Speech by the Founding President of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” Vladimir Yakunin at the opening ceremony of the 10th anniversary session of the Rhodes Forum in Castello, October 3rd, 2012, Rhodes (Greece)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Ten years ago people who talked about intercultural dialogue, about the need to emphasize nonmaterial values rather than the ideology of consumerism, about alternative paths for the development of the world were called dreamers and visionaries. Today the principles of openness, mutual respect, and multilateralism are increasingly recognized as the basis for cooperation between countries, cultures, and nations in the international arena.
Over the last decade, we have witnessed substantial changes in the world, which have led to an expanding global crisis. There is no shortage of explanations for these events, or of proposals for overcoming them in various areas. As we have seen, however, this has not yet led to specific, universally acceptable actions. This confirms our thesis that this crisis is far bigger and far more complicated than socioeconomic issues; this is, first and foremost, a crisis of the moral and intellectual foundations of human existence, and humanity as a whole.
Moreover, throughout the forum’s work, we have consistently spoken of the need to identify the causes of the changes in human identity, the family, and society. From our point of view, overcoming the crisis means consistently changing the content of separate disciplines of knowledge to become more universal and civilizational. Jagdish Kapur indicated the need for even deeper reforms. The creation of a humane world order is his precept not only for us, but also for future generations. It is not accidental that at every Rhodes forum we return to discussions of individual moral responsibilities, civil and intercivilizational humanism. Once again, the contemporary situation speaks volumes about the personal value of every person, the value of public and collective reform of the world for the better, since dialogue, is, in its literal meaning, a dialogue of individuals.
Today the world is on the threshold of global war. We all know what is happening in the Middle East, which forces are leading to imbalance within the countries of Europe, Asia and Africa.
In the 4th Century B.C., Aristotle, who was apropos among the first honorable citizens of Rhodes, wrote: “Armed injustice is the more dangerous, and man is equipped at birth with arms, meant to be used by intelligence and virtue, which he may use for the worst ends. Wherefore, if he have not virtue, he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals”.
We are all witnesses to the savagery that the social model of armament protected consumerism, which has been put in the practice in the 21st century, is leading us; this is both constant armed conflicts and the global stratification of society, based on the principle of injustice, and the destruction of the institution of the family and marriage.
However, none the less, these ten years of the dialogue of civilizations represent the rays of hope, as the Forum’s co-chairman Professor Fred Dallmayr, called the collective monograph, consisting of the best articles by Forum participants. This is the hope that our joint efforts are capable of changing the world, that future generations will be able to preserve their human dignity, take responsibility for its legacy and strive for bringing the ideals of justice and the common good to life.
Let me remind you that in Ancient Rome the Forum was a place for people’s assembly and administration of justice. As Rome fell, the city as well as the civilization, so was devastated by the barbarians the Roman Forum. The Rhodes Forum was founded 10 years ago, it is also a place for representatives of different societies to discuss the most pressing issues of the modern world. But we should not forget what happened to Roman Forum and we should remember that the history tends to repeat itself. The civilizations today face the barbaric geopolitical trends threatening the world’s cultural domain. And this is our common job to withstand these threats.
I wish to congratulate all the members of our web-community, the whole family of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” with the 10-th Anniversary. I would like to appeal to all of the participants in the Rhodes Forum, to all of the people of the dialogue of civilizations to use our intelligence and virtue for the good of humanity, for the triumph of reason over ignorance, justice over injustice and peace over war. This goal may seem unattainable to some, but I believe in our success, and wish all of you the best of luck.