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Monday, February 23, 2015 @ 05:02 AM
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A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 58). This blog is a continuation of the review of The End of Poverty: How We Can Make it Happen in Our Life Time, by Jeffrey Sachs, published in 2005

Table 1: The Millennium Development Goals
Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day
Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

Achieve universal primary education
Ensure that by 2015 children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

Promote gender equality and empower women
Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and to all levels of education no later than 2015

Reduce child mortality
Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate

Improve maternal health
Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio

Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases

Ensure environmental sustainability
Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources
Halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
By 2020 to have achieved a significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

Develop a global partnership for development
Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, nondiscriminatory trading and financial system. Includes a commitment to good governance, development, and poverty reduction – both nationally and internationally
Address the special needs of the least developed countries. This includes: tariff- and quota-free access for least developed countries’ exports; an enhanced program of debt relief for HIPC and cancellation of official bilateral debt; and more generous ODA for countries committed to poverty reduction
Address the special needs of landlocked countries and small island developing states (through the Program of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the outcome of the twenty-second special session of the General Assembly)
Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term
In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth
In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable, essential drugs in developing countries
In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communication

The 1978 pledge of “Health for All by the Year 2000.”
The MDGs could, no doubt, engender some cynicism as well as hope. In many cases, the goals repeated long-held commitments of the international community that had not been fulfilled in the past. After all, one of the famous commitments of the past century was the international community’s 1978 pledge of “Health for All by the Year 2000.” Yet the world arrived in 2000 with the AIDS pandemic, resurgent TB and malaria, and billions of the world’s poor without reliable, or sometimes any, access to essential health services.

Universal access to primary education by the year 2000
At the World Summit for Children in 1990, the world pledged universal access to primary education by the year 2000, yet 130 million or more primary-aged children were not in school by then. The rich world had famously committed to the target of 0.7% of GNP devoted to official development assistance (ODA), direct financial aid to poor countries, yet the share of financial aid as a proportion of rich-world GNP had actually declined from 0.3% to 0.2% during the 1990s.

A palpable sense that they might be fulfilled.
Still, when the world leaders adopted the Millennium Declaration, and the MDGs within the Declaration, there was a palpable sense that this time – yes, this time – they just might be fulfilled. The world felt that with the strength of the ongoing economic boom, the vast new power of modern technologies, and the uniqueness of our global interconnectedness, this time we would follow through.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012 @ 07:04 AM
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GEORGE RONALD                       1989



Chapter 28: Preparing for a Just Society (Cont.)

The Family

Beyond the individual comes the family. As in the other great religions, the idea of family is upheld in the Bahá’í Faith, where it is seen as a basic building-block of society. Accordingly, men and women are enjoined to marry if they can find the right partner, and professional celibacy is deplored. The purpose of marriage and family is two-fold: (1) to produce children, and (2) to promote the spiritual development of all family members. Thus marriage is described as ‘a fortress of well-being and salvation’. It is within the bosom of the family that a child learns to have a loving relationship with others, and it is this habit which enables the child to have such an attitude when he or she grows up and goes out into the wider world.

Each member of the family has special rights and duties. One of the most important duties of parents is the education of their children:

It is enjoined upon the father and the mother, as a duty, to strive with all effort to train the daughter and the son, to nurse them from the breast of knowledge and to rear them in the bosom of sciences and arts. Should they neglect this matter, they shall be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of the stern Lord. This (to fail to educate a child) is a sin unpardonable, for they have made that poor babe a wanderer in the Sahara of ignorance, unfortunate and tormented; to remain during a lifetime a captive of ignorance and pride, negligent and without discernment.

Parents are responsible for all aspects of their child’s education, physical, mental and spiritual, of which the most important is the spiritual. Spiritual education should start at an early age and is then a particular responsibility of the mother because of her closeness to the child at that time in its life. Bahá’ís base their moral education on the teachings of the Faith, but children are also taught about other religions and philosophies as well, so as to increase understanding  of and sympathy with others. There is no pressure put on children to follow their parents’ faith for traditional reasons; it is recognised that each person must chooses his own philosophy of how to live. Great emphasis is also placed on that aspect of intellectual education which will be of benefit to all society:


Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words.

