Spirit of Humanity Forum: on Love and Compassion

Last week, the second Spirit of Humanity forum was held in Reykjavik. This Forum is a new global platform of leaders in politics, business, education, environment, science, peace-building, spirituality, etc, who are ready to explore how universal human values can lead to systemic change in organisations, communities and even nations. The Forum brings and presents concrete examples of values-driven projects in society with the purpose of creating a new ‘community of practitioners’ among world leaders. Ruud Lubbers, former Prime Minister of The Netherlands and Earth Charter Commissioner, was one of the prominent speakers. We will share part of his inspiring words in this blog.

“I would like to share my thoughts on two important questions: Why are we interested in love and compassion in governance now? How can these core values play a key role in shifting our society’s overall culture?

I am here on behalf of the Earth Charter. A commitment to come to an Earth Charter was made in Rio de Janeiro 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development. After 8 years of dialogue with civil society, ethical, spiritual and religious movements all over the world, the Earth Charter was agreed upon in 2000 at Unesco Headquarters in Paris. The last sentence of the Preamble of the Earth Charter reads: ‘We the people of the Earth declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life and to future generations.’ This is what compassion means.

Eight years later, in 2008, the Earth Charter was complemented with the Charter of Compassion. I salute Karen Armstrong as I do with Hans Kung, who united the Religions in a Declaration for Global Ethics. As a former politician and Professor on Globalization, I also sat down with the Dalai Lama, the Art of Living Foundation Ravi Shankar in India, and my beloved Brahma Kumaris.

All those meetings brought me to proposing as the concluding words of the Earth Charter: the Joyful Celebration of Life.

Today, I would also like to draw your attention to Martha Nussbaum’s latest book “Political Emotions. Why Love Matters for Justice”. This book is about nations, politics and justice, but putting love in the centre is remarkable. Like the Charter of Compassion, this book complements the Earth Charter, the Joyful Celebration of Life and Governance to achieve a truly Common Future, for which a shift in our societies’ overall culture is key.

In a seemingly divided world, I can only say: “We, all mankind together, have to overcome”.