The International Scholar Laureate Program. The envelope arrived with an embossed crest of an Eagle and a Globe, opening it revealed another envelope with an embossed crest of an Eagle and a Globe, and then, a congratulatory letter, an invitation, and quite possibly, an opportunity.
“The International Scholar Laureate Programs give participants the skills and resources they need to succeed in an ever-evolving world and help them reach their full leadership potential” says the Program’s website at www.scholarlaureate.org.
Success is an irresistible principle, nay, a fundamental necessity to the young with a bounce in his step and a song in his heart: A bounce that strides and strives towards a sustained yet unpolluted euphoria, and a song that invokes the deepest chords and rhythms of human voices, inspiring Mussorgsky to Mongolian throat music, Chopin to Chinese Opera; and a hell of a lot in between.
As someone cognizant of the challenges of our era, as someone fresh and young, as someone Global and refreshingly non-dogmatic, as a compassionate man, I believe in my success as a way of creating larger successes. For I too, as the founder and operator of a Non-Profit Organization wish to invite others of my era and of my heart, into a new program, a new world order program, an era of sustainable, smart, growth, and an end to that particular cancer to our Society, whom Richard Florida, the visionary Economic narrator of The Creative Class series, calls accurately the ‘Squelchers’.
Thus I accepted my nomination, with humility and cognizance, but even as I accepted I had to answer to the program committee the following question, succinctly, between 250-500 words, “Discuss the area of specialization in your field of interest that most interests you and explain why this discipline is important to you.”
I replied, thus:
The single most interesting phenomena in my field of career interests and professional vision lies the comprehensive study of Society and Economics.
Long before the dot com era, long before Indie Rock and the Euro, long before our immediate mothers and fathers, a new vision for a world order was realized.
By the end of the Napoleonic wars this vision had become so powerful and so inviolable, bringing national interests so close to both paradoxically, a global and local vision; that bucolic existence in the way pictured in the lulling pastoral fields of the French countryside, or the Peruvian steppe valleys, faced a new adversary called consumption: a world that was prepared to forego the barter system and fields of hay, for a world of banking and commodification.
Thus today, we find ourselves, invoking idyllically in between the rigors of the five day week and a sip of merlot and warmth of a couch and spot under the new sun, the relics of the older worlds, and participating in the reality of a new Economy and a new Society, with new problems that no longer overly preoccupy us with the dangers of famine and invading Mongol hordes; rather the dangers are in nature, Social: the decisions we make in the way we interact with others, and the Economic consequences of those decisions and interactions.
As an International Scholar Laureate I’d bear these principles in mind, and marry myself to these pressing challenges with the same devotion some in the older days prostrated themselves to the quest for an ‘otherwordly’ salvation, tired of their ‘this-worldly’ disillusionment.
For ours is a New World: a world so surreal and short-term, so intense and immediate, that it requires a new way of looking not only at the great ideas but the benefactors and patrons of those great ideas: that great assembly of Blood, Flesh, and Spirit: the Human Race.
As I discuss with the social scientists and technocrats in China, as I find myself looking through the great Tibetan Grottoes, peering into the immemorial and scented darkness of timeless human perseverance; as I chant the mantras of sustainability and self-actualization, invoking the powerful forces of a new Society, and a new Economics;
As I dine with the Australians, intuiting the need for a new creative class (as Richard Florida would put it);
As I visit Budapest, that old city of composers and cafés;
Perhaps I too will join the old pastoral shepherd from the countryside of Languedoc, the itinerant mountain Lama, or the North Indian farmer sowing the seeds of an Ancient sustenance under the awning of the Himalayas; in realizing something very simple: at our best, we all originate from a Common Spark, and at our worst, we may all forget that we do.
My friends, it’s time.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian
“Sustainable development is…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of further generations to meet their own needs.”~<b>World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future, 1987
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”~Albert Einstein.