U.S. President Barack Obama speaking at the United Nations headquarters in New York, September 22, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Dear President Obama,
A Plea for Wisdom and the Common Good
In your speech to the United Nations General Assembly this Autumn, you eloquently stated one of your core beliefs, that while too often peace remains a distant dream: "We can either accept that outcome as inevitable, and tolerate constant and crippling conflict, or we can recognize that the yearning for peace is universal, and reassert our resolve to end conflicts around the world ... For the most powerful weapon in our arsenal is the hope of human beings - the belief that the future belongs to those who would build and not destroy; the confidence that conflicts can end and a new day can begin.'
We share that belief, and urge you to make it your guiding principle in Afghanistan, Iraq and everywhere else that the US is currently militarily involved. We believe that after eight years or more of war we need a whole new approach to conflict resolution and peace building. And we respectfully and prayerfully suggest to you a different strategy that promotes Wisdom and the Common Good by initiating a surge in expenditures in areas such Education, Social Services, Science, Culture and Knowledge, promoting massive humanitarian assistance and sustainable development.
This sort of investment not is only needed in the US itself to reverse many years of neglect and decline with subsequent loss of global competitiveness, but it is desperately needed in Iraq, Afghanistan and everywhere else. By doing so, you will make the US again a beacon of hope to many, the US as the peace maker and not the US as the war monger. The world is looking to you, so that one day soon we can all say: Yes We Did, Yes We Did, and made the world a better place with you in the White House.
Dear Mr. President,
The economic and financial crisis has brought education sharply into global focus. Education is a lifetime pursuit and an investment for the future. Education is essential for instilling values necessary to bring about stability, conflict resolution, and replacing violence, fear and ignorance with hope and purpose. Humanity’s best hope is always served best with access to quality and affordable education. Today, education is truly global. We now must try to combine our national and global interests, bringing ideas and resources together for the common good. Globalisation is affecting all aspects of our lives. We should understand how globalisation is changing education systems today, and how best to prepare our young people to learn and succeed in a globalised world. It is vital to understand the issues associated with education’s response to globalisation.
The sharing of knowledge, ideas and values is the noblest way to transcend barriers. As such, global education is potentially an immensely powerful tool, helping people from all nations develop dynamic societies, open to dialogue and innovative solutions for tomorrow. The foremost challenges are to work together towards greater mutual respect and understanding, promote increased access and equality throughout the world and prepare students for their role as global citizens. In response to these challenges, we should aim to address several major concerns: for example, inclusiveness, respect for gender equity and cultural diversity, and the internationalisation of content and delivery to prepare students for a global economy and society.
We must all realize that there must be another way in conducting the world’s affairs, moving away from poverty, hopelessness, anger, fear, terrorism and wars to peace, harmony, hope and purpose. But, sadly the impact of the economic crisis on higher education has been profound and devastating. Already, our HE and FE institutions have faced continually decreasing funding from governments at all levels. With the global financial meltdown, it is likely that higher educational institutions will face harder times. Now that education at all levels is poised to be the “whipping boy” of budgetary allocations in the face of the meltdown, what bail out options are available for this and other similar sectors?
There are tens of millions of young people around the world, between the ages of 18 and 25-many with degrees who are unable to find suitable employment or are under-employed. They are not the guilty ones. They did not cause the "meltdown", thus, why is it that they are paying for the crimes of others? They are left with massive debts, student loans and more, with their hopes and dreams shattered. On top of this, fees have been raised significantly, loans have become more expensive and harder to obtain, departments and courses being closed, new buildings and refurbishments stopped, professors losing jobs, contracts of the part-time instructors not renewed, classes getting larger, staff-student ratios rising rapidly,...Need I say more?
How will all this impact education? Where do we go from here? What we need now, what the world is crying loud for, after decades of war, terrorism, death and destruction, financial crises, and more is surely a new strategy calling for “The Humanitarian and Development Surge”, highlighting a new path, a new direction with a new moral, ethical and spiritual compass. Therefore, in order to enable us to create a better world, securing democracy, freedom and prosperity for all, we propose to establish the Education Fund for Action on the Global Common Good. A Fund to bring the people of the world together to do something extraordinary, so that we all become stakeholders, rising to the challenges facing all of us, tackling conflict, disease, global warming, terrorism and poverty.
By working together on a shared cause, we will be part of a larger movement to build trust, understanding and respect between the world’s civilizations and peoples, without which, it will be impossible to heal our world. The Fund will allow us to implement our mission by coordinating our efforts to influence policies, practices, research, and interventions in a manner to bring about a more socially just and ecologically balanced world for our children and grandchildren. We strongly believe that Education is our pathway to equal dignity and global peace.
Dear Mr. President, with a fraction of the sums spent on wars the US can make this possible. This fund will ensure the realisation of the true American Dream which is indeed the dream of all the world over. This is surely what most Americans and the rest of the world could expect from a President who is the Nobel Peace Laureate.
With all God's blessings for your good health and a fruitful, rewarding presidency,
Kamran Mofid PhD (ECON)
- Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative
- Co-editor, Journal of Globalisation for the Common Good