“Ethics gives us faith in our shared humanity. Ethics allows us to identify the common good through conflicting interests and needs. It shows us the path in dark moments and deep waters.”
Speaking on 5 April 2023 at the global launch of the Globethics Strategy 2023-2027, entitled ‘Ethical Leadership through Higher Education and Global Engagement’, Fadi Daou, Executive Director of Globethics, explained both the role of ethics and the choice of the new Globethics tagline, Navigating life. The launch, which took place at six Globethics Centres around the world, in Accra, Bangalore, Buenos Aires, Geneva, Nairobi and Yogyakarta, with hundreds of attendees joining online and in person, was the occasion to announce and exchange on the need for ethical leadership today and on the strategic priorities set for the next five years.
During the launch event all were, and are, invited to contribute to making the four Globethics thematic priorities – 1) ethics and standards in higher education, 2) ethics of sustainability and environmental justice, 3) ethics of digital and emerging technologies and 4) ethics of peace and responsible governance – a reality and to spread the word and invite others.
New starts such as the Globethics Strategy, birthdays and anniversaries bring powerfully to mind for me the difference that each one of us makes in the world, simply by virtue of being born and living our daily lives. This year, 2023, for example, marks 55 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr on 4 April 1968. His life, cut short as it was, his words, his passion and his legacy, stay with us. Forgotten though very often, too often, are the women who stood and walked with Dr King, including his wife Coretta Scott King, an activist and leader in her own right.
On 4 April, exactly 40 years before the shooting of Dr King, one of my sheroes, Marguerite Annie Johnson, better known as Maya Angelou, was born in 1928. I had the good fortune to see her perform live, reading her poetry in Hammersmith, London in the early 1990s. I can still hear her voice, so vibrant and rich and rounded, as she began to read the first verse of her poem ‘Still I Rise’,
“You may write me down in historyWith your bitter, twisted lies,You may trod me in the very dirtBut still, like dust, I'll rise.”
This particular poem intruded on my reflections on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2023 as marches took place to protest the mistreatment and abuse of women and the poisoning of schoolgirls in Iran.
Women dressed as Handmaids march through London on Wednesday 8 March 2023, carrying placards that show the images of Iranian women and girls who have been detained or killed in Iran during the protests. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/EPA, published by The Guardian
During the 67th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March, it was clear that equality and progress on human rights for women globally are not only going in reverse but to some extent vanishing. Access to and increase in education, participation in society and safe social and digital environments are essential not only for women but also for the overall well-being and advancement of society as a whole. We are only as strong as the weakest of us.
The power of solidarity, expressed in actions, in words, in art, in the power of poetry, reminds us of the choices we have, and the positive differences we can make. Incredibly, an adult can take up to 35,000 decisions a day with 226.7 of those on food alone each day. Each of those decisions has consequences and I believe that being alive to the potential that we have to be conscious of our motivations and intentional when choosing between options is a first step towards being ethical and towards responsible self-leadership.
To conclude and to belated mark World Poetry Day, celebrated on 21 March 2023, I leave you with Robert Frost’s, ‘The Road Not Taken’.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,And having perhaps the better claim,Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that the passing thereHad worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally layIn leaves no step had trodden black.Oh, I kept the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.
Lucy Howe LópezGlobethics Deputy Executive Director
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