‘The Power Of Living In Truth’ Jeffery D Sachs December 22, 2011Posted by @Karen_Fu in ethics, human quality, real power.
Tags: humanity, Jeffery D Sachs, Power, sustainability, sustainable living, Truth
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I really like the whole message that Prof Sachs has written and posted online. Though there is Law in place, the justice is never really quite done. But I suppose where there is darkness, there is also light. Where it will cast a shadow to those who are hideous. I don’t think I need to add anything more but I will quote from this site :
NEW YORK – The world’s greatest shortage is not of oil, clean water, or food, but of moral leadership. With a commitment to truth – scientific, ethical, and personal – a society can overcome the many crises of poverty, disease, hunger, and instability that confront us. Yet power abhors truth, and battles it relentlessly. So let us pause to express gratitude to Václav Havel, who died this month, for enabling a generation to gain the chance to live in truth.
Havel was a pivotal leader of the revolutionary movements that culminated in freedom in Eastern Europe and the end, 20 years ago this month, of the Soviet Union. Havel’s plays, essays, and letters described the moral struggle of living honestly under Eastern Europe’s Communist dictatorships. He risked everything to live in truth, as he called it – honest to himself and heroically honest to the authoritarian power that repressed his society and crushed the freedoms of hundreds of millions.
He paid dearly for this choice, spending several years in prison and many more under surveillance, harassment, and censorship of his writings. Yet the glow of truth spread. Havel gave hope, courage, and even fearlessness to a generation of his compatriots. When the web of lies collapsed in November 1989, hundreds of thousands of Czechs and Slovaks poured into the streets to proclaim their freedom – and to sweep the banished and jailed playwright into Prague Castle as Czechoslovakia’s newly elected president.
I personally witnessed the power of living in truth in that year, when the leadership of Poland’s Solidarity movement asked me to help Poland with its transition to democracy and a market economy – part of what the Poles called their “return to Europe.” I met and was profoundly inspired by many in the region who, like Havel, lived in truth: Adam Michnik, Jacek Kuron, Bronislaw Geremek, Gregorsz Lindenberg, Jan Smolar, Irena Grosfeld, and, of course, Lech Walesa. These brave men and women, and those like Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Leszek Balcerowicz, who led Poland during its first steps in freedom, succeeded through their combination of courage, intellect, and integrity.
The power of truth-telling that year created a dazzling sense of possibility, for it proved the undoing of one of history’s most recalcitrant hegemonies: Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Michnik, like Havel, radiated the joy of fearless truth. I asked him in July 1989, as Poland’s communist regime was already unraveling, when freedom would reach Prague. He replied, “By the end of the year.”
“How do you know?” I asked. “I was just with Havel in the mountains last week,” he said. “Have no fear. Freedom is on the way.” His forecast was correct, of course, with a month to spare.
Just as lies and corruption are contagious, so, too, moral truth and bravery spreads from one champion to another. Havel and Michnik could succeed in part because of the miracle of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who emerged from a poisoned system, yet who valued truth above force. And Gorbachev could triumph in part because of the sheer power of honesty of his countryman, Andrei Sakharov, the great and fearless nuclear physicist who also risked all to speak truth in the very heart of the Soviet empire – and who paid for it with years of internal exile.
These pillars of moral leadership typically drew upon still other examples, including that of Mahatma Gandhi, who called his autobiography The Story of My Experiments With Truth. They all believed that truth, both scientific and moral, could ultimately prevail against any phalanx of lies and power. Many died in the service of that belief; all of us alive today reap the benefits of their faith in the power of truth in action.
Havel’s life is a reminder of the miracles that such a credo can bring about; yet it is also a reminder of the more somber fact that truth’s victories are never definitive. Each generation must adapt its moral foundations to the ever-changing conditions of politics, culture, society, and technology.
Havel’s death comes at a time of massive demonstrations in Russia to protest ballot fraud; violence in Egypt as democratic activists battle the deeply entrenched military; an uprising in rural China against corrupt local officials; and police in body armor violently dismantling the Occupy protest sites in American cities. Power and truth remain locked in combat around the world.
Much of today’s struggle – everywhere – pits truth against greed. Even if our challenges are different from those faced by Havel, the importance of living in truth has not changed.
