Pacific Indigenous Philosophies and Values

The story of development cannot change unless its underpinning philosophy is changed. We see today a development and moral crisis infecting all the organs of Pacific body, from economy, to politics, to education, to religion, to policies, and to the everyday lives of the people. The dominant development models are shaped and underpinned by Eurocentric philosophies of ‘growth’, expressed in the ‘more is better’ economic paradigm, and manifested in ideas such as ‘more profit’ and ‘more production’. These ideas of the common ‘economic’ good and ‘the good life’ has infiltrated the Pacific consciousness and continue to inform and influence local ideas of development, and fuel the systems and policies that promote a materialistic civilisation. Unlimited material growth is now the true obsession of postmodernity and has caused a major upset of the interconnectedness of the multiplicity of life in the region, nurturing a culture of injustice and greed.

For the churches to adequately contribute to regional stability and changing the story of development, the underpinning values and philosophies have to be seriously considered. Peoples and organisations involved in development should ask the questions: Whose philosophies, values, and worldviews underpin current? Are they holistic and life-affirming? Are they Pacific? Part of the Pacific churches’ desire to reclaim ownership of their own ways of working together to address this current crisis is an embrace of the Pacific ways of being and knowing that are holistic and life-affirming. Recognizing that scientific and technical knowledge cannot solve the Pacific crisis, Pacific churches reinforce the contribution of life-affirming cultures and values of Pacific island communities, an area in which PTC was a leading education figure since the 1970s. The aim is not to reinvent indigenous cultures, but rather to create new cultures with firm grounding on cultural ideologies of relationality and philosophical underpinnings and values that have been the source of harmony and balance of life in Pacific island cultures for millennia.

PTC aims to develop programmes and infrastructures that support the holistic worldview that enable Pacific island communities to protect and affirm all of life; worldviews which are embedded in our languages, arts, cultures, values, rituals, theologies, ethics, and spirituality. PTC believes that while the world today seems to have shifted it gaze yet again on to the Pacific region, especially in the broader Oceans discourse, it is equally important for Pacific theologians to lead the discussions on the ground. PTC will play an important role in facilitating dialogue around the revisiting and remembering life affirming indigenous philosophies that may be useful for regional collaboration and development. These philosophies will inform the theologies of the church and how the church continues to interpret the bible. They are also equally important in shaping quality leaders who can influence peace and champion regional stability.