Globalisation as context
The Vision and the Foundation emerges in the context of Globalisation. Globalisation is the Defining Reality of the world today.
It is a Reality with Contradictory Impulses:
While it drives unprecedented Growth and generation of Wealth, it simultaneously creates massive inequalities, economic exclusion, and poverty with its attendant effects;
While it has facilitated enormous Development and Progress in many fields, like technology, it has often done so at the expense of the natural world and the environment with concomitant results like Climate Change and Global Warming;
While it has given birth to the Information Revolution and the rapid expansion of Knowledge, it has consequently eroded the Traditional and Spiritual Values that have historically provided people with Meaning and Identity, and distorted irrevocably their sense of reality; and
While it has created tremendous Mobility of People across local, regional and national borders, there has been an attendant loss of Social Cohesion and the manifestation of nihilistic tendencies among marginalised and alienated people and groups.
This is the Reality to which the World for All wants to respond.
How do we create a world that is inclusive, integrated and accepting of difference?
Objectives for a better world
In the contradictory reality created by Globalisation, the World for All sets itself the following objectives:
The pursuit of Human Development and Social Justice so that the growth, development and progress created by globalisation can be shared more equitably within and between nations;
The positing of Holistic and Wholesome Lifestyles that make each of us agents of Environmental Sustainability, thus warding off the worst effects of a consumerist culture;
The exploration of shared Spiritual Foundations to our variety of Faiths and the commitment to a common ground that is based on a shared ethical and values-driven platform; and
The facilitation of Engagement across markers of Difference that could lead to conditions for Integration, Co-existence, and Co-operation, against the prevailing situation of isolation, suspicion and hostility.
These core objectives would traverse all the work of the World for All Foundation.
What are the Intellectual Tools to be used?
The basic propositions
To achieve the objectives of the World for All, a new set of Intellectual Tools would be required that go beyond the feel-good platitudes that characterise much of the engagements across markers of difference. Such tools need to be strong enough to withstand the toughest challenges to co-existence and co-operation.
We need an alternative paradigm to the Inertia of Traditional Orthodoxy as well as to the Nihilism of Fundamentalist Extremism.
We prefer to refer to this paradigm as Aqaba – the steep and difficult path, because it indicates a counter intuitive, creative and innovative way of thinking and doing;
We must underpin the Aqaba with the need to avoid the extremes and to occupy the centre. This requires us to advance the notion of Wasatiyyah – being most middlemost. Not only must we avoid the extremes, we must actively pursue the balance and the middleground;
We must also revive the sensibility of Rahma – the capacity for empathy and compassion. This is the critical precondition for engaging “the other” and in our appreciation for difference in people. Rahma provides the ability to be in the other’s shoes, and is therefore the antidote to suspicion and hostility; and
We must embrace the great African notion of Ubuntu – we are people through other people. This requires the recognition of our inter-dependence and the basis for co-operation. Ubuntu creates the platform for a new Global Solidarity.
While these basic propositions constitute the paradigm for the World for All, we need a galvanising vision to give direction to the practical work required.
A Galvanising Vision
We envisage a world informed by the Paradigm of the Aqaba where people ascend the path less travelled in pursuit of an inclusive world, and where the constituent parts of this paradigm are Wasatiyyah, Rahma, and Ubuntu.
This comes from the realisation that other paradigms have either reached the limits of their wisdom or have become counter-productive.
We are in pursuit of a world shaped by theologies that creates not exclusive spaces, but rather spaces and abodes of free confessions and professions of faith, where all live in security and peace, and that is particularly enabling of those in minority situations to live meaningful lives.
We seek to create a Global Solidarity founded on a value-based common ground that allows co-operation among different people who share a desire for social justice, human development, environmental sustainability, social inclusion and integration, and co-existence of all people.
We understand the need to use dialogue and social engagement to bring people from the margins and to collapse the binaries that define and limit discourse, so that we both create unity among people and respect the diversity that comes from being different.