Bahá’ís try to raise their children with a balance between kindness and firmness, emphasising the encouragement of good qualities rather than focusing on faults, the father and mother trying to give a good example by their own behaviour and to be consistent. Parents should not beat their children or abuse them verbally: this will only make the children hate their home and so defeat the family’s main purpose.

In view of the importance of the family as an instrument for the creation of the just society, it is not surprising that the Bahá’í Writings provide means for ensuring the strength and lonegevity of marriage, at the core of the family. The first principle of Bahá’í marriage is monogamy, a principle clearly related to the teachings about the equality of men and women. The fact that this is the first time in history that a great religion has been specific on this issue is perhaps another indicator that the time has come when there will be no more wars: polygamy has been justified in the past by the frequent shortage of men from deaths on the battlefield.

Another group of teachings relate to the preparation for marriage. Those searching for a marriage partner are advised to look first for spiritual qualities, because though physical attraction is important that alone will not ensure a lasting marriage. The qualities to be sought are loyalty, faithfulness, honesty, trustworthiness, generosity, absence of a jealous, possessive or domineering spirit, a willingness to work hard, and a balanced attitude to family economics, that is, being neither a spendthrift nor a miser. Such a person will have the strength to successfully handle the hard times as well as the good times. A sign of maturity is a sense of humour and an ability to laugh with others, not at others. A marriage relationship has the best chance of success if each partner is appreciative, sensitive, fundamentally at one with himself or herself, and if there is an understanding that what comes out of marriage will depend very much on what is put into it.

There are two important requirements relating to the marriage ceremony. The first is that the future man and wife state: ‘We will all verily abide by the Will of God.’ This means that the marriage is a spiritual contract involving God as well as the two partners, and that each partner submits to the will of God, not one partner to the will of the other! The second requirement is that prior assent to the marriage be given by both the two individuals concerned (not always the practice in the East, even today) and by all living parents (frequently not the case in modern Western society). This law helps to better assure that the partners are well suited by widening the number of those who have to make a decision. This is a responsibility which the parents are enjoined to take seriously. The law also serves to strengthen the wider family relationship and acts as a counter to the modern narrow nuclear family, where much of the richness of real family life has been lost, to the cost especially of the children.

After marriage, the partners (and later the children) are encouraged to consult and pray together regularly and to avoid the autocratic style of family relationships which in the past has crushed both love and the spiritual development of parents and children alike. The sexual relationship between the parents is seen as a healthy and desirable means of strengthening the ties of marriage. For this reason, as well as the obvious danger of sexual promiscuity has in promoting the lower or animal side of our nature, men and women alike should confine their sexual activity to marriage. The Bahá’í view of chastity goes beyond just abstinence from the physical act to include thoughts (which can often be detected by others), manners, posture, and style of dress. Sexual promiscuity only serves to create destructive comparisons and undermines trust. Predatory sexual attitudes not only affect the marriage partners but create division and mistrust in the wider community. It should be added that homosexuality is abhorred: however, the Bahá’í attitude is not one of self-righteous condemnation, but rather one of helping, in a loving way, someone who is in need of medical assistance and has a particular problem, which if addressed resolutely will lead to great spiritual growth. Divorce is permitted in the Bahá’í Faith but is strongly discouraged. It should be considered only when there is complete aversion between the marriage partners and in the light of the teaching that those who cause a divorce bear a heavy spiritual responsibility. If, after every effort, a couple feel unable to continue a marriage, they may apply to Bahá’í institutions for a divorce which will be granted after a year of patience during which they live in separate households and final opportunities are available for reconciliation.

Collective action

The third dimension of the Bahá’í programme for a just society (to be continued)

Monday, April 2, 2012 @ 05:04 AM
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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS                       1991




Chapter 3: The fertile Substrate

Chapter 4: The Vital Fluid

Chapter 5: The Dynamic Cycle

Chapter 6: The Primary Producers

Chapter 7: The Tenuous Balance



Chapter 8: Human Origins

History does not merely resurrect a dead past. In the words of Thucydides: “Knowledge of the past is an aid to interpretation of the future.” If we can truly learn from past experience, we may be better able to improve our current use of the environment. If we focus our attention exclusively upon the predicaments of the moment, however, we may find ourselves repeatedly surprised by a host of bewildering problems seeming to come out of nowhere, without a past and hence without direction. How did these problems arise? Chances are, the seeds of the phenomena we witness today were planted some time ago by our predecessors, as indeed we are planting the seeds of the future – perhaps unknowingly – at this very moment.