Today’s reality is of a world in which wealth translates into power, and power is abused in order to augment personal wealth, at the expense of the poor and the natural environment. As those in power destroy the environment, launch wars on false pretexts, foment social unrest, and ignore the plight of the poor, they seem unaware that they and their children will also pay a heavy price.
Moral leaders nowadays should build on the foundations laid by Havel. Many people, of course, now despair about the possibilities for constructive change. Yet the battles that we face – against powerful corporate lobbies, relentless public-relations spin, and our governments’ incessant lies – are a shadow of what Havel, Michnik, Sakharov, and others faced when taking on brutal Soviet-backed regimes.
In contrast to these titans of dissent, we are empowered with the instruments of social media to spread the word, overcome isolation, and mobilize millions in support of reform and renewal. Many of us enjoy minimum protections of speech and assembly, though these are inevitably hard won, imperfect, and fragile. Yet, of the profoundest importance and benefit, we are also blessed with the enduring inspiration of Havel’s life in truth.
Jeffrey D. Sachs is Professor of Economics and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2011.
Tags: change, human extinction, human survival, life design, space, Stephen Hawking, sustainability
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I feel Dr Hawkings has over emphasized in the logic of hard core Sciences for survival. For if there is lack of humanity in various ethical thoughts, that our human race would perish despite technological advances.
There are certain uncanny ways about how life and the universe works which perhaps is incomprehensivable even by science. Despite the rules that human mind research could delve into in their individual ways and feelings about how things work. I think we have not developed till that stage where the entire universe can be fully comprehend, else we will not have developed new problems that need new solutions to solve. If we have genuinely understood the root concept of problem solving, we will not problems sprouting out from existing ones. We could have simply sort the problem spot on.
Many of these problems simply morph in form. Not loosing an ounce in essence, the solutions usually require a far more complex way of solving.
If we need to sustain our race beyond the next 100 years or so, we need to find the root problem as to why we have come to this dire point. The thinking process doesn’t require a mere escape in the physical space we live.
I have no doubt that one day our race will eventually be left with no choice but to emmigrate to space. That is if we cannot change what what we have been doing in time. The future living space may well be mars; it may well be a human made platform or synthetic space ground for our future generations to live on. Under a totally new environment, a brand new set of problems will sufface if we cannot face out our own humanisitc problems in thought which controls our decisions that shape our living space on earth.
There is no doubt that the brilliance of the human mind could also solve some of the toughest scientific problems around. However, I have the feeling that we may be dwelling in linear thought or rather we are moving into a history old, seemingly genetically formulated code in our genes into digging more deeper holes and simply swapping spaces for our root problem —- the pertinent issue that we refuse to face the daunting thought that we have been bending rules of nature which is the result for our current dire situation.
We have not changed much in the area of survival. Human greed has not been changed much for centuries and let history be told, whether in total truth or with partial biasness, that our forebearers have merely altered their way of being selfish and that technological knowhow has been used to further exploit in the most uncanny of ways.
There is no doubt that we would eventually be living in space if our existing problems cannot be eradicated in time. It may well be we cannot sort them at all. Climate and land changes have proved in reality of the impending outcome of extiction if we still live on this planet. We have almost depleted our natural resources and also at the expense of other living species in any form for the sole selfishness of just one specie, and that is us.
We need to be truthfully honest about what we and our forebearers have done and how our past and existing thinking had maketh us our own assassinators for our own sustainable survival.
Our knowledge in humanities, science & technology should continue advancing in depth and in width. But we need a source of change that directs us to genuine sustainablity. And that is to make a real conscience about who we are and what we need to do. Not with the impurity of new so-called colours that smudge; but with the eventual outcome of being totally pure as light that will shine us into ever lasting exisitence.
And that one of the several human components may well be a far simpler thought: and that is ethics of sharing, loving and to be far less menacing & hypocritical in today’s fast advancing, pragmatic life of selfish materialism. We are all in a way guilty. Perhaps via the way of doing bit of good everyday and have a far more daring gut toadmit fault & make every modest good step forward; we may perhaps create a miracle that science and religion will be most happy to jot down in our human history.
It’s really a collaborative effort.
Got to run off now. It’s a very quick one-off draft. I want to write more. But I have to go off for now. —- Karen Fu