The Caux Round Table 2023 Global Dialogue concluded last Thursday with participant agreement on two observations and one recommendation:
First, our global community systemically lacks leaders. Many have power over others in government, business and civil society, but too few use their power to advance the common good.
Secondly, our global community is in a disorderly transition from a past coherence to an uncertain future. We are experiencing aggressions and potential aggressions, dissolutions and divisiveness, all leading to a global disempowering anxiety arising from worrisome uncertainty and mistrust of institutional authority.
Thirdly, our global community can rise about our time of troubles with a re-commitment to comprehensive personal responsibility.
Personal responsibility implies relationship – with those to whom we are responsible or for whom we are responsible. Responsibility is at the apex of social capital. It balances individuality with collective well-being. Taken to extremes, assertion of our personal rights encourages egocentricity and so can undermine the common weal. Where we impose on others and they on us, there is no justice.
But when responsibility gives moral guidance to rights, society can achieve balance and equilibrium conducive to justice and happiness for all.
Where Confucius advocated “reciprocity” as the most important word of all, Aristotle advocated following the “mean,” Jesus spoke of each doing unto others as if they were ourselves, the Qur’an advises that we should keep the balance (mizan) and the Buddha advocated following a middle path, we should listen and accordingly assume our due responsibilities. Doing so will naturally position us to do well for ourselves and good to others.
Being responsible implies that there should be limits to our self-seeking. When responsibility is associated with leadership, stewardship results. The leader assumes fiduciary duties to serve the community.
Therefore, to enjoy social justice and happiness, we need a balance of responsible leadership in government, business and civil society. Each sector has its particular responsibilities, all of which contribute to a wholesome community as follows:
I want to send you this preliminary report of my personal takeaways from our global dialogue discussions. Our fellow, John Dalla Costa, is preparing a more comprehensive documentation of the many most interesting points raised in our sessions.