His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales calls for
greater Harmony between Man and Nature --
Lord Alton of Liverpool
London, UK - 28 April 2007, 00:57 GMT - We are grateful
to our long standing and distinguished member, The Lord Alton of Liverpool,
for submitting the 67th Roscoe Lecture to ATCA, delivered at St George's
Hall Liverpool, by HRH The Prince of Wales. The Roscoe lecture is named
after one of Liverpool's most famous sons, William Roscoe (1753-1831),
whose heritage lives on through the work of Liverpool John Moores University's
Foundation for Citizenship chaired by The Lord Alton.
David Alton (Lord Alton of Liverpool) began his career as a teacher and,
in 1972, he was elected to Liverpool City Council as Britain's youngest
City Councillor. He served for 18 years in the House of Commons. David
was made a Life Peer in 1997. He has sat for the past 10 years as a Crossbencher
in the House of Lords and is Professor of Citizenship at Liverpool John
Moores University (LJMU). A Fellow of St Andrew's University his books
include "Citizen Virtues" and "Faith In Britain."
He was one of the founders of the British Human Rights Organisation, Jubilee
Campaign. During his oration Professor Lord (David) Alton said:
"Roscoe is often hailed as the 'father of Liverpool
culture' and like him, The Prince of Wales has been brave enough to develop
seemingly unconventional ideas and provide opportunities for those with
the drive to succeed. Independence of mind, tolerance and respect are
all qualities which the University wishes to cultivate through the Foundation.
These virtues are attributes for which The Prince of Wales is famed and
for this we applaud him."
HRH Prince Charles echoed these sentiments by praising Roscoe for having
the courage to challenge the 'status quo' by campaigning for the abolition
of slavery. HRH's lecture was a thought-provoking exploration of The Prince's
views on 'modernism' and society's perilous alienation from nature. Science
and technology had, he said, brought great benefits but also some painful
and destructive costs. In order to address the immense challenges facing
mankind today, it was imperative that we rethink our approach to life
and ask whether modernism, and its materialistic view of life was 'fit
for purpose' in the 21st century. Rather than trying to simplify, standardise
and sanitise the natural world, we should instead embrace complexity as
the key to life. True sustainability, he continued, depended on us accepting
that we cannot engineer our way out of every problem. Instead we needed
to shift our perception of our place in the world and embrace the sacred
duty of stewardship of the natural order of things. The Prince concluded
by calling on society to embrace scientific and technological advances
that worked in harmony with nature rather than trying to master it. Such
an enlightened approach would take courage but was one that he believes
needs to be adopted with some urgency.
The Roscoe Lecture by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales delivered
at St George's Hall, Liverpool on 23rd April 2007
It is a great honour to receive this honorary Fellowship from Liverpool
John Moores University and, indeed to give this Roscoe Lecture, especially
in the year in which we mark the eight hundredth anniversary of King
John granting your city its charter. The city fathers who received that
charter could not have imagined what a vibrant, cosmopolitan city it
would become. It has been a special pleasure for me today to open the
splendidly restored St George's Hall on St George's Day.
It is a miracle of co-ordination that you have managed to achieve this!
I was shown around the building some 15 years ago on a private visit
and was told that it was due to be demolished. I remember encouraging
those I met to do all they could to save it and so you can imagine what
a delight it is for me today to see the whole building revealed in all
its glory. If I may, I just wanted to congratulate everyone whose tireless
efforts have made it possible, for St George's Hall is surely one of
the finest examples of neo-classical architecture in Europe; a jewel
in a city where conscience and philanthropy have constantly challenged
the prevailing world view.
William Roscoe, of course, did just that. He was a poet and a scholar,
a passionate educationalist and a vigorous patron of the arts. He founded
the School of Arts that has since flowered into this increasingly influential
University which has not only developed an internationally renowned
programme of research, but also established such a successful and innovative
approach to management. I am more than intrigued by the fact that you
have abolished all of your "decision-making committees." That
sounds too good to be true! And, of course, I am delighted and honoured
that you have decided to give my Prince's Trust your prestigious Corporate
Award for its work helping young people into business.
