Warm Congratulations to our Graduating Students!
Scientists tell us that Planet Earth is about 4.5 billion years. Homo Sapiens is about 200,000 years old. If we subtract 200,000 from 4.5 billion years we see that Planet Earth — for most of its existence — has been empty and devoid of humans. Just imagine Earth, empty of humans, silently orbiting our sun, in God’s domain, for all that time, in endless, war-less space.
What the planet has done before, it can easily do again. You, graduates, face a future world of potential nuclear war, the collapse of the eco-system environmental suicide, mass death, mass migrations — what some philosophers are calling nightfall.
Or, a perhaps more cheerful scenario, The Singularity — a world in which we are all so hyper-connected through social media and artificial intelligence, that we see the human species as one happy family, a family that outlaws extreme nationalism in war and disrespect for humans rights. A human family that will act as you graduates have been taught to do — building bridges instead of walls, seeking the truth rather than inventing lies.
I expect you graduates to be good leaders. You will be better, by far, than some (all too many!) of the world leaders we have today. In Britain, it looks like Boris Johnson will become Prime Minister. Think of it! — the Special Relationship, the US and Britain, run by not one, but two clowns — racist deceivers with inter-changeable hair. Each wishes to build something “exclusive” [quote/unquote] keeping out “the lesser people” [quote/unquote]. It is an abhorrent way of looking at the world, at “the other” [quote/unquote].
By contrast, we demand of you graduates — sophisticated and better educated — that you build bridges, not walls. Take to the oceans, trade more, travel more, reach out more! It is the fearful who build walls. The courageous, like you, build bridges. It is for the open society, not the closed, that you have been educated: bigotry and chauvinism have no place. Think of the planet as a whole, the planet with its small unique place in our galaxy. Aboard this small sphere, our planet, everyone is Family, everyone your brother or sister.
This is your mission and task — as an educated woman, as an educated man.
The 17th-century metaphysical poet, John Donne, wrote:
“Any man’s death diminishes me
for I am involved in mankind…
and therefore, never send to know
for whom the bell tolls.
It tolls for thee!”
On the subject of climate change alone, we need to do better, far better! You will do better.
This last January, here in Switzerland, more than 1,500 jet aircraft flew into Davos — among other things, to discuss climate change, global warming.
The surrounding, pristine white snow of the Swiss Alps, like the planet itself, darkened and wept polluted tears.
In regard to thinking globally, let me here mention just a few random examples of GSD outreach through its embryo centers, among them
- The GSD Center of Blue Diplomacy
- The GSD Silk Road Center
- The GSD Center of Digital Diplomacy
- The GSD Clopath Center of Digital Trade and Technology
- The GSD Center of Middle East Studies
In regard to Blue Diplomacy — an expression more or less invented by GSD — we are very much in the lead in the study and advancement of helping countries to trade, protect their trade routes, protect their coastlines, their access to the wealth and opportunities of the world’s oceans.
We can all remember when the word “green” began to emerge, in an ecological and political context. From sounding marginal, the “ greens” went on to form political parties, then win elections — placing their voice and policies, rightfully so, high on our political agendas.
Now the word of the future is … blue: you will be hearing more about blue diplomacy, blue issues, etc. in the years ahead. We at GSD are pioneering much of the work and research on blue diplomacy — and on related political, trade and geo-economic issues. We will, untiringly, promote “blue peace” [quote/unquote].
The GSD Center of Silk Road Diplomacy is another GSD initiative that is eliciting powerful political support from countries such as China, Turkey, Iran — and most countries located on what was once the ancient Silk Road.
Indeed, some GSD initiatives naturally overlap. After its recent advances in building the Iron Silk Road, for rail transport, China is now very interested in the Maritime Silk Road: digital trade is increasingly important.
In this regard, the GSD Center for Digital Trade and Technology is at the cutting edge of progress. The Center is named for the pioneering work being done by our colleague, Dr. Gregg Clopath, a brilliant former Macro-Economics student of mine. The Clopath Digital Trade Center is based here in GSD as well as on the island of Cyprus. Its work is sought out and sought after by growing numbers of players from among the world’s main trading nations.
In regard to ocean trading, the Atlantic is by far the busiest ocean, followed by the Pacific.
Both the North Atlantic and the South Atlantic carry vast tonnage in trade each year. But the “often over-looked” [quote/unquote] Indian Ocean is rapidly heading for second place among the busiest seas. We will hear much more about the Indian Ocean in the future — it’s trading, political and geo-economic importance now steadily increasing.
Time this morning does not permit me to talk more about GSD Centres. Suffice to say, in regard to the GSD Center for Middle East Studies that GSD is asked its advice regularly. And suffice to say that countries that are essentially Desert Powers — as their economies slow or falter — are increasingly advised by us, rather than build more empty skyscrapers, that they focus more on the development of their maritime trade routes.
The above GSD Centres I have mentioned are also just a few examples — there are many others — of the Think Tank that is also GSD. GSD is a centre of ideas. It is also a place that produces leaders — like you new graduates. And yes, for you new graduates, though I have touched on some of the worrying challenges ahead of you, the news is of course, not all bad. Very great strides have been already made in the making of this a better world.
For the first time in history, infectious diseases now kill fewer people than old age, famine kills fewer people than obesity, and violence kills fewer people than accidents. Famines are usually a thing of the past in our modern world. And, with its highly important Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs], the international community has already laid out a road-map for the future safety and development of humankind. The road-map too has tasks for us all. Indeed, our theme this morning is “Make Our Planet Cool Again!”
Much needed now are new leaders — like you graduates, educated in the complexities and possibilities of global problems. The continuation of your open spirits is what I wish to encourage this morning. We have nothing to fear but fear itself, as Franklin Roosevelt said. Stay committed to peace, to open societies, to democracy, to human rights! The future of humanity depends on young shoulders such as yours. And on your brave hearts.
Do not be tempted to build walls, instead of bridges. Do not think of yourself as superior to any man or woman on this planet. You are not! — though you have been privileged and blessed with greater opportunity and education. Don’t even think of rolling back progress on human rights — in pursuit of an ignoble and spurious “exclusivity”.
I think of Ulysses addressing his crew before they set out on their last voyage. Given the heavy challenges ahead of you graduates in our current troubled world — along with the unshakeable confidence I have in your idealism — the words of the Greek hero apply well to you this morning:
“Come, my friends, it’s not too late to seek a newer world…
for our purpose holds, to sail beyond the sunset,
and the baths of all the western stars until we die.
Though much is taken, much abides.
And though we are not now that strength
that in old days made earth and heaven,
that which we are, we are —
one equal temper of heroic hearts
made weak by time and fate,
but strong in will,
to strive, to seek, to find,
and not to yield!”