Jean Vanier on 4 Signs of a Healthy Group

Becoming Human by Jean Vanier, Anashi Press Ltd: Toronto, ON 1998.

In his chapter on Belonging, Jean Vanier talks about the necessity of healthy groups in order to promote healthy individuals. In doing so, he gives 4 signs of a healthy group:

1: Greater love of others

“An openness to the weak and the needy in our own groups helps us to open our hearts to others who are weak and needy in the greater group of humanity” (60).

Are you open to the weak and needy in the groups that you are a part of?

2: Mission of humble service

A healthy group “does not use or manipulate others for its own aggrandizement. It does not impose its vision on others buts instead prefers to listen to what they are saying and living, to see in them all that is positive” (60).

How well do you listen to those in other groups and religions?

3: Positive outlook towards other groups.

“As we begin to see others’ gifts, we move out from behind the walls of certitude that have closed us up… We are beginning to see each other’s gifts and to appreciate them and to realize that the important thing for each one of us is to grow in love and give of ourselves” (60-1).

Do you focus on what unites your group with others or do you focus on how other groups are wrong?

4: Seeks to grow

“It is a healthy sign when a group seeks to evolve and to recognize the errors of the past, to recognize its own flaws, and to seek the help of experienced people from outside the group in order to be more true and loving, more respectful of difference, more listening and open to the way authority is exercised” (61).

How open are you to admit your faults and seek help?

In conclusion:

“Groups that develop with these four signs are, to my mind, healthy groups; they are helping their members to break free of the egotism inherent in us all and to grow towards greater maturity and inner freedom. They are discovering our common humanity, allowing us to be ourselves, intertwined with each other, receiving and giving life from one another” (61).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: