How does a diverse network encompassing forty countries, different spiritual traditions, cultures and generations find a common framework for action?
For the past week I have been in Caux, Switzerland, the international conference center of Initiatives of Change, with 100 colleagues who are committed to building trust across the world’s divides.
High above Lake Geneva we start our days with thirty minutes of quiet looking out over the mountains across the water. For those of us who are activists by nature such daily spiritual disciplines are an important time to re-connect with the core of our being.
While much of our discussions during the Global Assembly have focused on the “container,” the structures and programs of IofC, our morning reflections have explored the “content” of our lives and our living. The most important actions we undertake are the personal choices to leave aside ego, fear and resentment.
There has been much honesty at a personal and institutional level. I had the unique experience of working with a team from UK, India, Australia, Romania and Ukraine in facilitating a walk along a timeline of IofC’s history since 1908. We explored the changing culture of the organization in the context of world events. To what extent has it encouraged trust, honesty, inclusion and growth, and where has it been controlling, exclusive, even wounding? Our goal is to become a learning organization. For many this transparency was refreshing, healing and empowering.
We have wrestled to build energy around specific priorities. Leaders from South Sudan, including the wife of the vice president, are here to seek help in building good governance in their country after years of strife. An Africa coordination team is planning a response.
Colleagues in India are looking for support to meet the rapidly increasing demand for their training in ethical leadership. Another task force is preparing to respond to the request from the executive secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification for IofC to train NGOs with the trustbuilding and relationship-building skills to enable sustainable land management.
A group from Brazil, Uruguay, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, USA and Canada is creating a coordination group with the goal of establishing a pilot project where young leaders can come together to study trustbuilding, moral leadership, and inclusive economics and also to take part in service projects.
Today we are deep in budget discussions and election of our International Council. Tomorrow we go back down the mountain. These have been intense days. But through it all there is the sense of a powerful global team in the making.