  • The story of mankind begins more than three million years ago, when a genus of primates evolved to the point where it became recognizably humanoid.
  • Over extended periods of time, biological evolution appears to proceed very slowly by a long series of small, almost imperceptible, changes.
  • Then, periodically, thresholds are reached that trigger seemingly sudden transformations, due to chance occurrences of genetic mutations, or to shifts in environmental conditions, or – more likely – to combinations or sequences of these.
  • Ever since Charles Darwin first elaborated on the possible circumstances of human origin in his 1871 book, The Descent of Man, anthropologists have been speculating on the sequence of events that gradually brought about the astonishing metamorphosis of a tree-dwelling, quadripedal, herbivorous ape into a ground-dwelling, bipedal, tool-making, omnivorous hominid.
  • A crucial step appears to have been the shift from four-legged to two-legged locomotion.
  • This was followed by further structural and functional evolution. The eyes were adapted to stereoscopic vision for judging distances.
  • The hands developed a capability for the precision grip used in making and employing tools.
  • The brain grew in size and function as it developed the ability to process more information and to generate complex logical thoughts.

Our species’ birth place was apparently in the continent of Africa, and its original habitat was probably the subtropical savannas which constitute the transitional areas of sparsely wooded grasslands lying between the zone of the humid and dense tropical forests and the zone of the semiarid steppes. We can infer the warm climate of our place of origin from the fact that we are naturally so scantily clad, or furless; and we can infer the open landscape from the way we are conditioned to walk, run, and gaze over long distances.

  • Fossil discoveries in East Africa during recent decades have revealed facts that have added dramatically to our knowledge of human origins.
  • For at least 90% of its career, the human animal existed merely as one member of a community of numerous species who shared the same environment.
  • Humans neither dominated other species nor brought about any fundamental modification of the common environment. They were gatherers, scavengers, and hunters.
  • They diversified their diet to include the flesh of animals as well as nuts, berries, fruits, seeds, succulent leaves, bulbs, tubers, and fleshy roots.

The story of how humans ascended from their humble apelike origins to venture far from their birthplace, and range over a variety of climates and landscapes, is a remarkable saga of audacity, ingenuity, perseverance, and adaptability. In fact humans have proved to be the most adaptable of all terrestrial mammals. Their mode of adaptation was not entirely genetic or physical: there was not enough time for that. Rather, their adaptation was in large part behavioural. Instead of relying on physical prowess, they had to use inventiveness to survive the elements and to compete successfully against stronger animals. In the course of their migration and expansion, our ancient forebears therefore had to develop and mobilize all the cunning and intelligence that eventually made them – and us – so unique a species. The increase of brain size and manual dexterity, as well as the invention of various stratagems, gradually enabled humans to overcome the constraints of their ancestry.

  • By 1 million years ago, hominids had become taller (about 1.5 meters in height), and had acquired a larger brain.
  • Some evidence has been found in Southern and Eastern Africa of repetitive occurrences of brush fires, apparently set by humans nearly a million years ago, signifying the beginning of human manipulation of the earth’s ecosystems.
  • The use of fire became even more important when humans moved out of the tropics into colder climes.
  • By about 250,000 B.P. (Before the Present), humans had evolved into the type that anthropologists call Homo sapiens, and had spread to Europe and Asia.
  • Some time before 50,000 B.P., a race of humans called Neanderthals, who lived during the last Ice Age, were making cutting tools with flaked flint.
  • By about 40,000 years ago, modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens), evidently indistinguishable from us today in physical features and in intelligence, had gained dominance.
  • Clad in garments made of animal skins, able to make and use a variety of implements, and armed with a growing array of weapons – including spears and bows and arrows – humans were able to range and settle in locations and climes far from their ancestral home.

