. The goal has been achieved of satisfying the needs and most of the wants of the partners, some of whom elect to work near the minimum hours per week to allow time to follow other interests and enjoy family life - and they have the necessary resources to do this effectively."
17.19 "The partners have reached the point where they notice the needs of others, and have the will to fill some of these needs. A partner observes a need and discusses it with friends and partners during the normal course of Partnership life; often the need is met informally; sometimes it is necessary to raise the matter at board level to marshal the necessary means of meeting the need. Once a need has been given board approval, it is pursued like any other goal with the partners’ customary diligence and zeal."
17.20 "The Partnership is not designed to benefit the partners at the expense of or via the exploitation of people outside The Partnership. Rather the goal is by diligent, well-directed and productive work to honestly earn abundance for the partners. We don’t aim to become very rich or get something for nothing. The Partnership is an equitable means to achieve goals with provision for a potential overload capacity should this for any reason be required."
17.21 "One of the reasons that the partners feel free to behave like this is that they have a sense of personal security, some of the sources of which are:
17.26 "Now the mass of the people outside do not have 1, 3 or 4 so they find some kind of security in insurance, attempts to amass ever greater amounts of money - this is very hard to do when everyone is trying to do it - and similar ineffective security-seeking behaviour. The mass of the people never seem to accumulate sufficient quantities of these things to represent what they feel to be adequate security, so devices such as alcohol, drugs, unproductive gambling and clubs are often used as a means of escape from an unsatisfactory reality. The partners have a different emphasis on these things - they have insurance policies, but the high-risk events they insure against do not usually include the low-risk policies so beloved by the big insurance companies, such as life cover."
17.27 "The most significant aspect of life in a Christian partnership is that the conditions for growth and rehabilitation of an individual exist. People are not machines and the more they are treated as machines, the more debilitated they become. God made people very differently from the way we make machines. People have all kinds of needs and wants and they must do a wide variety of things if they are to develop something of their potential."
17.28 "If you consider a person and that person’s environment as a changing system depicted in the slide now before you, you will get some idea of the inputs and outputs necessary for a person to achieve their potential."
17.30 "Now it may surprise some of our visitors to know that most of the partners here have the inputs and outputs shown in the slide, and I have come to understand ‘happiness’ as being in this state. Thus you see I could have equally labelled the slide ‘The Conditions for a People to Achieve Their Potential’ or ‘The Conditions for a Person to be Happy’. The partners realise how important it is to maintain an environment wherein they can go on achieving more and more of their potential, and where they can introduce others that they care for to the same healing influences."
17.31 "I hope from your day with us you have concluded that in The Partnership the seeking and maintaining of good personal relationships, and intangibles like love and justice shown in the slide, have a higher priority than materials. The partners aim to keep these priorities in mind and to remain vigilant lest they be eroded."
17.32 "Employees outside have control over much of their environment except their work environment. The Partnership has enshrined in the Rules that each partner is equally responsible for profits and losses. Each partner owns an equal part of The Partnership’s capital and has commensurate control of the working environment."
17.33 "The partners have a healthy respect for the products of labour since they are vitally concerned with the productive aspects of commodities. This respect for labour and what it produces does not often exist among outsiders who see only the price and quality of the commodities they consume, and seldom see or are involved in the whole of the commodity that they partly produce. If a commodity is imported, outsiders then have no chance of visiting the factory where it is made and seeing and appreciating its productive aspects. Even the price is not relevant to their society if it comes from a relatively low or high labour price country."
17.34 "Trust is characteristic of Christian partnership enterprise. Outsiders often comment on the consistently high performance, integrity and ability of the partners. People from all quarters are proud to be associated with us. Partly because of this mutual trust The Partnership eventually became the most profitable enterprise of its type and size. We started distributing a surplus relatively soon after establishment - low profitability and financial insecurity have seldom been problem areas. Our people are proud of their organisational achievements and jealously guard their good name. The mutual trust between the partners spread, because of its sound foundation, to customers and suppliers. We honour that trust. When mutual trust is achieved, it has its rewards - open orders are commonplace. Notice, if your eyes can see, that the partners are internally motivated not externally coerced. Time clocks are used as part of the mechanism of determining a just and equitable distribution of income not as a means of coercive discipline in a hierarchical power structure. As an organism, The Partnership has achieved health, power and efficiency."