But William Roscoe also pursued his belief in "freedom for all"
by adding his considerable voice to a then unpopular movement that eventually
achieved the abolition of the slave trade in this country two hundred
years ago. Sadly, even today, we have not fully eradicated slavery,
but there are some remarkable people, like Baroness Cox who struggle
courageously in places like the Sudan.
In company with others engaged in that struggle, both here and abroad,
Roscoe was considered a fool by many to challenge the received wisdom
of his day. Indeed, here in Liverpool there were strong economic arguments
for keeping things the way they were. And yet, against the odds, such
figures managed to persuade people and Parliament to widen and deepen
their focus and to challenge and change the status quo. And so society
developed a new and more enlightened perspective.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as you have been rash enough to invite me here
to indulge in a spot of "meddling" in Liverpool, I can confess
to knowing a little bit here and there about putting my head above the
odd conventional parapet from time to time. In my case, it has been
to suggest that in the last 50 or so years, perhaps with the best of
intentions, we may have "thrown out the baby with the bath water,"
and that, therefore, we need to consider anew the timeless principles
which underpinned so much of civilization before industrialization took
such a comprehensive hold on the world. These principles have always
crossed all cultural boundaries. They have never belonged to one particular
school of thought. Rather, they might be called "shared insights"
that belong to humanity as a whole and I would suggest that they are
key to the maintenance of Harmony, Balance and Unity in life.
It is these principles that I would like to explore in this lecture
today, in relation to some of the main areas with which I happen to
have long been concerned: architecture, medicine, agriculture, environment
and education. These are all areas of our life which, it seems to me,
have been adversely affected by the neglect of a particular kind of
wisdom that guided our forebears for generations, and its almost complete
replacement in the past century by an entirely different way of seeing
ourselves in relation to others and, indeed, in expressing Mankind's
relationship with Nature.
The trouble, of course, in suggesting, as I have done, that the balance
needs to be righted, is that I seem to have ended up being "pigeon-holed"
as "anti-progress" or "anti-science." I am not "anti-science"
- I am anti the kind of science that fails to see the whole picture;
the kind of science that has for some reason eliminated what we might
call commonsense. So I will now reiterate to those who actually listen
that of course technology and progress have changed our lives for the
better -- certainly in the West and not least in terms of health, universal
education, improved housing and greater mobility and prosperity. But
I would argue that while we have undeniably made great gains we have
also lost something very precious and that is an understanding of our
interconnectedness with Nature and a world beyond the material.
My thesis is that in order to cope with the alarming challenges that
increasingly confront us in the form of the disturbing side-effects
of that very progress we have made, and to ensure that others in developing
countries and, indeed, our children and grandchildren, can have a worthwhile
future, we urgently need to re-think the way we perceive the world and
our place in it. It is not, therefore, a question of "either, or";
but one of the re-integration of the lost half of our humanity that
has been, I contend, so rashly discarded in the rush towards the concept
of linear progress.
For, it is Ladies and Gentlemen, that we now live in an extremely literalized
world. A world which has little place for the symbolic or recognition
of the levels of existence that lie beyond the material. We have been
persuaded that what we see is all we get; that there is nothing more
than the material exterior of things.
This new perspective, which some have called "Modern-ism,"
offers us an unrelenting emphasis upon a material and mechanistic view
of the world. To quote from the Victoria and Albert Museum's foreword
to its recent exhibition on Modernism, "Modernists had a Utopian
desire to create a better world. They believed in technology as the
key means to achieve social improvement and in the machine as a symbol
of that aspiration." Generally speaking, we can say that it has
focussed its attention upon the parts and not the whole -- to the point
of deconstructing the world around us -- and has dismissed as unreal
anything that cannot be objectively measured and tested. It is, if you
like, a "world of quantities."
As I said earlier, this approach has, of course, brought us great benefits.
