In my job as General Director of UNESCO, I had the chance to work with decision makers from all over the world. I have discussed with 110 heads of states or governments, regarding international issues such as education, science, culture and telecommunication. I have had the chance to discuss with them at length and to get to know them as people who face incredible challenges. I have admired the strength of their ideas and their visionary spirit that some of them were projecting. In almost all the cases, I have shared with them feelings of solitude and disappointment, when involved in difficult issues within a context of weak decision making structures. Often. even the best leaders need to work with a lot of patience with governmental burocracy , who try to push the boundaries of their activity deadlines for the next week, next month or next year. To me it is very clear and I believe that for many leaders, the solution to our problems of today will require a very accurate and more scientific knowledge, than the one we have about governments. However, this knowledge can be used to ensure a long-term vision of the abilities and valid options to the decision makers, so that they can overcome the vision of resolving only the seasonal or annual mini-crises. The present reality and the future interests us less than the past.
A new revival can only be achieved through persistence, courage and knowledge. Everybody has a role to play and each one of us should try to intermingle these qualities when dealing with global or local issues. Often I say that “ taking risks without having any knowledge is dangerous, but also knowledge without taking risks it is not useful”. May be the only fixed idea that I have developed in myself is the terrorizing idea of a day passed without doing something useful, and lost time. Often we are not capable to act as a result of not being able to feel intensively and immediately the sufferings that people go through; sufferings of the poor people in the poor countries. We should fight against this kind of apathy, often dressed up in an academics or political ‘gown’, awaiting the perfect knowledge, loosing the valuable time writing reports after reports (I call these people “the reporting society”).
In these circumstances we need the perseverance of a rebel. It calls for a mixture between politics and ethics – which is expressed better in a game of words that I use, “pol ethikues”. Ethics should inspire our political actions with such a transparency and imagination that pushes us to face big problems such as increase of population, massive immigration within and between countries, environmental degradation and poverty. The solution to these and other problems is becoming more evident.
President Diouf, of Senegal, has written “the road to modernizations means determination”. Each one of us has the duty to be determined to achieve our dreams and ideals. In this way, we should raise our voice, each one in his ways, and resist apathy. Some years ago, the west believed in its solutions. The rest of the world believed the West had the solutions. However, the conclusion was that “the lightening far can lighten in economic terms, in narrow areas and for a short period”. This derived into something very positive: all of us took a very important lesson, the need to be always in alert and attentive. If we try to express it with passion, politics, at any level, is not at all “the art of the possible”. In reality we need that persistent rebellion who, everyday, requires to establish the ethics in your actions and to make dreams come true…