The culture of goodwill facing the culture of failure.
We are living a global emergency. Aside from the war on terror and its multifaceted implications on nations, there is the issue of growing inequality, with the richest 1 percent of the world population owning as much as everyone else in terms of assets and wealth, the issue of climate change and that of escalation of conflicts over scarce resources.
All of that has put the global citizen in a conflict of mind and conduct, whereby he/she has to choose between resilience and action, be it good or bad. The conflict between the values of "failure" that breed impasse, hatred, separation and often violence on one hand and that of goodwill, understanding, cooperation and sharing on the other becomes grave.
The question is whether we are really willing to create a change for our betterment. How are we creating that change? And how can we take part?
One interesting reaction is goodwill. Goodwill is a great untapped resource in every human society. It is the common platform on which all races and creeds can meet. There's a lot of goodwill initiatives around the world, most of which are veiled. How can we promote them so that people know they themselves can do something to bring the positive change to society and let constructive human acts prevail over the spirit of failure, resilience and/or destructive deeds?
World examples are plenty, but many of us still need to understand the culture of goodwill to guide us in our daily life. People of goodwill sense this new world responsibility. They think deeply and innocently in terms of the whole. It is that disguised unused power that gives us hope and faith that we can still be better.
Nelson Mandela is one pioneer of goodwill "architects" in our contemporary world. By sacrificing his life to bring peace and social justice to his nation, he evokes the sense of responsibility to many capable international figures. As such, goodwill ambassadors are being recognized, designated and spread worldwide, under the umbrella of many international organizations, notably the United Nations. I esteem in this regard Angelina Jolie at least for helping to put a smile, among other endeavors, on thousands of deprived children around the world, while many other figures who are more powerful yet remain sluggish in responding to the many inhuman violence around them.
On another scale, I venerate Bahia Hariri not as a goodwill ambassador but rather as a goodwill initiator in her many social and human deeds, particularly that of supporting Lebanese women to exert their innate power, even if discretely, knowing that they constitute the core engine for any social change. I revere her for her impatience to act and her refusal to surrender to the culture of failure and resilience that most of us, people and leaders of Lebanon, have been adopting for long now.
All such initiatives convey one thing: If we want to act we can act. It's the will, the inner will, the goodwill. That's what is missing in our conscience.
Amid the government inaction in face of the continuous crises hitting our country, we still need to shift our thinking from the culture of "doomed failure" to that of "goodwill." We may regain our country by propagating goodwill actions, both at the micro and macro levels. Encouraging influential people may have a great impact, but so can every one of us. The act of goodwill within oneself begins by respecting his/her environment, to respecting the communication with the other, to actually helping the other in need, all of which leading us all to coexist in a peaceful promising life while confronting together our joint challenges.
Lebanon now has been witnessing a lot of international mobility, from the visit of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to that of the French President Francois Hollande. Despite all the political and strategic implications such initiatives may have entailed, one can take the positive side of them as an act of goodwill toward the country. These initiatives are telling us that international aid is still available, even if it's mostly tailored to the issue of Syrian refugees, but this should also incite us to focus on how to benefit wisely so as to preserve what is left of Lebanon as a civil state.
Also here, the private sector in Lebanon can play an important role in applying that energy of goodwill in the business world. It can further promote the entrepreneurial spirit and problem-solving to many pressing societal problems, mainly through its corporate social responsibility. By using the tools already at their disposal, business leaders can strengthen social entrepreneurship as a career that can actually make a big difference, giving hope to the youth that they can still learn and stay here rather than learn and go anywhere else to prosper and rise.
As the great 13th-century Sufi Ibn Arabi wrote, the principle of existence is movement. We lack the act of action. We need to move. And we don't have to have an organized unitary movement or plan for our various goodwill initiatives. There's no uniformity of people. We are diverse and that we should be. There can be uniformity of purpose and approach, but not uniformity in action. So let's move the goodwill in us.
Dima El Hassan is the director of Programs at the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.
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