But I would argue, however, there have also been costs and, as we are
finding out, increasingly painful and destructive ones. Implicit in
the ideology of "Modernism" was the notion that we could somehow
disconnect ourselves from the wisdom of the past; that we no longer
needed the knowledge offered to us by traditional approaches in everything
from education to agriculture, in the arts and crafts and that spiritual
practice is no more than outdated superstition -- but "super-stition",
of course, means something much more profound than what we have been
led to believe. It reflects the heightened sense of our participation
in the living organism of Nature that actively, "unconsciously,"
seeks balance at all times. And it is, I suggest, by replacing rather
than working with that other and timeless wisdom to which I have referred
that we have created at the heart of our present world view a worrying
We see it, for instance, reflected in much of our urban development,
in certain approaches to medicine, in our agri-industries and most especially
in what some refer to as "the environmental crisis". To such
an extent that I feel it has become an imperative of our time to question
whether, with today's immense challenges and today's knowledge, it is
an approach to life which, on its own, is enough; is actually "fit
for purpose" in the 21st century?
This approach has sought, as a matter of principle, to simplify or standardize
the world and make things more industrialized and convenient. That is
why, for example, we have sought to straighten curved streets and group
buildings into single-use zones. Thus we have too often imposed a simplistic
and empty geometry on the form of our cities which has drastically reduced
the rich complexity of many of our urban environments. It is also why
we have lost an understanding of the unity of mind, body and spirit
in relation to healthcare. And all this has turned out to be something
of a problem, because what those who drove this 20th century ideology
did not seem to understand is what today's intricate studies of biology
now shout out loud and clear -- that complexity is key to life.
We now know from biology that in the natural world every healthy organism
is a complex system of interrelated and interdependent parts that work
together in a coherent way to produce a harmonic whole. There is no
waste and no one part operates beyond the limits of the whole. Bees
in a hive are a perfect example of this. It is the hive which is the
organism and its healthy survival depends upon each bee helping to maintain
the balance and harmony of the unified whole. They do this by following
the patterns and laws of Nature. They do not exceed their limits nor
do they put the individual first. Each bee operates in harmony with
the environment which sustains it. As George Herbert wrote "Each
creature hath a wisdom for his good." His celebration of the bee
in his poem Providence sums up the point beautifully:
"Bees work for man; and yet they never bruise
Their master's flower, but leave it, having done,
As fair as ever, and as fit to use;
So both the flower doth stay, and honey run."
Contrast this for a moment with our convenience-based, throw away consumerist
society, dominated as it is by the increasing demands of individualism
-- at whatever cost, it often seems, to society or the environment.
Every aspect of human activity and interaction in the Western world
is now required to be so simplified and standardized that nothing must
be complex. Even Nature is presented as a simplified and sanitized arm's-length
experience; something to watch on television programmes, but something
separate from what we are. In short, whether or not it intends to do
so, this attitude of mind seems to disconnect us from the rest of creation.
It does so, moreover, by actively denying that, at root, we are spiritual
creatures; that we have real spiritual needs -- call them "intuitive,
heartfelt feelings" if you like -- which must be nourished if we
are to achieve our full potential. To express such needs requires the
perspectives of the philosophical and the spiritual, but where are they
in this present Modernistic paradigm? The creative force in the universe
has been so rendered down that it would seem it is now nothing more
than a disposable idea, allowing us to see Nature as a sort of giant
laboratory where we can experiment and manipulate its separate parts,
testing them to destruction if we like, without worrying about the impact
that this has on the whole.
No longer is "Mother Nature" the guiding principle that it
was for generations of our forebears. Just think of Wordsworth's "sense
sublime of something far more interfused. a motion and a spirit that
impels all thinking things, all objects of thought and rolls through
How that jars with the mechanistic, empirically rational way in which
reality is so often portrayed. The rational is thought to be the only
sensible way of looking at the world. Whereas living within the limits
of what Nature can sustain, trusting our intuition and, ultimately,
seeing the world as sacred presence are all considered to be of little
or no value, if not figments of romantic fantasy.
And yet, Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the greatest scientific minds
of the 20th Century, Albert Einstein, was very clear about the manner
in which we have got things the wrong way round. As he put it "the
intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful
servant. But we have created a society that honours the servant and
has forgotten the gift."
