The GCGI: How it Began
- Kamran Mofid
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Let me explain, as I strongly believe that unless you know the messenger well, first and foremost, then, his message would not make any sense at all.
To do this, the best I can do, is to quote you a passage from a book I wrote in 2005, well before the crash of September 2008 and very relevant to get to know the GCGI better:
“From 1980 onwards, for the next twenty years, I taught economics in universities, enthusiastically demonstrating how economic theories provided answers to problems of all sorts. I got quite carried away by the beauty, the sophisticated elegance, of complicated mathematical models and theories. But gradually I started to have an empty feeling.
‘I began to ask fundamental questions of myself. Why did I never talk to my students about compassion, dignity, comradeship, solidarity, happiness, spirituality – about the meaning of life? We never debated the biggest questions. Who are we? Where have we come from? Where are we going to?
‘I told them to create wealth, but I did not tell them for what reason. I told them about scarcity and competition, but not about abundance and co-operation. I told them about free trade, but not about fair trade; about GNP – Gross National Product – but not about GNH – Gross National Happiness. I told them about profit maximisation and cost minimisation, about the highest returns to the shareholders, but not about social consciousness, accountability to the community, sustainability and respect for creation and the creator. I did not tell them that, without humanity, economics is a house of cards built on shifting sands.
‘These conflicts caused me much frustration and alienation, leading to heartache and despair. I needed to rediscover myself and real-life economics. After a proud twenty-year or so academic career, I became a student all over again. I would study theology, philosophy and ethics, disciplines nobody had taught me when I was a student of economics and I did not teach my own students when I became a teacher of economics.
‘It was at this difficult time that I came to understand that I needed to bring spirituality, compassion, ethics and morality back into economics itself, to make this dismal science once again relevant to and concerned with the common good.’
As an economist with a wide range of experience, I do appreciate the significance of economics, politics, trade, banking, insurance and commerce, and of globalisation. I understand the importance of wealth creation. But wealth must be created for the right reasons.
Value-led wealth creation for the purpose of value-led expenditure and investment is to be encouraged and valued. Blessed are those wealth creators who know “Why” and “How” wealth is produced and, more importantly, when wealth is created “What” it is going to be used for.
Today’s business leaders are in a unique position to influence what happens in society for years to come. With this power comes monumental responsibility. They can choose to ignore this responsibility, and thereby exacerbate problems such as economic inequality, environmental degradation and social depravation, but this will compromise their ability to do business in the long run. The world of good business needs a peaceful and just world in which to operate and prosper: A world that is truly for the common good.
However, in order to arrive at this peaceful and prosperous destination, we need to change the house of neo-classical economics, to make a fit home for the common good. After all, many of the issues that people struggle over, or their governments put forward, have ultimately economics at their core. As I mentioned before, the creation of a stable society in today’s global world is largely ignored in favour of economic considerations of minimising costs and maximising profits, while other equally important values are put aside and ignored.
Economics once again must find its heart, soul and spirit. Moreover, it should also reconnect itself with its original source, rooted in ethics and morality. Today’s huge controversy which surrounds much of the economic activity and the business world is because they do not adequately and appropriately address the needs of the global collective and the powerless, marginalised and excluded. This, surely, in the interest of all, has to change. The need for an explicit acknowledgement of true global values is the essential requirement in making economics work for the common good. Economics, as practiced today cannot claim to be for the common good. In short, a revolution in values is needed, which demands that economics and business must embrace both material and spiritual values.
It is my pleasure and honour to have put into practice these discoveries and values by founding the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative in 2002.
The Story of the GCGI
Why Love, Trust, Respect and Gratitude Trumps Economics: Together for the Common Good
Kamran Mofid, Founder, Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI)
(Written to Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the GCGI)
Oxford 2002 to Oxford 2012
Portrait of a Great Journey for the Common Good
We live in difficult and troubling times, facing unprecedented global challenges in the areas of climate change and ecology, finance and economics, hunger and infectious disease, international relations and cooperation, peace and justice, terrorism and war, armaments and unprecedented violence. It is precisely in times like these – unstable and confusing though they may be – that people everywhere need to keep their eyes on the better side of human nature, the side of love and compassion, rather than hatred and injustice; the side of the common good, rather than selfishness, individualism and greed.