We work for a spiritual and ethical rejuvenation as a common platform from which different communities can combat the most devastating effects of globalisation, consumerism, cultural alienation, etc.
The Defining Characteristics of the World for All would be:
That it recognises that while a variety of issues and phenomena appear distinct and unrelated, they must be seen as parts of a complex whole. Understanding the complex inter-relatedness of such issues and phenomena would, therefore, avoid the pursuit of simplistic, ready-made, and one size fits all solutions;
That it provides a Human Lens through which to engage contemporary problems and challenges, rather than an ideological lens. This avoids the natural binaries inherent in ideological lenses, and creates abetter basis to find solutions and forge solidarities and inclusion;
That it seeks engagement within and between communities, whether faith, cultural, political or any other distinct communities. It recognises Dialogue as the critical tool of engagement to explore common ground and to mediate difference, and to allow the pursuit of common objectives;
That it works for a phased and sequential set of achievements along a defined continuum based on the understanding that one cannot accept what is not loved, and one cannot love what is not understood and understanding is not achieved without knowing; and
Therefore, that it positions itself to work on such a continuum from the grassroots level to the level of global leaders, utilising various tools from media to campaigns, and utilising a variety of technologies to speak to specific constituencies.
Key Mindset Transitions
The struggle against Apartheid was concluded in ways which were completely to a world which expected bloodshed and permanent hostility between communities who had been engaged in a bitter struggle for many decades, if not centuries.
Instead, the outcome was a peaceful, negotiated settlement, and a remarkable process of Reconciliation. South Africans had made a few critical mindset transitions.
Avoiding the Perils of Victimhood, and adopting the Mantle of Agency;
Ensuring the Unity of the broadest range of the Middleground, and Isolating only the most dangerous elements of the Extremes;
Trying to find the perfect balance between the need for Unity – the aspects which make us the same – and the need to respect Diversity – that which makes us different;
Accepting that the Rights you claim for Yourself are only guaranteed when you secure Rights which Others claim for themselves, even though you may detest them and their rights;
Choosing Integration as the preferred mode of Co-existence where the integrity of the whole and the parts are both secured, as against the absorption of identity through Assimilation, and the ghettoisation of Isolation;
Embracing Multiple Identities by which to live, emphasising and prioritising them creatively as situations change, alternating between being the same and different, as opposed to living and dying by a single identity;
Understanding that at the heart of all Discrimination – Racism, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, Extremism, etc – is the single mindset: Intolerance of Difference. There is no good discrimination and no healthy hatred of the “other”; and
Promoting Democracy, messy as it can be, as the facilitator of living together, the guarantor of rights and equality,
and the arbiter of difference and disputes.
Grounding the World for All
The paradigm, vision, objectives, concepts and insights of the World for All would be less meaningful if they did not find expression in real work on the ground, among and between communities, and specifically among troubled sectors in the world. In this regard the World for All does not seek to duplicate work, but to seek partnerships and join networks, and initiate such, in order to ensure a multiplier effect in this area of work.
Some initial Ideas for concrete work are:
Conference of Muslims to gather consensus on key concepts advanced by the World for All;
Roundtable of Global Leaders to fashion a platform for Global Solidarity;
Communities in Pain – From Victimhood to Agency;
Cosmopolitan Cities – Diversity as the Engine for Progress;
Memorialisation – Freeing History to Discover a Common Human Impulse;
Africa’s Intellectual Contribution: Timbuktu, Stone Town, Fes, Al Azhar…;
Awards for building Peace, Multi-culturalism, Co-operation, and Solidarity;
Muslim Minorities _ Sharing lessons for establishing Dar-us Shahada;
Teacher Training for Dialogue and Managing Difference;
Trialogue of Abrahamic Faiths – Exploring Fundamental Values;
Speaking the Language of Youth: from Mxit to Facebook;
Festivals and Holy Days: from Congratulations to Understanding;
Dialogue beyond Words: Music, Art and Culture;
Media as a vehicle for Dialogue and Respect.