All the while they continued to evolve biologically through genetic change and natural selection, increasingly aided by cultural and technological development. To survive the harsh winters of colder climates, they had to find or construct shelters, and to huddle in family or tribal groupings for mutual assistance and the rearing of their slow-growing offspring. In their leisure time, they painted animals on cave walls and carved ritual objects. They also had to contrive increasingly sophisticated methods of obtaining and storing foods, including the selective gathering, processing, and preservation of biological products, and eventually the domestication of plants and animals.

  • This series of changes has been termed the Paleolithic (Early Stone Age) Transformation.
  • Gradually, as they continued to elaborate and perfect their tools of wood, bone, and stone, as well as their techniques and social organization, humans assumed an increasingly active and eventually dominant role in shaping their environment.
  • Each modification of the environment entailed additional human responses, which in turn further modified the environment, so that a process of escalating dual metamorphosis was instigated.
  • Human intelligence and culture were both cause and effect in that fateful interplay. The peculiarly dynamic and progressive evolution of human ecology is the true history of our species.
  • In time, the practice of clearing woodlands and shrublands by repeated firings also set the stage for the advent of agriculture.
  • As vegetation is affected by fire-setting hunters, so are soils. Following repeated fires and deforestation, soil erosion and landslides often result in the greatly increased transport of silt by streams, and in the deposit of that silt in river valleys and estuaries.
  • The gradual intensification of land use continued throughout the Paleolithic period, so that by its later stages nearly all the regions of human habitation had experienced some anthropogenic modification of the floral and faunal communities.

Humans recognized nutritional and medicinal plants, observed their life cycles, and learned to encourage and take advantage of their natural propagation patterns. They learned to build rafts and boats of various type and thereby to exploit aquatic resources. As they became more mobile, the rivers and lakes that were once barriers became arteries of travel and transport. They developed implements for grinding and cooking vegetable and animal products, and weapons for hunting larger game animals. Success in these endeavors provided them with the leisure to develop social and cultural activities: music, dances, rituals, ceremonies, storytelling, rites of passage, creative arts, and the crafting of useful and decorative articles. Their success also brought about a growth in population, which in turn induced further geographic expansion and intensification of land use in quest of additional sources of livelihood.

Chapter 9: The Agricultural Transformation


Tuesday, March 27, 2012 @ 07:03 AM
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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS                       1991



Chapter 2: Man’s Role on God’s Earth

We live on a unique planet bathed in the light and warmth of a nearby star we call the sun. Alone among the planets revolving around that star, ours is endowed with the fortuitous – though ever tenuous – combination of conditions capable of generating and sustaining the miracle of life. And what a rich and abounding variety of life our earth has spawned! It includes millions of types of creatures, each unique in form and function, yet all engaged interdependently in an elaborate dynamic performance, like players in an enormous philharmonic orchestra. Altogether, the multitude of plants and animals coexist both competitively and cooperatively in a more or less stable community self-regulated by an intricate set of checks and balances.

Pondering the intrinsic mutuality of life on earth, one cannot but wonder at the discordant anomaly that has so recently intruded upon nature’s pluralistic harmony: How did one species gain such overwhelming dominance over so many others, indeed over the very processes that control all life? And how could the members of this clever species fail so utterly and for so long to realize the dire consequences of their carelessly exercised dominance?

For soil thou art

  • The Hebrew Bible provides a profoundly symbolic account of the act of creation, the beginning of life on earth and the origin and role of humankind.
  • The first two chapters in the Book of Genesis give not one but two accounts of creation.

Latent in one of the main founts of Western Civilization we have two opposite perceptions of man’s destiny. One is anthropocentric: man is not part of nature but set above it. His manifest destiny is to be an omnipotent master over nature, which from the outset was created for his gratification. He is endowed with the power and the right to dominate all other creatures, toward whom he has no obligations.

The other view is more earthly and modest. Man is made of soil and is given a “living soul,” but no mention is made of his being “in the image of God.” Man is not set above nature. Moreover, his power is constrained by duty and responsibility. Man’s appointment is not an ordination but an assignment. The earth is not his property; he is neither its owner nor its master. Rather, man is a custodian, entrusted with the stewardship of God’s garden, and he can enjoy it only on the condition that he discharge his duty faithfully. This view of humanity’s role accords with the modern ecological principle that the life of every species is rooted not in separateness from nature but in integration with it.

