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2012 #1 - Freedom and Spiritual Security

Every year, World Goodwill holds a meeting in London, Geneva, and New York, to focus upon a topic of world interest. The aim is to attempt, as far as possible, to view this topic as the outer expression of inner causes, and to see how much light can be shed on the matter as it relates to the wider unfolding of the will-to-good within human affairs. As the higher correspondence of goodwill, the will-to-good is that dynamic loving purpose which energises all who serve humanity, inspiring and directing the application of goodwill in their work. Guest speakers involved in various initiatives are invited to share their thoughts and their experiences of service.

This year, “Freedom and Spiritual Security” provided a topic of significant depth and breadth, which inspired a wide range of contributions. World Goodwill was particularly fortunate to welcome to its London meeting Dr. Corinne Kumar, the Secretary General of the NGO El Taller International, based in Tunisia. She was therefore able to give a first-hand perspective on the Arab Spring, one of the most recent significant manifestations of humanity’s ongoing struggle to understand the meaning of freedom. The other guest speaker in London, the Rev. Peter van Breda, reflected on the psychological and spiritual struggle for freedom undergone by modern man since the Renaissance, illustrating his thoughts by reference to Shakespeare, Copernicus and Machiavelli.

In Geneva, Dutch physicist Mintze van der Velde discussed the question of how free science is to help humanity. Rudolf Schneider, Secretary-General of the NGO the Institute for Planetary Synthesis, invited the audience to rearrange their lives in order to work for a world of expanding freedom. Some time was also devoted to small group discussions focusing on the theme and its relationship to President Roosevelt’s famous Four Freedoms, and a number of insights were shared.

In New York, Vanessa Tucker of the NGO Freedom House shared her thoughts on some of the institutional challenges which await the countries affected by the Arab Spring, and noted that the development of national identity is linked with each nation’s particular blend of spirituality and psychology. Finally, a panel of three World Goodwill co-workers gave their perspectives on freedom, including the issue of how to give those who have committed crimes the opportunity to re-integrate into society, the importance of UN work on the prevention of genocide, and the inspiring vision of freedom offered by the Bhagavad Gita. And in all three centres, World Goodwill workers highlighted the importance of the cultivation of soul values and the significant impact which meditation can make in helping to implement the new emerging ideals which are needed to transition into a world where free citizens help to secure a spiritual future for humanity.

Seminar/Symposium Report

In the opening address in London, it was proposed that “spiritual security” means that the individual’s highest vision of how to live - in political, religious and cultural terms - can be secured: in other words, that vision is, at least in principle, possible. However, it was noted that in practice, this vitally depends on the degree of freedom within the society where the individual lives. It is worth asking whether, in democratic countries, we take our freedom somewhat for granted. As Aung San Suu Kyi indicates, dissidents in Burma see freedom not as a philosophical ideal, but as “something concrete that has to be gained through practical work”.