What is worrying, I fear, is that we are fast running out of time to
reconnect with that sacred gift. We are in danger of being like the
analogy of the poor frog. Had he been thrown into a pot of boiling water
he would have jumped straight out again. But he was put into a pot of
lukewarm water and the heat was only slowly increased so that, without
noticing it, he slowly boiled to death.
What I am trying to describe to you here, then, is what I consider to
be a fundamental "crisis of perception." By positioning ourselves
outside Nature we have abstracted life. In secularizing Nature and rejecting
outright our innate sense of the sacred, we have disconnected ourselves
completely from the rhythms of the natural world. And, as a consequence,
we have become increasingly out of joint with the natural order. And
there is order. Everything depends upon everything else. The bee to
the flower, the bird to the tree and the man to the soil. Nature is
rooted in wholeness.
I believe that true "sustainability", to use a now common
word, depends fundamentally upon us shifting our perception and widening
our focus, so that we understand, again, that we have a sacred -- yes,
a sacred -- duty of stewardship of the natural order of things. In some
of our actions we now behave as if we were "masters of Nature"
and, in others, as mere bystanders. If we could rediscover that "sense
of harmony"; that sense of being a part of, rather than apart from
Nature, we would perhaps be less likely to see the world as some sort
of gigantic production system, capable of ever-increasing outputs for
our benefit -- at no cost. To rediscover these insights -- this "commonsense",
if you like -- we have to modify the Modernistic ideology inherent in
education before true sustainability can be comprehended.
For it cannot be achieved solely by relying upon ever more innovative
forms of technology. We cannot simply hope to engineer our way out of
the problems we have created for ourselves. The crisis is far deeper
and to ignore this will only perpetuate the problems we now face.
We need to realize that human nature is innately spiritual and desires
to know the origin and purpose of all things. After all, "sustainability"
presupposes a "sustainer." I would suggest that this means
regaining a proper understanding and an active appreciation of the harmony
inherent in all life. And, dare I say it, restoring to the mainstream
something of the lost spiritual dimension.
For the imbalance is both outward and inward. Our disconnection from
an abstracted Nature is matched by a disconnection from the Transcendent.
The present, dominant view of life, with its unrelenting emphasis on
the quantitative view of reality, limits and distorts the true nature
of the Real and our perception of it. It has certainly brought us material
benefits, but it has also prevented us from knowing what I would refer
to as "the knowledge of the heart" -- our God-given intuitive
sense which enables us to be balanced human beings.
This is because, despite all of its undeniable benefits, in the end
materialist science does not have the language to consider what, ultimately,
is the purpose of intelligence and knowledge. Contrary to appearances
and despite how easy it is to click a mouse, the answer is not to replace
wisdom with information! Quite the opposite in fact. Indeed, I am reminded
of those prophetic lines from T S Eliot:
"Where is the life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust."
It is perhaps worth considering how we arrived at this situation where
so much fragmentation and "dis-ease" abound. I find it a rather
curious aberration that the great advances in technology which engineered
the European Industrial Age simultaneously undermined so much understanding
of the principles of Harmony when, up until that point, they had been
so central to teaching throughout the entire history of Mankind. If
one studies the symbolism and mythologies of any of the ancient civilizations
that underpin our own, one finds the same central characters signifying
the same central principles of Balance and Harmony. All the great civilizations
sought to express through their mythology and symbolism the same idea:
that the cosmic order, the natural order and the human moral order are
interrelated and interdependent and that the natural tendency is towards
Balance and Harmony. Now is this superstition or a fundamental law of
Nature? From what those at the cutting edge of theoretical physics are
now telling us, the Ancients were right to recognize that the mathematics
of harmony are universal principles.
I was interested to learn recently that the physicist Werner Heisenberg,
who gave his name to the Uncertainty Principle in quantum physics, would
tell his students not to see the world as being made of matter. It was,
he said, made of music. He recognized what Pythagoras knew well, that
chaos is ordered by number and that Nature is made up of precise numerical
patterns. We have learned from Heisenberg that the physical world is
not made up of individual parts, but is essentially "process and
movement." Particles "dance" from order to disorder and
back again. They express diverse movement, but always within the defining
boundaries of Unity so that there is, even at the very heart of matter,
a deep-seated interconnectivity that takes note of an overarching sense
of unity. It demonstrates the need for order and an integration that
is balanced and harmonic. It holds together the very fabric of Nature.
