Envisioning new ways of living well together

By Hivlin Siles Maldonado | UMAVIDA, Joining Hands Bolivia

Joining in community, we gather to pray for the healing of God’s Creation and that we may live in harmony with it. Photo by Chenoa Stock.

My name is Hivlin Siles Maldonado. I have been the coordinator of UMAVIDA, the Joining Hands network in Bolivia for a little over 5 months. As a network, UMAVIDA promotes environmental sustainability and empowerment of marginalized communities.

As I look at the work we do with local communities and the interactions amongst ourselves within the network, I would like to anchor our work in the concept of “buen vivir” (good way of living), a philosophy that is integral to Andean culture, and promotes actions that are community centric, ecologically-balanced and culturally sensitive.

To challenge ourselves to work as a network is to live in a world where there is good and evil; where there is the other and the alter, the different; where there are fears, confidence, dreamers and pessimists; balance, happiness, poverty and wealth in different forms, and other good and evil aspects of human beings. As it is said, in the Lord’s vineyard, there’s a little bit of everything. In this small piece of this grand house, we are there!

It is time to rediscover our hearts. For this, we need others – a group, a community where we can develop ourselves. We need to dedicate more energy to build true ideals that are more focused on our well being, rebuilding our life senses, and practicing values that cultivate life; where politics is at the service of the world citizen, where there is an economy for life and we care for democracy, where our sense of sight and the eyes of the heart see the wonder and the power of nature in each living being on the face of the Earth; where we can co-exist with qualities, gifts and talents that we must develop and multiply for the well being of all.

As UMAVIDA, the Joining Hands network in Bolivia and at the global level, we must work toward buen vivir and make happiness a goal for all countries.

Some countries have advanced in the science of happiness and ask questions and carry out surveys about what makes them happy. The majority of the responses were related to the following:

  • Having many positive, human relationships
  • Helping others
  • Living in an equal society
  • Having the possibility to participate and have influence on public life
  • Being able to develop possibilities in life for one’s self
  • It is necessary to add that money is a part of this, but is restricted to a certain degree

Seeing these responses, I believe that we must dedicate our energies to happiness and cultivating life or “living well,” and the rest will follow. I see this as a way to challenge ourselves as we continue to improve our work as a network!

If we are able to change our lifestyle, we will radiate life. The greatest changes are not always done in mass, but through small ones that innovate and embark on new paths and new forms of life.

According to our Andean-Amazonic culture in Bolivia, in order to be happy, everything in one’s environment must be in harmony – the animal world, the plant world, the world of the gods, etc. Happiness can only be given in this context. Reciprocity makes people happy. It is the central aspect of this cosmovision – to give-receive-return. This is what we can change in our work together.

We work as a network to recover our capacity to dream together; we work as a network to feel and we work as a network to think! I’m very excited about this new adventure!


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