  • Over the generations, it has generally been the arrogant and narcissistic view, implied in the first Biblical account, that has prevailed.
  • It has repeatedly been cited and used as a religious justification or rationale for man’s unbridled and relentless exploitation of the environment.
  • The question now is whether we have learned our lesson and are ready at last to accept the long-ignored second view of our proper role in relation to nature.
  • The ancient Hebrew association of man with soil is echoed in the Latin name for man, homo, derived from humus, the stuff of life in the soil.
  • This powerful metaphor suggests an early realization of a profound truth that humanity has since disregarded to its own detriment.
  • Other ancient cultures evoke powerful associations similar to those of the Hebrew Bible.
  • In the teachings of Buddha, not only the earth itself but indeed all its life forms (even those that may seem lowliest) are spiritually sacred.

Worship of the earth long predated agriculture and continued after its advent. The earth was held sacred as the embodiment of a great spirit, the creative power of the universe, manifest in all phenomena of nature. The earth spirit was believed to give shape to the features of the landscape and to regulate the seasons, the cycles of fertility, and the lives of animals and humans. Rocks, trees, mountains, springs, and caves were recognized as spectacles for this spirit, which the Romans attributed to their earth goddess, Tellus.

The cult of the earth spirit is perhaps the oldest and most universal element in all religions. The Australian aborigines and the African Bushmen, among the last to have maintained the pre-agricultural hunter-gatherer mode of life, have always sanctified and revered the earth as the great provider, the source of all inspiration and sustenance. So did the American Indians. In 1852, when the United States Government wished to purchase the land of the Indian tribes in the Northwest, their Chief Seattle sent back this eloquent reply:

How can we buy or sell the sky or the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of this earth is sacred to my people, every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. To harm the earth is to heap contempt upon its creator.

  • Other cultures and religions did not consider agriculture to be a violation of the earth, but – quite the contrary – a way to make the earth happy and fruitful.
  • The belief that agriculture is necessarily good, however, ultimately became self-defeating. The hillsides of Persia, like those of other uplands in the Near East and around the Mediterranean, were deforested and subjected to erosion, while the irrigated bottomlands, like those of Mesopotamia, suffered silting salinization.
  • As soil is the material substrate of life, water is literally its essence. Our interest in how soil and water function in the biosphere and in how they can be managed or mismanaged, derives as much from necessity as from innate scientific curiosity.
  • Superficial observers of history who ignore the role of environmental factors may ascribe the defeat of an empire to moral decay, cultural enfeeblement, lead poisoning, or lack of military preparedness – when actually the main contest had already been decided by the abuse and degradation of vital resources.

The failure to heed the lessons of the past is reflected in the Koran: “Do they not travel through the earth and see what was the end of those before them? They tilled the soil and populated it in great numbers. There came to them their apostles with clear signs, which they rejected, to their own destruction. It was not Allah who wronged them, but they wronged their own selves.”

Today there is clear and urgent reason for us to be concerned over the adequacy of land and water resources to satisfy the demands of our own profligate civilization. Our concern is not merely for the availability of these resources but for their quality as well. The encroachment of urban, industrial, transportation, and even recreational activities on the landscape, along with the application of “efficient” modern techniques of agriculture, construction, mining, and waste disposal, exert growing pressure on the limited resources of good land and water.

  • Among the many nations abusing their natural endowment, America is not the least offender. This country’s fundamental strength depends on its great soil and water resources, and their wasteful and destructive exploitation is surely sapping the nation’s innate strength and jeopardizing its future.

We can take no comfort at all in the fact that the problem is universal. Absurdly, nations fight wars over every inch of their political boundaries while mindlessly sacrificing whole regions to environmental degradation. Their patriots salute the flag and take up arms to defend their country against external enemies, while neglecting its environment and ignoring the real attacks being waged from within on the land they purport to love. Thousands of years are required for a soil to form in place, yet this amazingly intricate work of nature can be destroyed by man, with remarkable dispatch, in just a few decades. We must understand that, on the timescale of human life, the soil is a non-renewable resource. So is a mature forest, a river, a lake, or an aquifer. They belong not only to those who are the titled owners at this moment, but to future generations as well. In an even more profound sense, both soil and water belong to the biosphere, to the order of nature, and – as one species among many, as one generation among many to come – we have no right to destroy them.

