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Corruption, Corruption,... Corruption, Everywhere

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It would be an act of honesty and humility if David Cameron admits that it is not only Nigeria and Afghanistan who are “Fantastically corrupt”. Today, as a result of decades of neo-liberalism, valuing money and more money as the main sign of success, the scourge of Corruption is everywhere.

The bitter harvest that neo-liberalism has brought us all is the result of its ignorance and inability to accept that our life journey is not all about economics, money, finance and  the Madness of Black Friday sales. We should acknowledge that our crises are not economic only, but moral and spiritual.

In all, the rise in the global corruption crisis can only be addressed, reversed and resolved, and our goals can only be achieved, if we change direction, adopt new values and become concerned with life’s bigger questions. We must reconnect ourselves with nature and with our true human and spiritual values. Moreover, as members of the household of humanity, we must provide security, sanctuary and constructive engagement for all of our human family. Sustained by the bounty of all, called by the Sacred, and animated into action by the Spirit of peace, Justice, and Reverence for All Life, we must be guided by values and take action in the interest of the common good, empowering each other to build a better world, for all of us.

I hope and pray that Prime Minister Cameron will rise to this spiritual and moral challenge and for once will stop talking about liberalisation, privatisation, marketisation, free trade, market forces, lower taxes, more profit and such like. And moreover, for once again, when talking about aspiration he would not only means to aspire to make loads of money, but to aspire to be good, to be led by values to build a better world, free of corruption, for example.

On the eve of London Anti- Corruption Summit- Values-led action to eradicate corruption 

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The Prime Minister David Cameron whom was only last month struggling to explain and shed the image of a man born with a ‘silver- offshore spoon’ in his mouth, is now hoping that by the end of Thursday 12 May 2016 he will be seen instead as a champion of the struggle against corruption and the poverty, inequality, violence, mistrust and misrule it begets, at home, here in Britain and the wider world.

On Thursday at Lancaster House in London he will welcome “a unique coalition of governments, businesses, civil society, law enforcement, sports committees and international organisations, who will commit to taking practical steps to tackle corruption and make it a genuine global priority”. 

However, it is a pity that despite Panama being the country at the centre of the Panama Papers controversy, it will not send any delegates. Moreover, the British Virgin Islands, another country linked to leaked cache of documents detailing the tax affairs of thousands of wealthy individuals, has also been left off Downing Street’s invitation list. 

Below you can read the gist of what Mr. Cameron has said about corruption and the Summit:

“Corruption is an enemy of progress and the root of so many of the world’s problems. It destroys jobs and holds back economic growth, traps the poorest in desperate poverty, and undermines our security by pushing people towards extremist groups.

“The battle against corruption will not be won overnight. It will take time, courage and determination to deliver the reforms that are necessary. But we cannot hope to solve the major global challenges we face without tackling the exploitation, fraud and dishonesty at their heart.

“For too long there has been a taboo about tackling this issue head on. The summit will change that. Together we will push the fight against corruption to the top of the international agenda where it belongs.”

Very beautiful words indeed! However, I sincerely hope that Mr. Cameron is not going to lecture others about corruption only, but with total honesty and humility address the corruption issues at home too.

Mr Cameron should read and think carefully about a letter sent to him a fortnight ago by campaigners in Nigeria.

“We are embarked on a nationwide anti-corruption campaign,” the letter said. “But these efforts are sadly undermined if countries such as your own are welcoming our corrupt to hide their ill-gotten gains in your luxury homes, department stores, car dealerships, private schools and anywhere else that will accept their cash with no questions asked. The role of London’s property market as vessels to conceal stolen wealth has been exposed in court documents, reports, documentaries and more.”

As noted in the Guardian “Under successive governments, from Thatcher to Blair to Cameron, London has become the financial centre for the world’s dirty money.”

In all, if Mr. Cameron’s words on corruption noted above are not going to be “empty words” only, said today and forgotten tomorrow, then, surely, he must begin the day by firstly asking some pertinent and fundamental questions:

1- Why are we here? (That is, the world of corruption and more corruption)

2- How can we get there? (That is, the better world we all wish to see, a world we can trust in, a world free of corruption)

In order to look at these two questions and possibly be able to offer some answers, Mr. Cameron needs to ask further questions:

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?

5- In what ways are we living our highest values?

6- How are we working to embody the changes we wish to see in the world?

7- What projects, models or initiatives give us the greatest sense of hope?

8- How can we do well in life by doing good?

By their very nature, these questions involve thought and discussion around spirituality, ethics, morals and values, in contrast to what Mr. Cameron and his Tory Party have been pushing for since the late 1970s and the rise of the so-called Thatcherism, the era of greed, selfishness and individualism and shopping till you drop.

All in all, Mr. Cameron must realise and acknowledge that that our lives are connected not only to knowledge, power and money, but also to faith, love and wisdom. Unless the questions we ask encompass the full spectrum of these emotions and experiences, we’re unlikely to find the answers we are looking for, or to understand them in any depth, let alone solving problems and attaining goals.

In short, on Thursday Mr Cameron must try to truthfully reflect on and suggest pathways to how can we become agents of change for the common good?  How can we spark a new public conversation framed around human dignity and the common good?

