13th GCGI Conference, Waterperry House: A Report and Reflection by Prof. Steve Szeghi
- Kamran Mofid
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Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI)
School of Economic Science (SES)
Why Values Matter
“The Power of Purpose and Values: The Path to a Better World”
31 August- 4 September, 2016
Once again, the Founder of the GCGI, Kamran Mofid, succeeded in spectacular fashion, in bringing together a wonderfully eclectic mix of speakers, delegates and participants, binding us together in a common purpose and vision. The quality of the presentations was richly broad and penetratingly deep. Various speakers discussed the need for connection and relationships, and how consumerism and materialism were misplaced attempts to find what we really need, ‘Values and Spiritual Wisdom’, which we are starved of in the global economic market system.
This year, we once again found a unity with one another, we found connection. We found it in our search for truth and in our hopes to build a better world in ways both large and small. We listened intently to each other’s presentations. We engaged in dialogue during the formal sessions, and again more informally as we ate together and shared perspectives. What we hope for the world, we found once again in a special way, this year at Waterperry House.
The Conference brought together over 70 participants gathered at Waterperry House, to celebrate, appreciate, and discuss the importance of and the value of values. The participants came from many walks of life, many countries, diverse ethnicities, and different spiritual, philosophical, and religious perspectives. They also came from a wide breadth of both academic disciplines and career paths. Many were teachers and professors, some were entrepreneurs, social and business, some were lawyers, and some were accomplished spiritual, political, and community leaders, to name but a few. All were united by a desire to make this world we live in more just, more equal, more ecological, and more relational. For it is in relationships with one another and in our relationships with the earth and all the species and elements of nature that human beings find happiness, peace and purpose.
We all found a great deal of unity in values and the value of values. From the economic to the political, to the legal, from the individual to the global, it was agreed by all that the erosion of values to pure market forces is at the root of corruption, conflict, social injustice, and environmental destruction. A renaissance of values and the valuing of values will be at the heart of surviving the various crises which afflict the human as well as the entire community of nature.
In the presentations that were given from the keynote speeches, to the telling of stories, to the other various plenary sessions, and in the art and music we shared, a thread of beauty emerged as a theme. Nature is beautiful whether untrammeled as in true wilderness or managed as in the wonderful gardens at Waterperry House. The human soul or spirit is beautiful, from the smiles with which people greet one another to the sharing of burdens and hardships. Relationships are beautiful, with one another and with the rest of the world of nature. It was discovered not only in the formal presentations and the question and answer sessions that followed, but also in dinner and after dinner conversations and dialogue that we as human beings along with all other species do, as the Navajo say, walk in beauty. All that is necessary truly is to open our eyes and ears to the beauty that is all about us. With that appreciation emerges the consciousness required to not only solve our problems but to grow beyond them.
An appreciation for and a respect for the beauty of others, the beauty of the natural world, forms the basis for values. In valuing other species, other individuals, other nations, other cultures, other philosophies and religious traditions comes respect and reverence. Out of respect and reverence emerges dialogue. From dialogue ultimately justice and peace blossom and grow. And our gatherings, dialogue, conversation, and friendship are in small and large ways part of that process. The process whereby an appreciation of beauty and a celebration of values is alive in the world and we were part of it.
A further memorable time of the Conference was on the final evening of our gathering on Saturday 3rd of September, when at the Conference Gala Dinner, Kamran presented the Fourth GCGI Award for Public Service in the Interest of the Common Good to Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Buckingham in recognition of Sir Anthony’s extraordinary and tireless work, offering a truly meaningful education for the common good.
On Sunday 4th of September we concluded the Conference by reaffirming our values and commitment '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 tolerance, encouraging laughter, celebrating diversity, showing compassion, turning from hatred, practicing forgiveness, peacefully resolving conflicts, communicating non-violently, choosing happiness and enjoying life.'
Until we meet again at the next GCGI Conference, let us remain a Community in our hearts as we work together, not alone, in spirit to build a better world.
Steve Szeghi, Professor of Economics, Wilmington College, GCGI Senior Ambassador, GCGI Board of Advisers, Co-Editor GCGI Journal(GCGIJ)