This blog post is an edited version of the opening message presented by Rita Astfalck, outgoing Board member and former General Manager of the U.W. Linsi Foundation, at the Globethics.net Board of Foundation meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on 29 April 2022.
I am happy to share my thoughts with you today in my opening message for this, my last Board meeting - they are both thoughtful and hopeful.
You may remember the message I gave at the beginning of an online Board meeting last October (2021) when we were all still deep in the pandemic situation. At that time, the topic was "common good before self-interest". The U.W. Linsi Foundation has always been committed to this principle, and in Belimo's presentation we saw how successful a company can be with it. We have seen a well-functioning understanding of values as the key to success and overcoming problems.
And today, where do we stand with this sentence from a global and personal perspective?
Now, Putin's extremely brutal war in Ukraine is obscuring everything else that is happening in the world at the same time - I'm thinking of natural disasters, exploitation, famine, human rights violations, the devastating effects of climate change, and so on.
With the invasion of Ukraine, Putin is demonstrating unequivocally that he is asserting his own interests with the utmost determination, and he does not seem to be afraid of even taking a third world war into consideration.
Against this background, one must ask oneself quite soberly whether the vision of "Common good before self-interest" still holds at all. The opposite seems to be the case.
Russia is not an isolated case; in many other countries, too, despots are in power who abuse their position and who clearly put self-interest before the common good.
In any case, the bill is always paid by the people: the many millions of refugees or internally displaced persons. Today there are already 65 million people on the move - they are fleeing because they have no choice.
It is people who lose everything, even their lives, in war. People who starve because aid money ends up in the wrong pockets, people who are oppressed, people who are exploited and deprived of their rights. People whose existence is threatened because of climate change - all these examples are consequences of selfish, egoistic, and self-serving actions.
Fortunately, however, there is also the opposite - which I would like to summarise with the following thoughts.
It is encouraging to see that many countries in the world today are standing together, not reacting with a “the winner takes it all” attitude but trying to act prudently and responsibly - for the benefit of the common good.
They exist, these counter-movements - people who get involved in the burning issues of our time, people who demonstrate for human rights.
And finally, the war in Ukraine which has brought the countries in Europe closer together again. This gives rise to hope.
United in a great wave of solidarity, many people are spontaneously providing help, taking in refugees in their homes or helping to care for and support them.
Perhaps this might be the key to more common good with the many humanitarian, committed signs and actions being the demonstration of values for a responsible, respectful co-existence.
Consequently, the message can only be - let's keep it up, let's get involved at all levels and in all issues for the common good, because this sense of the big picture is needed now more than ever and ethics is needed in all action.
That is why the work of Globethics.net is more important than ever!
I wish us all a lot of courage and strength for this commitment to the common good in our professional and personal lives.
And as a last and final word: thank you Globethics.net - your work is inspiring and deserves great respect.
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Common good before self-interest