Then, Mr. Cameron should try to raise the level of debate a bit higher, by inviting the participants to join him and together to:

Imagine a political system that puts the public first.  Imagine the economy and markets serving people rather than the other way round.  Imagine us placing values of respect, fairness, interdependence, and mutuality at the heart of our economy. Imagine an economy that gives everyone their fair share, at least an appropriate living wage, and no zero-hour contracts.  Imagine where jobs are accessible and fulfilling, producing useful things rather than games of speculation and casino capitalism.  Imagine where wages support lives rather than an ever expanding chasm between the top 1% and the rest.  Imagine a society capable of supporting everyone’s needs, and which says no to greed.  Imagine unrestricted access to an excellent education, healthcare, housing and social services.  Imagine hunger being eliminated, no more food banks and soup kitchens.  Imagine each person having a place he/she can call home.  Imagine all senior citizens living a dignified and secure life.  Imagine all the youth leading their lives with ever-present hope for a better world.  Imagine a planet protected from the threat of climate change now and for the generations to come. Imagine no more wars, but dialogue, conversation and non-violent resolution of conflicts. Imagine a world free of corruption!

All in all, in seeking to realise and build this world, we need to discover that the deepest and most difficult questions with which we wrestle are problems of value — right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, just and unjust, worthy or unworthy, dignified or abhorrent, love or hatred, cooperation or competition, selflessness or selfishness, prosperity or poverty, profit or loss.

Human beings have explored these many questions of value through religion, philosophy, the creation of art and literature, and more.  Indeed, questions of value have inaugurated many disciplines within the humanities and continue to drive them today.  Questions and conversations about values and valuing are fundamental to what it means to be human, but rarely become the subject of explicit public reflection.

In all, Mr. Cameron must thus move the debate from the usual concentration and emphasis on economic growth, money and more money, profit and more profit, to the values needed to restore trust, humanity, ethics and the common good in all we do, without which nobody in the world can sincerely tackle the rise in global corruption.

Mr. Cameron should remind the participants that in seeking to answer life's pertinent questions, and to understand the world better, they need to discover the world not just as it is, but also how it ought to be. Indeed, the deepest and most difficult questions with which we wrestle are problems of values — right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, just and unjust, worthy or unworthy, dignified or abhorrent, love or hatred, cooperation or competition, selflessness or selfishness, progress and poverty, profit and loss.

Human beings have explored these many questions of value through religion, philosophy, the creation of art and literature, and more. Indeed, questions of value have inaugurated many disciplines within the humanities and continue to drive them today. Questions and conversations about values and valuing are fundamental to what it means to be human, but rarely become the subject of explicit public reflection.

As it has been observed throughout history, in action and thought, we 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 well-being, contentment and happiness; as well as our relationship with others, with nature and Mother Earth, to mention but a few.

What are the values we need to build a better world? We all have our preferences and ideas.

We in the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) have developed a model of what it would look like to put values such as love, generosity and caring for the common good into socio-political and economic practice, suggesting possibilities for healing and transforming our world, which I very much like to share with Mr. Cameron, and to invite him to talk about these kind of values, as he embarks to tackle corruption:

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-civilisational 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 wellbeing

We value a sense of adventure

We value people, communities and cultures

We value friendship, cooperation and responsibility

In conclusion, I very much like to remind Mr. Cameron of his first speech as prime minister outside No 10 Downing Street on 11 May 2010, very relevant to his current desire to combat the huge rise in global corruption.

“Above all it will be a government that is built on some clear values. Values of freedom, values of fairness, and values of responsibility.”

Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to form a new government and I have accepted.

Before I talk about that new government, let me say something about the one that has just passed.

Compared with a decade ago, this country is more open at home and more compassionate abroad and that is something we should all be grateful for and on behalf of the whole country I'd like to pay tribute to the outgoing prime minister for his long record of dedicated public service.

In terms of the future, our country has a hung parliament where no party has an overall majority and we have some deep and pressing problems - a huge deficit, deep social problems, a political system in need of reform.

For those reasons I aim to form a proper and full coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats

I believe that is the right way to provide this country with the strong, the stable, the good and decent government that I think we need so badly.

Nick Clegg and I are both political leaders that want to put aside party differences and work hard for the common good and for the national interest.

I believe that is the best way to get the strong government that we need, decisive government that we need today.

I came into politics because I love this country. I think its best days still lie ahead and I believe deeply in public service.

And I think the service our country needs right now is to face up to our really big challenges, to confront our problems, to take difficult decisions, to lead people through those difficult decisions, so that together we can reach better times ahead.

One of the tasks that we clearly have is to rebuild trust in our political system. Yes that's about cleaning up expenses, yes that is about reforming parliament, and yes it is about making sure people are in control - and that the politicians are always their servant and never their masters.

But I believe it is also something else. It is about being honest about what government can achieve. Real change is not what government can do on its own - real change is when everyone pulls together, comes together, works together, where we all exercise our responsibilities to ourselves, to our families, to our communities and to others.

And I want to help try and build a more responsible society here in Britain. One where we don't just ask what are my entitlements, but what are my responsibilities.

One where we don't ask what am I just owed, but more what can I give.

And a guide for that society - that those that can should, and those who can't we will always help.

I want to make sure that my government always looks after the elderly, the frail the poorest in our country.

We must take everyone through with us on some of the difficult decisions we have ahead.

Above all it will be a government that is built on some clear values. Values of freedom, values of fairness, and values of responsibility.

I want us to build an economy that rewards work. I want us to build a society with stronger families and stronger communities. And I want a political system that people can trust and look up to once again.

This is going to be hard and difficult work. A coalition will throw up all sorts of challenges.

But I believe together we can provide that strong and stable government that our country needs based on those values - rebuilding family, rebuilding community, above all, rebuilding responsibility in our country.

Those are the things I care about. Those are the things that this government will now start work on doing.

Thank you very much.

Here you have it Mr. Cameron. I wish you good luck and best wishes in your struggle to cleanup the world; make it a better place for the common good; something that you had promised the British people on 11 May 2010. May this be your lasting legacy. The opportunity is upon you. Please seize it.  Carpe Diem!