When we consider this recent development in physics, we begin to see
why the Ancients also saw that these patterns and codes are similarly
symbolic of the inner realm. They are the key to understanding the subtle
structure of awareness, which is the ultimate sacred wonder. That is
why every traditional civilization saw these harmonic patterns as essential
to the education of the soul. It is why they are woven into the designs
of all our great cathedrals, mosques, temples and synagogues -- everywhere
stating that the grand agents of Nature are actually immutable and inextricably
linked to the ground of our being.
One still finds that this is so in the world's spiritual traditions.
In Islam, for instance, there is no separation between the Divine and
the Natural world. It is all one harmonic song, a "Uni-verse."
And in Christian theology it was the same up until around the thirteenth
century, when a curious shift occurred in Europe which is worth considering.
If one reads the works of the great thirteenth century Christian scholar,
Thomas Aquinas, one discovers that he held firm to the principle that
everything exists within the mind of God. In other words, that the principle
of Divinity is disclosed in the world. This saw the world as "sacred
presence" with Man "participating" in creation. But what
has fascinated me for some time now is the discovery that such universal
participation in the sacred began to be overshadowed during Aquinas's
own lifetime by the notion that God was outside creation and acted upon
Nature through Divine Will, rather than through real presence. And so
a separation emerged between Nature and God, and between Man and Nature.
The world became regarded as an effect of the Divine Will and Man was
the instrument of that Will.
I do not want to labour this point, but let us consider the consequence
of this shift. In a very short space of time that all-important and
timeless principle of "participation in the Being of things"
was eliminated from mainstream Western thinking. With God separate from
His Creation, Human nature likewise became separate from Nature and
began pursuing a mastery of the will over things. So it was a very dramatic
shift indeed. It effectively shattered the organic unity of the Western
view of reality, and it seems to me that this is where the trouble began.
Because, if the whole is forgotten, then fragmentation emerges everywhere
and there is no ground for a common vision.
Its legacy was certainly visible by the seventeenth century when those
new scientists of their day like Francis Bacon could write that Nature
was independent, mechanical and subject to Man's purpose. In Bacon's
New Organum, for instance, he calls for the "exercise of the full
power over Nature granted to us by divine bequest."
As I have already suggested, many now accept that this shift in the
West away from that principle of participation in Nature and in favour
of a claim of mastery over Nature, is reaping a bitter harvest, not
least in the way we produce our food.
Industrialized agriculture sees Nature simply as a mechanical process,
somehow ever capable of producing yet more at no long term cost. And
yet, it is a mind-boggling fact that in one pinch of soil there are
more microbes than there are people on the planet. In one pinch of soil...
So what irreversible damage do we do to the delicate, complex balance
of such a fragile ecosystem as the top soil by our industrialized manipulation
of the natural order? It is the top soil which sustains all life on
Earth. So its health is our health. We erode it and poison it at our
peril. To do so ignores entirely how profoundly "health" depends
upon organisms operating in harmony with their surroundings and within
the cyclical rhythms of Nature. This is neither a debating point nor
a coincidence. It is a fundamental law of Nature. All organisms depend
upon a state of harmony to be healthy.
Of course, I am well aware of the argument that without industrialized
agriculture we could not feed the world. But perhaps we should consider
more seriously whether industrialized agriculture can feed the world
in the way that the self-sustaining, organic system has done for the
last ten thousand years. After all, the industrial process operates
on a diminishing return. As natural components are eroded by intensive
farming, so more chemical fertilizers are used to replace them. But
the more that they are applied, the less balanced and sustainable the
ecosystem becomes - to the extent that, since the 1950's, "feeding
the world" using this industrialized approach has succeeded in
eroding one third of the world's farmable soil. So how likely is it
that such an approach will keep us going for the next ten thousand years?