Can a greater awareness of our environment and of our place in it help awaken us from our narcissistic indulgence, and foster a more appropriate sense of humility toward nature? And can this sense bring us any closer to our common physical, biological, and cultural moorings? Can it reconnect us spiritually with our humble origins, from which we have for so long been separated yet never completely severed?

  • Clearly something has gone wrong in our relation with nature, and it behooves us to ponder what it is and how it started.
  • Just as a mature person must learn to consider the circumstances and needs of others, so a mature society must restrain its exploitation of resources and consider both the rights of future generations and the needs of other species.

A glimpse of earth from space should be sufficient to restore the true perspective. It shows the planet whole, without political or tribal boundaries. How beautiful, how colorful, how delicate is this ball of lapping waters, floating continents, and swirling clouds gliding in a thin veil of air. And how small, unique, and solitary is this one and only home of ours. We must listen to its signals of distress, for it is our parent and we are all its dependent children.


Chapter 3: The fertile Substrate

Sunday, March 25, 2012 @ 08:03 AM
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A PLUME BOOK                2004


Back cover

From the author of the bestselling Family Virtues Guide comes a program

for restoring grace, sanity and vitality to our lives

In today’s anxiety-ridden, stress-infused world, even a moment of quiet reflection has become a time-consuming luxury most of us just can’t afford. How did we reach this point? How did we lose our direction and sense of control? And, most importantly, how can we reclaim our lives?

Linda Kavelin Popov asked herself these same questions after the pressures of her own workaholic lifestyle nearly destroyed her. Now, as cofounder of The Virtues Project International, she helps others achieve a pace of grace – a pace for our lives that can balance and sustain us physically and spiritually.

Through a four-part program, A Pace of Grace offers lessons to rediscover the essential elements of a life well lived. Complete with Linda’s ten rules for health, this comprehensive guide is the first step in rediscovering the joy and vibrancy inherent within each of us.

Front cover

A Pace of Grace contains vivid examples of how to make our daily lives meaningful. I offer my prayers that those readers who sincerely put them into practice will achieve that inner peace that is the key to lasting happiness.”

The Dalai Lama

About the author

Linda Kavelin Popov is the author of The Family Virtues Guide, and is one of the founders and directors of The Virtues Project International. She travels around the world in support of the project’s initiatives, speaking to communities, businesses, and governmental organizations. The United Nations Secretariat has honored the Virtues Project as a model for global reform for people of all cultures. She lives in the Gulf Islands near Victoria, British Columbia.

The Five Strategies of the Virtues Project

These strategies help us live more reverent, purposeful lives, raise morally conscious children, create a culture of character in our schools, and enhance integrity in the workplace. They are being used worldwide to build safe and caring communities.

v  Strategy 1: Speak the Language of Virtues

v  Strategy 2: Recognize Teachable Moments

v  Strategy 3: Set Clear Boundaries

v  Strategy 4: Honor the Spirit

v  Strategy 5: Offer Spiritual Companioning

“Great spiritual nuggets for a healthy spiritual pathway.”

Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., author of Love Is Letting Go of fear===



Affirmation of life is the spiritual act by which man ceases to live unreflectively and begins to devote himself to his life with reverence in order to raise it to its true value.

Albert Schweitzer

Until life caught up with me, I was a dedicated member of the Stress Generation. I didn’t mean to be. It just happened. A few weeks before September 11, 2001, I struck up a conversation with an East Indian cabdriver in Vancouver as he drove me from the airport to a downtown hotel where I would be speaking at a conference the next day. We chatted about how he felt, living so far from most of his family. He told me he longed to have them here but that his relatives had no wish to come to North America. When I asked about it, he said, “When I go home to India, it is pure peace, no worries. People still have bills, they still pay the bills, but they are not busy – overdone – as people are here.” Overdone. I blushed in recognition. What an apt description of the typical stress-filled North American lifestyle, I thought, and the perfect word to describe what had led to my own collapse several years before in 1997.

