There may be as many answers as there are people to ask but we might all agree that one such marker is how a society cares for those in need.
Our N.H.S. is often described as the Jewel in our Crown, and it is an extraordinary health care enterprise. My experience of health care in Taiwan was very limited and though I do not wish to generalize I would like to recount the following story:
I was taken on a trip to the mountains and, in the open courtyard of a temple we visited, a Doctor and a small team had set up shop for all who might otherwise find it difficult to access regular health care. We in Britain expect and most usually experience total privacy and confidentiality when talking to our G.P but here at this mountain 'surgery' just metres away from the 'consulting room' a group of men were engaged in temple maintenance and able to see and overhear everything! No privacy here.
The following Sunday two of the women staff from the Church set themselves up with a desk and computer outside the church and as people arrived for the service, they were offered checks for blood pressure and diabetes. This information was relayed on-line to the same Doctor I had met earlier in the week who assessed it and made medical recommendations.
For the church to be involved not only with the spiritual care of its folk but their physical well-being too, taking a holistic approach to building relationships, was to witness a very practical approach to helping people; to see a community helping each other. This felt like real community.
In May we shall be welcoming 7 ministers from Taiwan who are visiting Somerset. They are only here for a week but I invite any of you with an interest in or an experience of Taiwan to get in touch.
Rev. Tim Richards