The Words of the Song Family
London, UK -- Sustainability, Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh explained at a forum on "What Values Define Sustainability" is a normative concept. The purpose of the UPF-UK July 6 gathering at the House of Lords was to consider the moral framework for sustainable development. Lawrence Bloom asked whether humankind will survive the intelligence test posed by the current crisis. This challenge was not simply of economy or the environment but whether humanity could embrace values based on a sustainable worldview.
Dr. Yong Cheon Song, Chair of UPF-Europe, described initiatives of UPF's founder, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, to prepare for this crisis of values over the last 40 years, through programs of good governance and character education, scholarly bodies to consider absolute values, and initiatives to expand ocean-related industries as well as investments in land to preserve precious ecological systems. Jack Corley described the character education courses he had developed in China and Russia to refocus on core issues such as finding happiness through living for the sake of others, primarily learned and practiced in the family.
Lawrence Bloom identified dimensions of crisis that are environmental, social, and economic but saw these as representations of something much deeper, a crisis of values. Our values reflect our worldview. So he challenged participants to ask themselves, "Is our world view sustainable?"
Quoting the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Shell scenario report looking at carbon emission levels, Bloom wondered what climate change trigger points have already been passed. Socially we can see the tensions created by economic cutbacks and political oppression in different parts of the world. The worldview of growth, prosperity, and well-being held by the developed nations of the west is not sustainable if followed by nations such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, and others who want to rise up out of poverty. While it has been successful for the last 200 years to elevate a proportion of the world's population, it is like a teenage level of maturity. There could easily be conflict over resources in the near future. One hundred years ago, no one could have predicted the tragedies of World Wars I and II. Are we standing on the brink of a similar situation? He concluded that we need a worldview that is based on a global ethical system that promotes harmony with each other and with our planet and political, economic, and social institutions that reflect that worldview.
Jack Corley identified the family as the core institution for teaching such a worldview. The place where we learn by example and practice relationships with younger and older siblings, relatives, and those in the wider community and with the nature around us is the family. He gave examples of his own life as one of ten children growing up on a farm in Ireland. He found it tragic that urban children could be so divorced from nature that some do not know that milk comes from a cow. Dr. Yong Cheon Song emphasized the prescient vision of Dr. Moon to develop oceanic and international transportation initiatives to preempt this crisis. These initiatives have been studied by scholarly bodies. The character education courses that he had developed were sometimes complemented by fishing training for young adults or in experiences in the natural environment of western Brazil that challenged many to re-examine their urban assumptions.
Julia Hausermann, President of Rights and Humanities, saw hope in the crisis from the international human rights law that recognizes the basic human rights of everybody. There is both a legal structure and an example of a moral compass through the human cooperation that brought these laws. She emphasized the need for a value system that was based on a truly global worldview. The model we have been using for the last 200 years has brought us a long way, she said, but we really have to learn to cooperate in a way that reflects our interrelationship with each other and the planet we live on.
China was a common theme in the discussion. Lawrence mentioned that China had a tradition of harmony with the environment and thus many in China were seeking that balance in development. Jack Corley had taught character education in China and had been working with the Ministry of Education to develop textbooks that would fill the moral vacuum that tends to accompany economic growth.
Lawrence Bloom is Executive Chairman of Bhairavi Energy. His current activities also include Chairman of the UN Environmental Program, Green Economy Initiative, Green Cities, and Buildings and Transport Council. He was the first Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Davos, Global Agenda Council on Urban Management and is currently an Alumnus of the whole network of Global Agenda Councils. He is a Vice Chair of the Climate Prosperity Alliance, a Senior Fellow and member of the Board of Directors of Global Urban Development, Co-Chair of the GUD program committee on Generating Sustainable Economic Development, and Vice Chairman of Climate Prosperity Strategies LLC.
Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the Academy of the Learned Societies for Social Sciences and a Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Westminster. Lord Parekh was chair of the Runnymede Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain (1998-2000), whose report, The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, was published in 2000.
Dr. Yong Cheon Song is the Chairman of the Universal Peace Federation in Europe. He guides the Federation's involvement in peace initiatives in the Balkans and European support for UPF's Middle East Peace Initiative, regular European Leadership Conferences providing innovative approaches to peace-building, programs supporting UN commemorative days, intercultural programs, interfaith dialogue and initiatives, developing national peace councils, and the Ambassador for Peace initiative. Prior to this, he was Chair of the Universal Peace Federation in Oceania.
Jack Corley was vice president of the International Educational Foundation and Regional Secretary General of UPF-Eurasia. He worked extensively in the People's Republic of China coordinating programs on character education. He was Assistant Secretary General of UPF International and currently serves as the director of UPF-Ireland as well as Chairman of UPF-UK.