Ambassador Ragnar Ängeby, a former Swedish diplomat and one of the founders of Spirit of Humanity Forum, presents some thoughts behind the Forum.
The practice of violence and force is a dominating feature in our daily information flow. It is about domestic violence in our homes, work places and on our streets. It is about acts of terror and outbreaks of full scale war. Also decisions, taken in the economic field, have dire effects on people’s living conditions.
Through our daily information flow, we realise that fear, narrow-mindedness and nationalism may still become the basis for new leadership. But the positive elements are, indeed, dominating current events and positive action is more prominent in reality, although it doesn’t seem so in the media. In fact, there is economic growth and development, more people having basic education and, in conflicts, we know that people give up violence for dialogue.
In whatever ways decisions are taken in the world, the effect and the efficiency of these decisions must be discussed from a human perspective. In present times, it is even more important to nourish and enlighten the elements of our common human values, and consolidate all the voices of hope for humanity which do exist.
We need to give more space to a humanity that cares for compassion and love, honesty and respect, and other basic spiritual values which are part of our common human heritage. Ultimately, as individuals, it is about how we engage in change linked to those values.
“You speak like a Muslim!”
I received this comment from the Director of ‘The Institute for interpretation of sharia and fatwa’ after a five-day seminar on values–based dialogue and peace reconciliation held in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).
“With my Christian background, I talk about values that humanity has in common,” I replied.
In the today’s world, there is a need to base our decisions, on any issue, on values. Values that are deeply rooted in global and manifold human capacity and culture. We can look upon the world in its entirety, but also from the perspective of the everyday life of the individual. The human values guiding us are constantly present.
Some years ago, from different cultures and perspectives of life, we were a few individuals who took the initiative to organise a series of conversations. We were looking for common human and spiritual values on which to build a foundation for decision-making in different fields of activity and on different levels in a global context. Our starting point was that we all live as humans with a common capacity to let our actions be guided by values expressed through our unique spiritual ability. Such values are love and compassion, respect for integrity, and honesty in words and actions.
All changes have to start within ourselves
We assume that all human beings have a natural capacity to get to know themselves, who they are, through prayer, meditation and/or other spiritual activities and, as a result, develop into better human beings. We believe that all changes have to start within ourselves.
As one of the initiators of the Spirit of Humanity Forum, I come from a perspective of international peacebuilding through my Christian background, and my work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Swedish International Developing Agency. Others, for example, come from traditions of Indian meditation and yoga, conventional Euro-American Quaker background, the Islamic world and Jewish-European humanism.
The purpose of our initiative is to create a permanent international forum for dialogue on how mutual human values can create a foundation for decisions. Love, respect and honesty could consequently have a stronger influence on the local and global environment in different fields and on different levels.
A global movement for values-based decision-making
The Spirit of Humanity Forum held meetings, including two big meetings in Reykjavik 2012 and 2014 (around 350 participants). Those meetings were arranged in collaboration with the former Mayor of Reykjavik (Jon Gnarr) and with the support of the former President of Iceland (Ólafur Ragnar Grimson).
People with leading positions in different fields and from all the continents and major cultures have participated in the meetings of the Forum. Through the Internet and meeting in person, they continue the broad dialogue started and developed in Reykjavik. The goal is to create a global movement for values-based decision-making through which a process of changes in society could contribute to a better life for all.
The next Spirit of Humanity Forum is taking place in Reykjavik 26-29 April 2017. You are most welcome to read about this event on our homepage www.sohforum.org or perhaps to participate!
I am looking forward to seeing and listening to you.