COI Gazette – 7 February 2014

Dr Tutu in Elders delegation goodwill visit to Iran

Members of the Elders (from left): Ernesto Zedillo, Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu and Martti Ahtisaari, in Tehran last week (Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl/The Elders)

Members of the Elders (from left): Ernesto Zedillo, Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu and Martti
Ahtisaari, in Tehran last week (Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl/The Elders)

Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Laureate, Dr Desmond Tutu, joined three other global figures on a visit to Iran last week, with the joint purpose of advancing what the Elders organisation described as “the new spirit of openness and dialogue between Iran and the international community”.

The delegation also sought to explore what could be done to enhance cooperation on regional issues.

The other members of the Elders on their first joint visit to Iran were Kofi Annan, Chair of the Elders, former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Laureate (delegation leader); Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland and Nobel Peace Laureate; and Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico.

Brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007, the Elders are 12 independent global leaders who use their collective influence and experience to promote peace, justice and human rights worldwide.




The world of social media is indeed a ‘new world’. Within only a short span of years, instant, ubiquitous communication through smartphones and other electronic devices has changed everyday lives in our society.

It is not only young people’s lives that have been changed. The fact that some young people are finding the presence of their parents in the social media somewhat off-putting is understandable, given that young people do naturally tend to want to move in their own, parent-free circles and establish independent lives.

On the other hand, of course, it appears that many young people are continuing to live at home, even into their 30s – although this does not mean that they aren’t establishing their own social circles.

Perhaps they cannot afford their own accommodation or perhaps some home comforts are just too difficult to surrender. It is well known that many people can get caught up in complex, online and often quite public relationships. Great personal distress can result from what happens on a small screen in one’s pocket. Sometimes words can be published that have been too hastily written or sometimes the ‘send’ button has been too hastily pressed. There are clear benefits to instant communication, but there are drawbacks and dangers too. It is not only that life moves more quickly, but that in itself means that there is less time for thought, for proper reflection before committing one’s comments to writing, perhaps in a very open, online context.

Against such a backdrop, a recent initiative by the Church of England’s Diocese of Bath and Wells created something of an online sensation itself, by setting out nine ‘rules’ for social media engagement, quickly dubbed the ‘Twitter commandments’: Don’t rush in; Remember tweets are transient yet permanent; Be a good ambassador for the Church; Don’t hide behind anonymity; Be aware of public/private life boundaries; Maintain a professional distance; Stay within the law; Respect confidentiality; and, Be mindful of your own security.

The guidelines were drawn up “to help clergy, office-holders and staff already active on social media fulfil, with confidence, their role as online ambassadors for their local parish, the wider Church and our Christian faith” and the Diocese aptly points to the interactive, conversational, open nature and the immediacy of social media as all requiring new ways of thinking about communication.

It is good that the Church has proposed certain principles to be observed when communicating in this very fast world; they require considerable self-discipline, but that always has been part of the Christian life.


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