Zanzibar, Tanzania | July 21 – 24, 2015
“Promoting Peace, Security and Sustainable Development in East Africa”
Let me begin by appreciating the distinguished panel for contributing their insights and inspiration to this important session.
As we all know, our world has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Technology and globalization are impacting the lives of people everywhere, driving change at a breathtaking pace. It is remarkable to note, for example, that this year the number of cell phones globally will reach 7.3 billion, exceeding the world’s total population. We can communicate, transact and travel with an ease previously unimaginable.
Yet with the great promise of this 21st century, we continue to face dire realities and ominous challenges, on every continent. Consider that:
• The BBC reports that every minute, two people are killed in conflicts around the world.
• According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die every day due to poverty. That means a child dies every 4 seconds.
Our most pressing challenge today is an ethical one. Our technology can gather massive data on our browsing habits and consumer preferences, but cannot help us to understand each other, respect each other, or forgive each other. General Omar Bradley most aptly described the dilemma we face, when he said:
“Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.”
We are faced with a significant gap between our external development and our ethical maturity. Technology has driven rapid development, but itself is value neutral. It can be used to improve the quality of life and well-being for all people, but can also be used for weapons of mass destruction. We are in dire need of ethical leadership, leadership with moral authority, because we are seriously limited by a values deficit, a debilitating shortfall in values that hampers our ability to realize the promise of the 21st century.
Great transformative leaders of the 20th century – Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mandela – were such persons of moral authority. A moral leader is guided by an ethical framework rooted in universal principles and shared values. A moral leader has integrity, and is committed to advance the greater good before self-interest. This framework that combines both moral and innovative characteristics as the necessary elements for leadership in our troubled world today, was first introduced by GPF Chairman, Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon, during our Global Peace Convention 2010 in Nairobi Kenya. He explains:
“Moral leadership is more precious for the future of a nation than gold, diamonds, or oil. It is guided by a common vision that reflects the most fundamental human aspirations, conforms to the universal spiritual principles that govern human life, and is expressed in shared moral values that can ultimately form a global ethic.”
On the foundation of a solid ethical framework, innovative leadership can tap the wellspring of innate human creativity, ingenuity, and the power of innovation so that they could be channeled to address even the most intractable social problems.
I want to note that Africa has this rising generation that the Ghanian economist, George Ayittey, has dubbed the “Cheetah Generation” and how they – which of course mean all of you here – are using the resources available to you through the power of the internet and communications technology at the grassroots that challenge slow moving and often corrupt or bureaucratic systems. And while these are great developments we need to ensure that these innovations are guided first by the moral aspect that seeks to serve the greater good.
If you adopt the framework of moral and innovative leadership, you are choosing to guide your path by the compass of time-honored truths, while you make full use of the tools of the 21st century. You can be leaders with integrity, who at the same time engage with personal and collective creativity to develop innovative solutions for our challenged world.
Let a noble vision guide your steps. Place your motivation on the highest plane. Tap your entrepreneurial and innovative spirit to dream big and act big – to build a world free of conflict and corruption, free of poverty and disease, and filled with opportunity and well-being for every member of the global human family.
Thank you for your kind attention.