Once again, we must recognize that farming is not independent of everything
else; that it cannot be run in a sustainable way by reductionist science
alone. If we do not embrace this fact of Nature, I fear She will rebel
and we will remain dangerously disconnected and vulnerable.
There are, of course, scientists who realize the limitations of a purely
rational approach and are working with the grain of Nature. I wonder
if you have heard of a new branch of engineering called Biomimetics
or Biomimicry? It takes designs from Nature that have been perfected
by millions of years of evolution to the point where they are much more
efficient than those of our industrialized world - for example, in Nature
there are no wastes; everything is recycled and is part of a whole.
Biomimetics applies such natural designs to human problems. There are
some wonderful examples:
A man called George de Mestrel, for instance, studied the way the hooked
seeds of the burdock plant stick to the fur of a dog and he came up
with the concept of Velcro. Others have questioned how lotus leaves
manage to keep so polished and clean when pond water is so muddy. They
discovered that the leaves have microscopic structures that stop water
droplets from getting a grip. They roll across the leaf rather than
slide, collecting the dust as they go and depositing it on the edge
of the leaf. So now we have a paint called Lotusan which replicates
the surface of the leaf on man-made structures so that when it rains
the surface cleans itself at no cost to the environment.
Zoologists have also studied a beetle which uses the same microscopic
structure to collect very scarce water from desert fogs in the Namib
Desert, the hottest and driest place on earth. And with that knowledge
engineers have designed sheets with a surface that replicates that structure
to create air conditioning units that do not use oil-powered machinery.
This 'fog-harvesting' also offers huge promise in countries where water
You can see the point, I am sure. These examples are "good"
examples. They are benign and operate within the realm of human values,
within the limits of Nature's law. But how do we know them to be good?
What is the sense that tells us this is so? Could it, perhaps, be that
much maligned of senses, our intuition?
I think we forget that our intuition is deeply rooted in the natural
order. It is "the sacred gift" as Einstein called it. The
word itself is a clue to what it truly is. Our "in born tutor"
is the voice of the soul; the link between the body and mind and therefore
the link between the particular and the universal. If we were to recognize
this, we would, perhaps, once again, begin to see our existence in its
proper place within Creation - not in some specially protected and privileged
category of our own making. I often wonder, for instance, how many people
in today's world feel a niggling sense of instinctive unease at what
they are called upon to do in their working lives, or as a result of
the pressures of conventional custom and outlook? If they do, but dare
not express it for fear of being thought old-fashioned or out of touch,
then they are experiencing the inner resonance of what I have been referring
to as universal principles - or even "perennial wisdom". This
is because the physical world is not the whole of reality. Another element
of "reality" exists and they are, perhaps unknowingly, responding
to the mysterious fact that each one of us mirrors its nature. The fact
that this is so is surely, and ever has been, the mark of what it means
to be truly civilized and to be part of "a civilization".
Ever since I saw the appalling devastation of the Tsunami in Sri Lanka,
I have been fascinated by the approach taken by the tribal peoples of
the tiny Andaman and Nicobar Islands which sit in the middle of the
Bay of Bengal, 800 miles east of Sri Lanka and 340 miles to the north
of Sumatra. They were closest to the epicentre of the earthquake and
bore the brunt of the devastation, and yet, by using their instinctive
powers of participation, they saved nearly all of their people. Coastal
tribes like the Onge and Jarawa on South and Little Andaman noticed
subtle changes in the behaviour of birds and fish. These warning signs
were woven so explicitly into their folklore - passed down from one
generation to another - that they responded immediately, wasting no
time in moving quickly to higher ground and the shelter of the forest.
In this way, they survived.
Such people, Ladies and Gentlemen, do not observe the world from the
outside. They consider themselves to be participants in it, and they
define life on Earth as "sacred presence." They are sensitive
to the importance of the innate Harmony that I have been describing
to you today and they do something about it when it starts to fragment.
As I have said, their sensibility to their environment and society is
founded upon both experience and a canon of wisdom stories passed down
through the generations. This folk "lore" reinforces their
aptitude and their experience.
