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Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI)

Kamran Mofid, Founder, GCGI

Sunday 2 September 2012

Waterperry House

My dear friends, ladies and gentlemen,

At a time of profound crises there must be an opportunity for new vision, new understanding and new thinking. There is a desperate need for new practical ways of relating in an increasingly inter-dependent global community: a time to re-introduce spirituality, ethics, faith and civility into the debate on globalisation, economics, business, education and much more.

Looking at the conference programme, without doubt and hesitation, we can see that our accomplished speakers have risen well to this challenge. The conference is truly privileged to have speakers of this calibre, sharing their views with us. Without them there would have been no conference, and with them, we hope we can march together to heal the troubled and torn cultures of our time and pave the way to global justice, peace and harmony. I wish to express the conference’s respect and sincere gratitude to each of our presenters for their extraordinary commitment in being a part of this vital effort by giving their time and expertise freely. Each one of our speakers brings a missing and essential piece that completes the process, leading to a better understanding of what globalisation is all about. Hopefully, together, we can clearly argue for and insist on social and economic alternatives that address the roots of global injustice and inhumanity, leading to Globalisation for the Common Good.

This is our 10th Anniversary Conference. Many of you know well already what the GCGI is and what it stands for. I do not wish to tell you the long story once again. Tonight, I want to share with you the very short story: the story of Why, How, and What for:

The Dalai Lama was once asked what surprised him most, he said "Man.” Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."

In this respect, the following words and sentiment by a young German executive rings so true: “Now it's all about Productivity, Pay, Performance and Profit- the four Ps- which is fuelled by the three Fs: Fear, Frustration and Failure. Just sometimes I wish that in the midst of these Ps (& Fs), there was some time left for another set of four Fs: Families, Friends, Festivals and Fun.”

In 2002, when GCGI was founded, I had over 20 years of teaching experience at university level. Then, I thought that at our places of higher education our students are not by and large challenged to confront bigger questions of life, questions that are deeply spiritual/ moral in nature:

Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going to? What is the purpose of this journey we call life? How is economy conceived and how should economic and business be conceived? What constitutes the good life? What is the true value of money? What is money for? Why do we work such long hours to acquire greater wealth and more money? How much is enough? What should human beings do and how should human beings act? What are the objects? What are the principles? What should actions be guided by? What should actions be for?

In asking these questions I wanted to relate socio-economic policies not only to the scientific analysis of the economic crisis but above all to moral, cultural, psychological, theological, philosophical, and spiritual states and attitudes.

This implies that economists, business, educational and political leaders-amongst others- need to discover and advance answers to moral, social and political questions that are of most concern to individuals. This comes with the corollary that they should leave most of their scientific capital behind and address individuals on the level of the issues that most concern them. What kind of world do people want to live in? What kind of social and natural landscape fits this world? What contribution can people make and what can people do to move that part of the world in which they live and work in this direction, whether as individuals alone or as part of a collective project?

Given this, I thought, a fundamental reappraisal of our place in Reality is urgently called for in order to break the iron grip of materialism, consumerism, selfishness, greed and individualism, thus freeing ourselves to lead a life with heart and soul; halting the ongoing process of dehumanisation in modern, consumerist society, enabling and empowering us to control the immense forces now held in frail human hands.

The multitude of global crises, I thought, provided a unique opportunity to chart an alternative to the complicit collusion of central states and free markets that characterise neo-liberal political economy today. From this perspective, the proposed shift of focus from a self-interested pursuit of power or wealth (or both at once) to the quest for the common good should open the way for transforming modern economics, economy, business, society and community.

Thus, guided by the principles of hard work, commitment, dedication, volunteerism, service, and humility; with a great passion for dialogue of cultures, civilisations, religions, ideas and visions, at an international conference in Oxford in 2002 the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) and the GCGI Annual International Conference Series were founded.

What the GCGI seeks to offer- through its scholarly and research programme, as well as its outreach and dialogue projects- is a vision that positions the quest for economic and social justice, peace and ecological sustainability within the framework of a spiritual consciousness and a practice of open-heartedness, generosity and caring for others. All are thus encouraged by this vision and consciousness to serve the common good.

The GCGI is a non-profit making initiative with no formal income, capital, seed money, or endowment. It has no bank account, cheque book, team of fund-raisers, accountants and lawyers. This self-sustaining funding mechanism has been a key lynch pin of our independence and integrity. At no point in our history has the GCGI been so reliant on external sources that if external funding is removed, the GCGI cannot continue.

However, what GCGI has plenty of is the love of its friends. I thank you all for making this journey possible, fruitful and rewarding. Without you there would have been no project, no initiative, and no journey.

Given the time constraint, I am not going to name you and to thank you one by one. You know of my love and respect for you. You know I am grateful to you. Without you, the GCGI journey would not have been possible. With you, the journey has been most wonderful, sweet, and meaningful.

However, I have to give a very special and warm thanks to my co-conveners of the past and current conferences, my co-editor of the Journal of Globalisation for the Common Good. To many universities, think tanks, civil societies and NGOs inviting me to deliver occasional lectures, hosting our Journal, publishing my articles, books, and much more, supporting my scholarly activities, amongst them: Dalhousie University, Purdue University, California Lutheran University, Chicago Jesuit Loyola University, University of Melbourne, School of Economic Science, Moscow State University, Fatih University, and MEGATREND University, Shepheard-Walwyn Publishers, Dialogue Society, Rhodes Forum and Rhodes Youth Forum.

I also wish to thank all those who have helped me with my better understanding of IT, website, Skype, computers and more. I thank all my students of the last 30 years, the sources of my inspiration and hope for a better future. And I am most grateful to all those who have inspired me with their wisdom, knowledge, experience, expertise, love and passion.

This week, all of us, experienced and newcomers, young and old, students and teachers together will form a community, committed to exploring and debating visions and ideas for celebrating diversity, appreciating uniqueness, enabling us to transform disagreements into understanding and mutual respect.

I invite you to share a common belief in the potential of each one of us to become self-directed, empowered, and active in defining this time in the world as opportunity for positive change and healing and for the true formation of a culture of peace by giving thanks, spreading joy, sharing love, seeing miracles, discovering goodness, embracing kindness, practicing patience, teaching moderation, encouraging laughter, celebrating diversity, showing compassion, turning from hatred, practicing forgiveness, peacefully resolving conflicts, communicating non-violently, choosing happiness and enjoying life.

Thank you. I wish you a most rewarding and fruitful conference.