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Key Ingredient for a Better Future

Dec 1, 2020

Image: Blasenalge (Valonia ventricosa, a species of alga with a diameter that ranges typically from 1 to 4 centimetres) is among the largest unicellular species. By Haplochromis – selbst fotografiert von Haplochromis, Public Domain

Global Governance to Meet Global Challenges (#5)

by Sovaida Ma’ani Ewing

Editor’s Note: This article was posted on Sovaida’s Blog on Sunday, November 1, 2020. Originally written as an op-ed piece, the article was picked up and published by several newspapers at the end of October 2020.

If there is one lesson that the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing global economic recession have taught us, it is that we live in a world that is so interconnected and inextricably interdependent that it has effectively become a single organism. This is a reality that no amount of denial will change. On the contrary, such denial will only cause us to suffer more intensely. We will be better off if we fully recognize and embrace this reality.  

It is worth pondering what acceptance of this reality means. Two thoughts come to mind. The first is that if the world is so interconnected that it is truly akin to a single body, it is futile for any single organ or member to claim that it can go it alone without the support and aid of the rest of the body. Just as it would be nonsensical for the liver to tell the kidneys that it does not care if the kidneys are diseased because it is only concerned with its own health, it is similarly untenable for any nation to tell another nation that its problems are its own and are of no interest to others.  

The growing litany of challenges that have been plaguing the world for years—ranging from climate change to the current pandemic—are demonstrating with increasing clarity that in today’s world the advantage of one nation can only be guaranteed by assuring the advantage of the whole world, just as the well-being of any one organ of the body is dependent on the systemic health of the body as a whole. Once we have deeply understood this truth, the next logical step for humanity is to put aside the childish fetish of nationalism and develop new capacities such as consultation, collaboration, and cooperation, worthy of its growing maturity toward unity and the capacity to meet its current needs as a single organism.  

The second thought that comes to mind is that while many of our most intractable challenges are global in nature—including climate change, the threat of nuclear war, COVID-19 and other pandemics, global economic recessions, and terrorism, to name a few—and therefore demand global solutions, we find ourselves entirely lacking the collective decision-making and enforcement institutions we so desperately need to effectively tackle these global challenges.  

Now, more than ever, we need to have an infrastructure of global governance that includes a world legislature that has democratic legitimacy, allowing for the voices of people of all nations to be properly heard in the context of frank and respectful consultation and a fair and transparent system of decision-making that leads to effective results. Imagine how much better off we would all be during this pandemic if such a system of global governance existed today.  

Equally important, however, we need to develop the skill of electing worthy leaders who possess the skills and qualities of character necessary to make service to humanity’s collective interest a prime consideration in all their decisions. This skill is vital to ensure that any new global institutions we create are not subject to abuse.  

We can begin to hone this skill of picking fit leaders who are aware of the interconnectedness of our world and our oneness by practicing it in our elections at home. Every time we think about electing a public servant, whether at the local, state, or national level, we should mindfully seek out a person who recognizes that their job is to guarantee the well-being of the people who elect them while also taking into account the collective interests of the community of nations.


Link to first article in this series.

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Sovaida Ma'ani Ewing, LLM

Director, Center for Peace and Global Governance (CPGG)

My passion for correlating the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith with the urgent needs of our planet was born when, as a teenager, I first came across this quote by Bahá’u’lláh: “Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.” I was so inspired by it that I decided to adopt the quote as the guiding principle of my life. Thus began a wondrous journey of simultaneously educating myself about the global challenges of our times and the guidance offered in the Bahá’í Writings. My purpose through these intervening years has been to find practical ways of applying the vision and framework offered by the Baha’i Writings to solving our global challenges including climate change, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, migration, financial crises, and genocide to name but a few. As a result of intensive research, I have developed a methodology grounded in the Bahá’í Writings of proposing a set of shared global ethics that nations can agree upon and demonstrating how we can apply them methodically to find practical and politically palatable solutions to our global problems. My work has further explored the next steps we can take to build collective decision-making and enforcement institutions as we work to create a new system of global governance along the lines envisioned by Bahá’u’lláh. These institutions are designed to be fit for the 21st century and beyond, and must be grounded in the system of shared global ethics that we agree upon. My work over the years has resulted in the publication of four books in the area of global governance and invitations to speak to audiences around the world with an increasing focus on university students. I have also developed and offered 5-day courses to equip university students and young adults with the mindset and tools to tackle our pressing global crises. In addition to my blog, I am currently developing a series of videos which I hope to have available on my website (www.cpgg.org) by the end of this year (2019). I have coached and mentored many students; engaging in meaningful dialogues with them has been the highlight of my work. While they are bright and engaged and completely vested in solving the looming global challenges they will inherit, they are not yet tainted with the cynicism and apathy that seems to have overtaken my generation. The future of our world will be determined by who they become and what they choose to do. Listen to Sovaida’s interview with Rainn Wilson on ‘Bahá’í Blogcast' Listen to Sovaida’s interview on ‘A Bahá’í Perspective’ podcastSee Faculty Bio

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