The Value of Values: Why Values Matter
- Kamran Mofid
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“Values represent our guiding principles: our broadest motivations, influencing the attitudes we hold and how we act.”
‘Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value’- Albert Einstein
As it has been observed throughout history, in action and thought, people are affected by a wide range of influences. Past experience, cultural and social norms are some of the most important ones. Connected to all of these, to some extent, are our values, which represent a strong guiding force, shaping our attitudes and behaviour over the course of our lives. Our values have been shown to influence our political persuasions; our willingness to participate in political action; our career choices; our ecological footprints; how much money we spend, and on what; and our feelings of personal wellbeing, contentment and happiness; as well as our relationship with others, with nature and the Mother Earth, to mention but a few.
Let us pause for a moment and focus on some fundamental and enduring questions of human meaning and value. Questions such as:
1. What does it mean to be human?
2. What does it mean to live a life of meaning and purpose?
3. What does it mean to understand and appreciate the natural world?
4. What does it mean to forge a more just society for the common good?
By their very nature, these questions lend themselves to thought and discussion around ethics, morals and values.
At the GCGI we are delighted and honoured that since 2002 we have been at the forefront of activities to highlight, address and analyse these and other relevant questions.
We recognised that building a better and more harmonious world will demand challenging and novel ways of thinking, perspectives that encompass the broad swath of human experience and wisdom, from the natural sciences and all the social sciences, to the philosophical and spiritual values of the world’s major religions and of indigenous peoples as well. The task before us is a daunting one, and wisdom in how to proceed will come from a multiple of sources, and must embrace the panorama of cultural and disciplinary perspectives. We appreciate that we should not carry on constructing a global society that is materially rich but spiritually poor. We did know that we must be led by values, and must uphold them at all times.
Thus, in 2002, we began to construct globalisation for the common good, as a path to build a more just and sustainable world.
At the GCGI we strive to uphold our values:
We value caring and kindness
We value passion and positive energy
We value service and volunteerism
We value simplicity and humility
We value trust, openness, and transparency
We value values-led education
We value harmony with nature
We value non-violent conflict resolution
We value interfaith, inter-civilisiational and inter-generational dialogue
We value teamwork and collaboration
We value challenge and excellence
We value fun and play
We value curiosity and innovation
We value health and well-being
We value a sense of adventure
We value people, communities, and cultures
We value friendship, cooperation and responsibility
Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI): Where we connect our intellect with our humanity
To understand, appreciate, and face the challenges of the contemporary world requires us to focus on life’s big picture. Whether it is war and peace, economics and the environment, justice and injustice, love and hatred, cooperation and competition, common good and selfishness, science and technology, progress and poverty, profit and loss, food and population, energy and water, disease and health, education and family, we need the big picture in order to understand and solve the many pressing problems, large and small, regional or global.
The “Big Picture” is also the context in which we can most productively explore the big perennial questions of life - purpose and meaning, virtues and values.
In order to focus on life’s bigger picture and be guided by the principles of hard work, commitment, volunteerism and service; 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.
We recognise that our socio-economic problems are closely linked to our spiritual problems and vice versa. Moreover, socio-economic justice, peace and harmony will come about only when the essential connection between the spiritual and practical aspects of life is valued. Necessary for this journey is to discover, promote and live for the common good. The principle of the common good reminds us that we are all really responsible for each other – we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers – and must work for social conditions which ensure that every person and every group in society is able to meet their needs and realize their potential. It follows that every group in society must take into account the rights and aspirations of other groups, and the well-being of the whole human family.
One of the greatest challenges of our time is to apply the ideas of the global common good to practical problems and forge common solutions. Translating the contentions of philosophers, spiritual and religious scholars and leaders into agreement between policymakers and nations is the task of statesmen and citizens, a challenge to which Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) adheres. The purpose is not simply talking about the common good, or simply to have a dialogue, but the purpose is to take action, to make the common good and dialogue work for all of us, benefiting us all.
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 has from the very beginning invited us to move beyond the struggle and confusion of a preoccupied economic and materialistic life to a meaningful and purposeful life of hope and joy, gratitude, compassion, and service for the good of all.
Perhaps our greatest accomplishment has been our ability to bring Globalisation for the Common Good into the common vocabulary and awareness of a greater population along with initiating the necessary discussion as to its meaning and potential in our personal and collective lives.
In short, at Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative we are grateful to be contributing to that vision of a better world, given the goals and objectives that we have been championing since 2002. For that we are most grateful to all our friends and supporters that have made this possible.