THIS year has brought many visible and dramatic signs that most of the world is discontented and rebellious. The electorates of the United Kingdom, Italy and the United States have delivered anti-establishment election results. More are expected to do the same as further elections take place. These events have occurred in developed countries, the First World. The developing nations themselves are in crisis for their inability to give jobs, food, education and the usual basic services that all citizens should have.
There are some factors that stand out in this new and unfriendly world that are bringing down already achieved standards of living. We are excluding nations here that are at war for one reason or another, which expectedly bring about chaos, death, famine, fear. We are merely talking of countries supposedly living in normal conditions.
The fact is that globalization, or the world becoming smaller and trading and communicating more, has made a few very rich and many very poor. Thus, there are elites and non-elites and the divide is growing and becoming more poisonous. Elites may be comfortable and trust each other in the present system but the majority do not trust them and are on the warpath against them as we have seen in angry electorates choosing the most anti-elite candidates possible. But these electoral results born out of anger and resentment are not quite the solution to the problem.
Technological differences have left some countries behind. Poverty because of economic stagnation has stymied governments from providing the necessary infrastructure for business and communication. Climate change has brought pressure on environmental resources making them less available to more citizens. Abuse and injustice to women because of their gender, trafficking of human beings, child maltreatment are on the rise given these conditions. Health issues such as epidemics, lack of medical facilities and public health care in many countries have brought unnecessary illnesses and deaths. Huge numbers of displaced people migrating from war zones to societies unprepared or unwilling to take them in is a new and major element in the instability in many nations affected. I could go on and on listing the ills of modern life crying out for just solutions.
Like everyone else, Pope Francis has seen and lived through these modern problematic conditions. But he has always been the pro-active, pragmatic and courageous person who in many instances has confronted these problems with the purpose of seeing their reality and trying to improve matters. It may be said that he has for some time tried to study and analyze how to improve the social compact in this world of unhappy changes for the worse and leading the Church towards addressing them.
Inspired by his compassion and courage to address these worldwide social crises, some secular entities like the Time-Fortune news and business grouphave convened a series of meetings with the Vatican which started last weekend. The Time-Fortune Global Forum invited leading private sector individuals and entities that are seriously concerned and willing to put in resources to participate in discussions and possible solutions to what are currently causing widespread poverty and unsustainability in many countries, and affecting vast numbers of people. This is a purely altruistic move bringing together not nations with their state interests and consideration for international power or turf, but individuals from every possible segment of world society that, because of their track record of ideas and accomplishments, can help because they are motivated to do so.
Business individuals, professionals, environmentalists, health advocates, educators, philanthropists, religious leaders and more have been invited to participate and it is hoped that good ideas will have been heard and developed, that challenges will have been faced and that with the goodwill, altruism, care and compassion as well as attention to the good and the spiritual in mankind, something needed and game-changing will come from it. Pope Francis is a leading participant and overall inspiration.
This is obviously only the beginning, which means a lot of hard work, research and consultation will have to be done after the meeting. It should be an ongoing effort that we hope will bring permanent and enlightened change for the better, a fairer and more just world solving problems in this spirit. It is an ambitious enterprise that is actually bent on changing the social compact or how it works, zeroing in on what nations and the world community need to do for everyone to live better, more equal, more humane lives. Much has to be done after this first step and the hard part will be to convince all levels of societies that can contribute to it that they have to understand why, and be involved to the point of sacrifice and hard work for justice and equality.
We hope to hear the initial results and directions taken after this meeting not only to be informed but to be ready to accept and work for what can change the unhappy national and international conditions now.