People need to see that there are serious alternatives to the world’s present failing policies, rules and institutions, and that there are likeminded global citizens who share a vision of hope and common values that can lift them out of the deep sense of powerlessness and despair that is now affecting so many parts of the world.
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.
The Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative Annual Conference series have ranged far across the world through Oxford, Saint Petersburg, Dubai, Nairobi/Kericho, Honolulu, Istanbul, Melbourne, Chicago and Thousand Oaks, California. The 10th Annual Conference, once again, is returning to Oxford in September 2012.
The GCGI conferences have created and continue to create an ever-widening international community of scholars, researchers and experts, forging links and establishing dialogues across national, cultural, religious, and academic boundaries, and putting into practice the movement’s core philosophy: that globalisation need not be defined merely in terms of impersonal market forces, but can be a power for good, building spiritual bonds that can unite humanity and bring different cultures, civilisations, faiths and academic disciplines closer together.
Today the GCGI is considered a leading progressive think tank, producing cutting-edge research and innovative policy ideas for a just, democratic and sustainable world. For the last 10 years, GCGI has helped shape the progressive thinking that is now the political centre ground. Independent and radical, we are committed to combating inequality, empowering citizens, promoting social responsibility, creating a sustainable economy and revitalising democracy. Best known for our influential work on Globalisation for the Common Good, Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility, Value-led Economics and Business Education, Ecology, Environment& Sustainable Development, Interfaith Dialogue and more, we now have significant cooperative projects with a number of universities, think tanks and civil societies in many countries around the world. GCGI’s media programme and its influential online Journal, Journal of Globalisation for the Common Good, hosted at Purdue University, has since its inception in 2005 made significant contribution in furthering progressive goals in education and media policy.
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, by encouraging us all to know and 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 and accountants. 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.
The most precious capital that the GCGI has had is the calibre of its friends and supporters, including the universities that have hosted its annual conferences, and more, which with their love, trust and goodwill have committed themselves as partners in shared vision, to support the GCGI in a spirit of moral, spiritual and intellectual collaboration to further its work.
Reflecting on our shared journey for the common good, it is amazing to me that ten years have gone by so quickly. What began as a simple idea to share the practical wisdom of the common good, dialogue, love, generosity, kindness, and more has blossomed into an internationally recognized non-profit organization that has become a leading resource “inspiring people to do great things for the common good”.
From the very beginning, I knew that we will succeed, if we can reach-out to everybody around the world and be an all volunteer network of individuals, while approaching our growth organically and focusing on our vision and mission.
As you might imagine, in the initial days when we began sharing our vision of doing things for the common good, we were met with a great deal of scepticism, apprehension, and thankfully, some warm embraces and love. We were energized by all of those early experiences and continued to find ways to build ideas, programmes and initiatives around our main message and theme of Globalisation for the Common Good.
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 the last ten years and so, similar to all those who have taken a similar value-based-journeys of self-discovery, I, too, have also realized that, “From the great oceans, vast plains and highest mountains that sustain our fragile and vital ecosystem, to our village friends and city dwellers that bring meaning to our common journey, we are quickly realizing that everyone and everything is interconnected and interdependent.
With each passing day, it is also increasingly evident in every corner of our world that great change is upon us and that by standing together in mutual respect, honour and dignity for one another, we will answer this call with creative, viable and sustainable solutions.
We must take the necessary steps now to reach out to our fellow humans and extend our hand in forgiveness, acceptance and genuine friendship. Our choices shall be made from compassion while embracing the richness of our amazing diversity. The love and acceptance we have for ourselves will be the source of our strength to assist others. Together we can and will make a difference through love.
These necessary changes may challenge us to the depths of our courage and test the very essence of our personal character, yet with each ensuing breath we shall remain in love and this love will be the very basis of a new era of peace and abundance, equality and goodwill for all”.
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.
Therefore, yes, it is true: “Love, Trust, Respect and Gratitude Trumps Economics”.