17.35 "Partnership files are open to all partners and we encourage each other by lectures, films, and demonstrations to acquire an understanding of the Christian basis and the financial and technical mechanisms of the enterprise. Regular training sessions are held for all interested partners and each partner is given the option of learning as much about the organisation as they are able. Gradually the partners realised their unassailable market position and consequently felt free to release some performance data and to invite outsiders to selected Partnership meetings, right up to board level, in an effort to spread the gospel about this Christian enterprise, so that others may share the benefits we enjoy."
17.36 "There is a hierarchy of goals", continued the chaplain. "There are goals organisational and individual goals. Some goals have to be achieved before others, but this does not usually mean that they are more important. For example, you may set yourself the goal of making a cup of coffee: in order to achieve this goal you have to achieve some minor goals first - you have to acquire coffee, hot water, sugar, milk and a cup before the goal that is uppermost in your mind can be attained. Similarly a manufacturer has to produce goods, sell them, and make a surplus to continue existing - but this is not the order of importance in the minds of the partners. The partners’ dominant goals are all higher level or, referring to the chart, first priority. Jesus advised you to keep uppermost in your mind the highest goals: ‘Set your mind on God’s kingdom and God’s justice before everything else, and all the rest will come to you as well’ - Matt.6:33."
17.37 The chaplain projected his last slide:
17.38 "In general the individual and the partnership have no choice regarding first and second priority goals: they have to be achieved before first priority goals can be achieved, even though it is the first priority goals that are considered more important. It is essential for both the individual and the organisation to have a surplus, for without it many options are closed off. You can judge nations, organisations and people by the ways they spend their surplus."
17.39 "Jesus said, ‘You know that in the world, rulers lord it over their subjects, and their great men make them feel the weight of authority; but it shall not be so with you. Among you, whoever wants to be great must be your servant ... like the Son of Man; he did not come to be served but to serve ...’ - Matt 20:25."
17.40 "How different The Partnership is to the way the world is with its Kings and Queens and modern Czars! I have heard the argument supporting the conspicuous consumption of rich people: ‘They provide work for people and we badly need jobs, even if it is to provide luxury for a few’. But what I tell you is this: they are indulging in a misdirection of resources that violates good Christian stewardship. Jesus’ priority will always be to feed, clothe and house the poor before providing the rich with luxuries - wealthy Christians must be particularly vigilant to ensure that they do not consume more than they need."
17.41 "When you say, ‘You’re being idealistic to seriously suggest such a reversal of priorities and behaviour,’ please see that inherent in this statement is the assumption that baser motives will always dominate the hearts of people in power. Christians do not believe this! We believe it is possible to save people from their baser motives and to bring out the latent altruistic behaviour that God has implanted there for use when God’s Kingdom comes. In the real world, people did not become kings and queens by appealing to the co-operative, altruistic aspect of people. They got there by wielding power! By killing, exploiting and denying Christ! If you believe otherwise I would say it is you who has the unreal idealistic view of powerful people."
17.42 "I have a rich friend. A lovely person: generous, kind, courteous and polite. But when it comes to considering the plight of the hungry and oppressed in the light of his luxury, he simply cannot bring himself to think seriously about it. He is very grateful for his wealth and privilege, and is genuinely piteous of the poor. He knows he should distribute his surplus wealth and power to those who need it so desperately, but this would reduce his capital and income and he seems incapable of taking the first step toward it. Jesus spoke to a man in a very similar position when he called the rich young man who put his possessions higher on his priority list than Jesus. Matthew 19:16-22."
17.43 "Unless the Spirit moves my rich friend, he is lost."
17.44 "Unless the Spirit moves you, my friend, you also are lost."
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From The Partnership, by Graeme Doel.
Converted to HTML by Simon Grant, 2003.