Saturday, April 22, 2006

Values and Spirituality

Evalueserve is a Knowledge Partner of the Summit for the Future - May 3-5, 2006

by Aditya Joshi, Anshuman Dash, Evalueserve

Terrorism and conflict dominate the political landscape of most countries around the world. From Nepal to Columbia and from the Parisian suburbs to the streets of Grozny, Chechnya, differences between people and their opinion have transformed into bloody conflicts.

These conflicts originate mainly because of intolerance and a lack of commitment to a peaceful resolution of differences. Such a commitment to peace and progress through dialogue has to be brought about by restoring public faith in the immense potential of human values and dialogue as the means to resolving differences.

Values form the core of any individual. Application of these values results in development of ideas, formation of opinions and establishment of beliefs, influencing relationships with surroundings and one’s kind. These values inspire an individual to be virtuous as well as to be imaginative and inventive in his or her approach, leading to advancement.

Dialogue and Conflict

A continuous interaction between the values of an individual and those of other members of society gives rise to the collective thought of society. This continuous dialogue on values and collective thought processes is the fundamental mode of their evolution. Evolution thus reinvents these values and thought processes to make them relevant for their subscribers as the times change. This dialogue is essential to the progress of humanity. According to Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard University, from his book The Argumentative Indian, it is due to the tradition of open argument and public dialogue that India has been able to create a plural society with many religions co-existing and flourishing. In fact, this argumentative tradition has contributed to cementing the integrity of this vast and diverse nation.

The halt of the dialogue amongst thought processes leads to a lack of mutual understanding amongst people and consequently, significantly increases the risk of conflict between the subscribers of different thought processes. This establishes the necessity of dialogue as the fundamental mode to avoid conflict. At this juncture, it is important to note that conflicts that continued for years, such as the struggle for abolition of apartheid in South Africa and the struggle for India’s liberation from the British Empire, were resolved through dialogue and peaceful means. It is also important to note that in both these struggles, armed conflicts, in form riots or wars, did not result in any significant progress.

The Role of Faith

Faith is a result of the comfort that an individual finds from a relative certitude displayed by kin and surroundings. Faith promotes greater interdependence amongst people. In return for this peace of mind and sense of security, the individual aspires to be more responsible and useful to those whom he depends on.

As a result, faith establishes bonhomie amongst people and facilitates the continuous dialogue process, which is essential for evolution of their values and thought. Also, faith ensures civility by reposing the trust of people in society, authorities and governments. This establishes faith as a fundamental ingredient in maintaining peace and harmony and as a driver of human progress.

Understanding Identity

It is an innate need of an individual to communicate and to be understood. This necessitates proper avenues where he can express himself as well as an audience that is willing to understand and appreciate his or her views. A lack of such forums, leads to marginalization of people, leaving an individual dissatisfied and frustrated. Such a situation may force them to resort to violence in order to make themselves heard.

In order to understand an individual completely, a complete understanding of different facets of this person’s life is important. Identity should not be ascribed to only profession, religion, ethnicity or nationality. In fact, such a reduction of one’s identity also leads to marginalization. Often, discrimination is a result of their identification with a certain religion and not with their identities as teachers, engineers, parents, students or scientists etc. This highlights the importance of plural identities of people. Understanding plural identities is key to keeping away dissatisfaction and hopelessness and thereby ensuring peace and progress.

Leadership and Progress

In order to resolve the wars and conflicts in the world today, bold decisions need to be taken on several issues, ranging from nuclear non-proliferation to environment, from street crime to religious freedom. A creative and pragmatic stewardship is very important to handle these issues and resolve them with the agreement of all concerned. Such leadership will not only have to find solutions to the problems of the present, but will have to think beyond to address the problems of the future; these leader will be fountainheads of ideas.

Umpteen examples of phenomenal leadership are buried in the annals of history. The role and the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian freedom struggle is one such example. Till the rise of Gandhi’s movement against the colonial rule of the British, except the US, no colony had liberated itself. The methods chosen by the Americans were that of armed struggle and wars, but what Gandhi was going to propose was revolutionary. His choice of passive non-violence as an aggressive posturing to achieve an independent peaceful India was result of his foresight that a civil and peaceful society cannot be founded on bloody wars. His realization that the disunity and lack of self-esteem amongst Indians is the major cause of India’s continues subjugation to the British rule. These were the targets of his movement. He never preached hatred towards the British. By liberating India, he not only ended two centuries of British rule but also gave the world an example of what peaceful means can achieve.

The leadership of Rev. Martin Luther King of the civil rights campaign in the US is also exemplary. His commitment to achieve equal rights for the African Americans through peaceful protests achieved more for his cause than violent racial riots. Also to be noted is his urge to integrate his followers with American society; he did not preach any revenge or retribution of any section of society to achieve his goal.

A last example is of Dr. Mohammed Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank, a microfinance organization in Bangladesh. His diagnosis that the cycle of poverty is vicious because the poor do not have the facilities to save any portion of their earnings revolutionized the approach to the issue of mass poverty. He conceptualized and executed a plan to extend financial and banking facilities to the poor led to the dramatic alleviation of their economic standard.

The sheer novelty of the ideas of such leaders not only addresses the issues at hand and but gives the world a new perspective to address issues of the future. The outmoded ways of leadership, of securing selfish interests and of exploiting public sentiments, should be relinquished. The new age leaders must look forward to lead the global thought rather than leading only a particular country or a section of society.

A greater integration of world’s peoples is an imperative for further progress of mankind. A pre-requisite for such integration is maturity in the global thought process that helps the mankind to move beyond the differences and focus on the synergies. Global thought needs to be led in a direction where we learn to value each individual, give him chance to flourish and resolve our difference with mutual respect and amity. The path to such a level of maturity would come through faith, understanding, compassion, persistence and at last, courageous leadership.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only dialouge the terrorists understand is the Word of God, the answer to world peace is here:


10:42 AM  
Blogger Pinkou said...

Only ignorant talk of Divinity and Fate: Vasistha taught Ram.
Divinity and Fate is Ignorance, Only Self Effort is Supreme!

2:28 PM  

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