Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
What mind and heart are to human kind, Hellas is to mankind.
We are all Greeks. Our laws, literature, religion and the arts have their roots in Greece.
At the start of 2022 the World Philosophical Forum (WPF) not only calls for a re-imagining of life (a new definition) but also for the redefinition of its purpose and importance at every stage of development, condition and situation as well as the development of well-being in every culture viewed and activated through the prism of ancient Greece whose meaning included a well examined life, wisdom, logic, ethics, personal responsibility and obligation of everyone as represented in classical philosophy. Philosophy is an enlightening agent and a boon to culture.
Irina Bokova, former Secretary-General of UNESCO, played an important role in the founding of the WPF in Athens in 2009 by Russian philosopher Igor Kondrashin and Greek Academician, the late Evangelos Moutsopoulos. The goal of the WPF is to move the world and humanity away from threatening disaster and lead it to a brighter future. In this future, we will not only celebrate philosophy and classical ideas every year, but also apply it daily and universally. The WPF suggests that everyone, everywhere on the endangered Earth should use these attributes. The WPF strongly supports the United Nations (UN) which has done incredible things for the world of women, children, education and health for all and a society for all ages, for sustainable development and a means to promote a culture of peace.
The concept and implementation of the UN's forgotten human security framework, which aims to protect civilians from the mercy or actions of their own governments, is more urgently needed than ever; defending human rights and ensuring world peace continue to weaken as the UN’s response weakens. We believe that the United Nations has enough power to stand fast before the powerful, sufficient intelligence and experience to lead with inspiration and is in a position to call on tremendous expertise, which it must do if it is to retain relevance. It must make waves — act big and act now to make a difference. It has yet to invest in classical philosophers. UNESCO today does not respond to WPF invitations. Neither is it on its recipient list of information.
In the achievements of the United Nations, only once (and temporarily) was the importance of philosophy given the recognition it deserves. It occurred in the days of Ban Ki Moon, predecessor to António Guterres whom many see as insignificant. I believe his prestige as an aristocrat of the earth can be maintained should he return global citizenship and classical philosophy to the international agenda. He emphasized civic education saying it is more important than literacy and numeracy. He called on all people from all countries to invest in Global Citizenship. With Ban Ki Moon, philosophy came as close to application as the Doomsday Clock comes close to midnight today. In the international community it is easier to meet business people and listen to business model discussions than to find a classic philosopher or to hear conversations about global citizenship.
The power of philosophy is an unused tool in decision-making even in the chambers of the international community, as resolutions are issued with the intention of leading the world away from catastrophe. Irina Bokova once said that philosophy instills humility. Audrey Azoulay, her successor as Secretary General of UNESCO, says philosophy is a bastion against the narrowness of views and minds, while the greater the difficulty of finding solutions to a problem, the greater the need for philosophy. Widespread study of philosophical knowledge to support the concept of Global Citizenship was an initiative of Irina Bokova. Its revitalization is essential. Recently, she was a keynote speaker in a Symposium on the Future of Education.
No one is doing enough to make the world and its inhabitants safer in their protection from the danger of a nuclear war, and by hybrid means, from the disastrous effects of climate change or by ensuring that the benefits of artificial intelligence will not be overwhelmed by its negative side. In Greece our voice is small and sotto voce. Our appeals do not appeal to politics. Our appeals are shelved. Why?
Our most recent appeal emerged twin-like from the 12th Dialectical Symposium of the WPF, Athens and the 9th Youth Forum of the European Center for Peace and Development (University for Peace established by the United Nations) in Belgrade. It referenced the statement of António Guterres of a world moving towards the abyss in the wrong direction, which expresses our great concern with the predicament and problems engulfing our world. They include rising tides of refugees, and hunger and the voice of the youth. The youth cry out, ‘enough is enough, there is only one race, the human race and it knows that its world may collapse suddenly.’
The institutions of Greece are not as autonomous as they should be, while political parties demand homage. The state can treat them more with a nail in the coffin than any examination of their needs and contribution to society. With so many doctors in Parliament over time, there is no National Health Policy and an annual National Health Report is not a given. It is curious that various and numerous proposals for Primary Health Care and Public Health are never implemented. Europe is fully aware of the excessive burden that austerity measures caused in Greece and is well aware that investing in Public Health brings a rich harvest. The Greek government supports the maintenance and potential use of nuclear weapons. It voted against a resolution of the UN General Assembly in 2019 that pursued the adoption of a special treaty to ban them. In the same year it deep-sixed its unique School of Public Health which caused no ripple of reaction in the highest scientific institution of the nation.
An investment in Greece as proposed by the World Philosophical Forum, would benefit education, especially for children and young people who tomorrow will inherit the mess we leave behind. It can act as a strong magnet playing a role in retaining or recruiting important national talent, function as a steam valve for controlling the release of negative forces and avoid the tendency for extremism. Applied classical philosophy can restore reduced autonomy to vital institutions; can act as a vehicle of humanity and an antidote to despair. It will lead to more meaningful lives. Nothing is possible without a well-educated population and without independent institutions, while prevention works best in a democracy.
As the symbolic doomsday clock ticks down1 and the number of conflicts on multiple levels and between many actors grow, the only route for humanity is in a culture for peace and a return of classical philosophy. In Greece, the voice of the World Philosophical Forum must be amplified and its mission supported.
The World Philosophical Forum wishes Greece an upward course as it enters its 3rd Century and emphasizes the catalytic role of philosophy. It also emphasizes that Greece has limited geopolitical space for influence and maneuvers, but a rich degree of freedom for decision making based on the attributes of classical Greece which still has much to offer the world. I wish my colleagues a philosophical 2022 full of health and as few problems as possible.
P.S. I am disappointed and dismayed. ‘Enough is enough’ say the youth and all clear thinking people the world over. I hope we can go ahead and make a fresh start, for our children and their children, for our grandchildren and their children. I do hope they can inherit a bright future. I believe that even with President Biden's entrance we cannot escape a new Armageddon. Our way of life is really in the balance. Realistically, I ask, is it too late? If we escape doom even with the pooled innovation of the world, can there be an ark? I do not see a will in politics to halt disaster. Lip service supported by big coin is strong. Those who are rowing to peaceful shores are very few, with boats that need retrofitting and have to deal with disruptive counter currents and denied entry into safe harbor. Elderly nuns are jailed. Truth tellers are harassed and opponents are slandered. Human security has been ditched and humans and human rights are being crushed. Wonderful statements are made, impressive words flow from inspirational pens. Though no one seems to want to go too far.
Democratic governments hold back. The international community treads water. We have lived through COP-out. Now I am somewhat numb and my finger refuses to budge in sympathy with the unmoved hand of the Doomsday Clock. 10 seconds backward in hope might have been more appropriate, or worse still, 10 seconds forward towards that dreadful hour and more in keeping with my feeling of reality. Having listened to the set of distinguished speakers, I am disappointed and dismayed with the decision. This does not mean that I want you to give up your most important work. With 100 seconds still in place etched in marble, a young bright face alluded to communications; communication between people, organizations and people within them, countries and systems and institutions. The big problem? I say tomatoes, you say tomatoes while their seeds have been ceded to big coin.
1 On 20th January 2022, the 75th anniversary Doomsday Clock announcement was made, remaining at 100 seconds to midnight. My setting in 2021 was 90 seconds. This year 2022, my setting is 60 seconds to midnight.