So maybe there are lessons for us here: firstly, that to ignore all
the God-given senses, save the rational, may be the quickest way for
mankind to head for extinction; and, secondly, that we, too, should
consider where our "lore" may be taking us.
Indeed, as I hinted at earlier on, it may be worth us considering whether
we need to look towards an education system which balances the rational
approach to life with intuitive learning. One which does less to eradicate
our intuitive, instinctive attributes. It does concern me that, although
young children are encouraged to use all their senses as they learn
about the world, including their sense of beauty, as students progress
to a more senior level there is decreasing emphasis on an overall view
and appreciation of the world and an increasing emphasis on specialization.
But what if we attempted to reintegrate our intuitive response in such
fields of education? Would it encourage a healthier approach to Nature
- one that would develop an appreciation of the natural world at a more
profound level? For surely, that is the proper aim of education: to
give to each a deeper understanding of how we relate to the world around
us and the order of things. It may even restore wholeness to people,
in that seeing organisms as coherent wholes enables us to recognize
just how much a part of that coherent whole we are too? After all, if
one feels no connection to a limb, it is easier to let damage be done
to it. But if you know that it is your own arm - well, you might just
think twice about it!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have tried to suggest that the denial of our
microcosmic and real relationship with the universal truths and the
laws of Nature is engendering within us a dangerous alienation. In denying
and forgetting that invisible "geometry" of Harmony that was
always recognized and sanctified by our forebears by the means of spiritual
practice and lore, we create cacophony and dissonance.
The question then is how, within a contemporary framework, we can reintegrate
the best parts of this abandoned and ancient understanding, this Harmony,
with the best of modern technology and science. Many will say that this
is impossible, but it seems to me that a good start would be to take
a long, hard look at ourselves and question very seriously whether the
dominant attitude of our day will do, whether it really enables us to
see things as they truly are. We need, I suggest, to reconfigure our
view of the world and heal the crisis in our perception to which I have
referred. And that can be done if we begin to treasure diversity; if
we encourage and reward collaboration; if we build skills and learn
to encompass complexity; if we nurture and maintain all those subtle
checks and balances that keep any economy, community or eco-system,
vibrant and healthy. We need to learn all that we can from the Natural
world and its rhythms while at the same time developing the kinds of
innovative and more benign forms of technology that work with the grain
of Nature. It is a shift in perception that we can all work to create.
It is a shift, dare I say it, from Modernism to Holism.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here in Liverpool you are in the midst of anniversaries
that look back - two hundred years to the abolition of the slave trade
and eight hundred years to the granting of your charter. But what of
the view, two or eight hundred years from now? What will our descendants
think of our present endeavours? Will they see the efforts of enlightened
people who, at such a critical moment, introduced a profound shift in
their thinking? Will they see, as a result, a more participative, integrated
way of living; one that placed greater value on coherence and the limits
of Nature? I pray and hope that they will, and that they will see that
we were not misguided after all.
We do face seemingly intractable worldwide problems at the present time,
but there is still a chance - just - that we can turn the tide, if we
have the confidence again to look at the world aright; to see it from
the inside out and to allow ourselves to be guided by a proper appreciation
of those timeless principles of Balance, Harmony and Unity that I have
tried to share with you today. All we need is the courage to start,
the wisdom to change and that sense of real urgency that escaped the
senses of the unfortunate boiled frog.
We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views.
For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency
ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency
Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001
to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic
dialogue and joint executive action to build a wisdom based global
economy. Adhering to the doctrine of non-violence, ATCA addresses
opportunities and threats arising from climate chaos, radical
poverty, organised crime & extremism, advanced technologies
-- bio, info, nano, robo & AI, demographic skews, pandemics
and financial systems. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation
only and has over 5,000 distinguished members from over 100 countries:
including several from the House of Lords, House of Commons, EU
Parliament, US Congress & Senate, G10's Senior Government
officials and over 1,500 CEOs from financial institutions, scientific
corporates and voluntary organisations as well as over 750 Professors
from academic centres of excellence worldwide.
Intelligence Unit | mi2g | tel +44 (0) 20 7712 1782 fax +44
(0) 20 7712 1501 | internet www.mi2g.net
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