With the arrival of 2011, we would do well to recognize the future when we see it. For this reason, Arianna's recent blogs, South American Diary, Chile: More Than Miners Are Being Rescued and It Might Be Time to Rebrand It the South American Dream, are among the more important posts to have appeared on this website. Why? Because they show us what our future will be, if we play our cards right. Her description of the leadership of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera and the efforts of Brazil to make fundamental social advances, such as the elimination of poverty, offers a message that we dare not let pass as the old year slides into the new.
What's happening in Brazil and Chile heralds a new era emerging now on the planet, vividly demonstrating that there is a way to solve the problems we currently face. That path to resolution, and the term for the phenomenon Arianna describes, is dignitarian. In its simplest form, it means acting to protect, enhance, and serve the dignity of all. Not just special interests and lobbyists, banks and financiers, corporations, or political factions; not just friends and family or your network of buddies; and not just the people who voted for you or whom you officially represent. To be dignitarian means to protect the dignity of all. All of the people, all of the time. Regardless of our role in life--whether we're considered a "somebody" or a "nobody" or something in between--we can all be dignitarians, and now a few countries are showing us how.
Dignity is the principle that explains why, in one moment, a conservative politician might choose a course of action that's considered politically liberal and, in another, stick to the party line. Or why two opposing political parties can find common goals, such as becoming the first country to eliminate poverty. The deciding factor--whether articulated or not--is dignity. The question to ask is always: Does this decision, this initiative, this approach, serve the dignity of all? This is transpartisan politics at its best. It is also leadership in its purest form.
Chile's and Brazil's emerging efforts at social transformation, resulting from dignitarian leadership, are harbingers of the future, prime examples of the global emergence of a practical dignitarian vision. We may not see this for awhile yet in the United States, which, as Arianna noted, seems locked into a vise-grip of right/left political wrangling. For certain, though, it's becoming more visible globally. Brazil has been quietly moving in a dignitarian direction for some time now, mostly below the radar. Bangladesh is another example, worth mentioning because of the rapid momentum that is building there to launch a dignity movement.
Thus far, this has occurred in Bangladesh largely through the efforts of one organization, Civic Bangladesh, under the leadership of its founder and executive director Bayezid Dawla. In a few short years Civic Bangladesh, seeking to actualize the principles of Bangladesh's 1971 constitution (liberty, dignity, and justice), has established chapters of what is called the "Dignity Forum" in every district in the country. These forums are comprised of grass-roots leaders working to operationalize the concept of dignity in every area of endeavor: human rights, children's protective services, education, agriculture, business, finance, economics, the arts, the environment, workplace conditions and employees' rights, to name just some of them. Mr. Dawla and Civic Bangladesh have organized local and regional conferences and have secured the interest and support of officials at the highest levels of government, education, law, and other sectors. The upcoming national conference, entitled "Dignity for All: Bangladesh as a Model for the Global Community," which even the country's president will attend, is truly historic. Conference sessions will map out strategies to create a dignitarian culture in five different sectors of society: Arts and Culture, Education, Healthcare, Governance, and Media. All signs, at the moment, point to Bangladesh rivaling Brazil and perhaps Chile, as it moves forward with its stated goal of eliminating poverty, as the first country to actively commit to creating a dignitarian society. Perhaps there are other countries as well, proceeding in similar directions, which haven't yet caught our attention.
A new world is coming. The future is on its way.
The value of examples like Chile, Brazil, and Bangladesh is that they show the world what is possible. If dignity for all can become a primary value--a value that can be actualized--in one country, or two or three, or more, there is no reason the same can't occur in many countries, even all of them.
So Arianna's blog, written shortly before the new year turned, must be noted. It predicts the future by showing us what is emerging now on the planet. It shows us that, as Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy once wrote: "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way."
Welcome, Dignitarian World.
Happy New Year.