The final plenary session of the State of the World Forum began today (Nov 1) with a challenge from Forum president Jim Garrison: a challenge to take these six days of deep discussions by brilliant minds, this great feast of ideas, and transform them into actions that really make a difference.
Garrison used a short videotape of an earlier address by Lee Butler, retired four-star general and former Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Strategic Air Command, in which he laid out the issues in front of the community of mankind. Namely, whether the selfish interests of individual nations will be allowed to continue unabated until we destroy the planet. A battle for the very soul of mankind.
Former U.S. senator Alan Cranston followed. He said the number one issue for Earth was to abolish nuclear weapons. "If we don't do that and blow ourselves up, nothing else will matter."
Mr. Cranston said the world had made tremendous progress towards that end, by using a two-pronged strategy: First, at the elite level, by talking to governments and leaders. Secondly, at the grass roots level, through public action and keeping the pressure on those leaders.
Other speakers touched on the high points and key initiatives of this year's forum:
* Kumar Rupesinghe, European director of the State of the World Forum spoke of co-existence and community building. He said "the positive value has to be shown" - meaning nation-states must see how peaceful coexistence was actually in their self-interest. He also proposed that co-existence be taught in schools, just like math and reading, if the world is to reach that elusive goal of a truly peaceful civilization.
*Marcello Palazzi, a businessman and social entrepreneur, said the initiative aimed to reach out to business leaders. "It's not about fundraising, it's about involving business in the issues of culture and social cohesion."
*Art historian, philosopher and painter Dr. T.F. Chen won a rousing round of applause when he reminded his audience that while immersing ourselves in the world's problems and great issues should not allow us to forget art.
"As we welcome the new century, I would like to offer a new term, " Chen proposed. "Not only do we need hardware and software, we need soulware."
Former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, Wally N'Dow, followed with the principles agreed upon in plenary sessions focusing on "Our Common Enterprise." This major strategic initiative of the State of the World Forum is to be presented to the United Nations in the September, 2000. That is when the State of the World Forum is set to convene parallel with the Millennium General Assembly of the U.N.
Mr. N'Dow listed some of those principles: global security, particularly concerning armaments; co-existence; the search for social inclusion; integration of youth, developing the media necessary to enhance public understanding; working with the U.N; co-operative global conversation; a world that works for everyone, and upgrading the security and quality of life.
Finally, Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, provided a little effectiveness training to energize his audience. He said it was one thing to have truth and vision, but quite another thing to be effective.
Mr. Covey said first and foremost, people must have integrity.
"You can never accomplish a worthy end without worthy means. Always be loyal to those not present, those who might think differently. Never become program-centered, be purpose-centered." Covey advised.
"Don't be exclusive, be inclusive. You can be critical, but don't be destructive."
He added it was vital that people struggle to understand the essence of another person's position.That was because once a person truly understood, and the other person knew he or she was understood, synergy began to be created.