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message no. 61

in reply to :

replied to by :
Summary No. 2 (October 28 - November 3, 2002)
Values For a WP Need to be Values for the Whole Humankind

Arnaud BLIN
WP21 team





Abstract

More self- introductions from South America, the United States, Europe and Asia. Generally, one sensed great enthusiasm and some skepticism. Launch of the discussion: values that could be laid as the foundation of a World Parliament need to be the values of humankind as a whole. Instead of underlining the differences between cultures, one should establish a system that promotes their common thread. The blending of civilizations, rather than their clash, around areas of concern could function around the principle of a "community of ideas" where a consensus might be reached that reflects the main preoccupations of the inhabitants of the planet.


For this second synthesis we will again devote a large part of the weekly summary to introductions while easing gradually into the topic of the month: values, principles, and purpose.

New introductions

This week saw another high number of self-introductions. I was very impressed by the high level of enthusiasm that pervaded all these messages. Clearly, the idea of a world parliament seems to generate a keen interest among people. One of the messages suggested that we discuss these important, and indeed very serious issues, without losing our sense of humor, which seems to be a very sensible way to approach the forum. Others echoed this feeling by suggesting that we try to have a pleasant and enjoyable time with this discussion. Some already warned to be careful not to let one ideology dominate the discussion. Overall, I sensed both great interest in the idea of a world parliament and some skepticism that it might one day see the light. As one participant suggested, the future is unknowable and thus should be treated with respect.

Spanish was the dominant language of origin this week, a good counter balance to the French and English dominated discussion of last week. A majority of messages came from South America, including Brazil with three - two from the North East region -, Argentina, Peru and Ecuador. A couple individuals wrote from France, a couple from the United States. One person sent a message from Malaysia. A seasoned traveler with a Dutch passport and a Haitian working in Miami completed the list. Several individuals alluded to the fact one's nationality bears less and less relevance in an age of globalization. As we all know too well, nationalism was the dominant ideology of the twentieth century and one gets the impression here that it might be time to move on.

The general feeling one gets reading these introductions is that we all feel a certain sense responsibility for the future of the planet. Environmental issues and animal rights rank high in people's minds. Professional backgrounds were somewhat similar to last week's with a significant number of introductions from lawyers, economists and professors. Ages ranged from 22 to 86, showing how these issues concern both the young and the not quite as young. I was also impressed by the quality and range of the activities undertaken by the participants. There are a lot of innovative ways in which people try to tackle some basic problems such as poverty. It is encouraging to see that a lot of these initiatives are grass roots, and run independently of any government activity.

From these descriptions, it is all the more clear that governments around the world are failing to deal with issues they are supposed to address. On the other hand, it is also evident that citizens groups are getting increasingly organized at the local level and are able to obtain significant results. The various experiences, which are all too real, described in these messages, tend to validate the basic proposition of this forum that something needs to be done from the bottom up to the global level.

Initial discussion: values, principles, and purpose

This leads us directly to the discussion. For the first month of the forum, the debate is very general before heading to more specific and technical issues. It starts with a discussion on values, principles, and purpose. Since we do not know what a world parliament will look like, defining the values and principles upon which it can be based will lead us to understand better what its purpose might be. In doing so, we keep in mind that our goal is not to reach agreement on everything but to explore the breadth of opinion and see where we agree and disagree and how we may be able to move towards a more holistic consensus. I will attempt to summarize the ideas articulated by the participants who contributed. The viewpoints summarized do not necessarily represent those of the forum coordinators or the entirety of the forum's participants.

Since the breadth of the topic is so wide, there were suggestions as to how to organize the discussion. Following is an example of a possible approach: a) a historical reference to understand globalization, b) the human being's behavior, a central figure of this history, from sociological, anthropological, psychological and spiritual perspectives, and c) the social behavior and inside it the economic behavior.

Unequivocally, this week's contributions all seemed to converge around the same idea, namely that the values that could be laid as the foundation of a World Parliament need to be the values of humankind as a whole. It also transpired that these values are already shared by many since we are a global community of common interests. These values grow in a decentralized way but a World Parliament can be the place where they might meet. It is clear to some of our participants that the purpose of states is *not* to promote or defend such values. Some participants feel that states are primarily guided by a restrictive notion of national interest and they use the currency of power, including economic power, to further their interests, regardless of its impact on other states. Thus, a world parliament of states would not promote the common interest but would rather perpetuate with other means the same old values that do not correspond to the purpose of the global community. By the same token, a parliament of "cultures" would in the end yield the same result with dominant cultures overshadowing smaller ones. A true world parliament should be different from this.

Instead of underlining the differences between cultures, one should establish a system that promotes their common thread. The blending of civilizations, rather than their clash, around areas of concern could function around the principle of a "community of ideas" where a consensus might be reached that reflects the main preoccupations of the inhabitants of the planet. In order to found such a community of ideas, one needs to determine the basic values that form a common trunk for all of humanity. Such values could be peace, democracy and clarity. Another way to look at it would be to define two levels of values, primary and secondary. One participant presented the following example of what these "primary" values could be: Solidarity and Respect; Transparency and Coherence; Responsibility. To these, we could add "secondary values" such as Protection; real Representation; Flexibility and Adaptability; and "Ci-terrestrial-ship" (Earth citizenship).

The purpose behind these primary and secondary values would be to help establish a society respectful of every living being, *human* or *not human*, on a preserved earth knowing that a global government giving to all humans a life in the dignity and in the respect of the fundamental needs is indispensable. That being said, a parliament that would achieve this goal would be futile if it allowed the massacre of the ecosystems and the exploitation without conscience of species leading an ecological disaster. Nevertheless, having common values should not blind one to the fact that different people may have different needs. Having communities decide for themselves should be the guiding light behind the purpose of a world parliament.
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