After a lifetime in the healing professions, I lapsed. I had no idea how far I had been swept into the swift current of stress until a life-threatening health crisis literally knocked me off my feet. Like so many others in this era of excess, the demands of my life had outgrown my capacity to sustain it. I had drifted from a gentle path of reflection, reverence, and service to a fast-paced life of constant international travel and an attempt to manage a growing global project, which had become an all-consuming passion. I felt like the goddess Kali, all of her arms busy juggling, but without her steady knowing gaze of serenity and grace.

It all began with a simple desire to be of service, yet there I was careening toward a vortex of exhaustion. I know full well I’m not alone. Too many of us are constantly overdoing because we have overextended our lives, our financial resources, and our personal energy supply. Most days, we don’t even stop to breathe. And now, watching the nightly news has become a health hazard. The turmoil in the world seems worse than ever, the economy is uncertain and unpredictable. The deepening world conflict set in motion after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11 has cast an unsettling shadow of anxiety and insecurity over an already overwhelming way of life. We are engulfed in an epidemic of stress in a culture of chaos.

I have always been privileged to pursue the work of my dreams – fulfilling a passionate prayer I uttered while circumambulating our backyard garden at age five: “God, please let me help people when I grow up.” I worked for decades in community mental health, consulted government leaders in the halls of Washington, companioned the dying at a hospice, conducted healing retreats with indigenous and inner-city communities, yet even the best of intentions didn’t protect me from burnout.

You see things and you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”

George Bernard Shaw

In 1990, my husband, Dan Popov, my brother John Kavelin, and I founded The Virtues Project. It began one April morning in 1998, over brunch at the stately, ivy-covered Empress Hotel overlooking the inner harbor in Victoria, British Columbia. John was enjoying the final day of his week of respite from his frantic career as a show producer for Walt Disney Imagineering in Los Angeles. He began to talk about wanting to be of more direct service to the world. The three of us experienced a crystalline, life-changing moment as we feasted on scones and salmon. We were discussing the state of the world – the rising tide of violence, the school shootings, the growing hole in the moral ozone – and one of us (I don’t recall who) said, “Someone should do something about it.” Suddenly we looked up from our plates, gazed deep into each other’s eyes, and in that moment the dream of serving together was born.

John moved up to Victoria, and we began working together. It occurred to us that violence was a symptom, and meaninglessness was the disease, therefore the cure would have something to do with the meaning of life. So we set off to find it. For years, Dan had studied the world’s sacred texts. He pointed us toward the six thousand years of spiritual guidance contained in the Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, and Moslem texts. He researched those and more. We were startled by the luminous simplicity of the answer that emerged.

Running through the great spiritual teachings of all cultures, like a silver thread of unity, are the virtues, described as the qualities of the Creator and the attributes of the human soul. Love, justice, courage, joy, and peace are the essence of who we are.

The virtues are God’s grace to us, a gift in our lives. What we do with them is our gift to God. They are both our spiritual legacy and our destiny. Many sacred traditions also describe the virtues as a very high order of angels, pure expressions of the Divine nature, higher than the archangels.

We found that virtues are at the heart of the value system of every culture on earth and are expressed in the oral traditions of the First Nations. They are a universal vocabulary of character, a context that enables people to integrate spirituality into everyday life, whatever their belief system. Several years after we initiated The Virtues Project, a First Nations shaman in northern Canada told me, “Linda, The Virtues Project is the bridge between the cultures.” On our second trip to the Solomon Islands, Dan and I were invited to meet with the prime minister. We were surprised to recognize him as a participant in a virtues workshop two years before. He told us that he had attained his position after receiving the Virtues Card of service in that workshop. “It set the course for my life,” he told us.

In 1990, in a converted garage beside the home we shared on a five-acre property, we self-published The Virtues Guide, a kind of handbook to help parents to morally and spiritually mentor their children. The book offered simple ways to awaken the virtues within ourselves and our children, describing fifty-two of the three-hundred-plus virtues we discovered in the world’s sacred texts. To say we published a book sounds a bit too lofty, given the fact that we were photocopying it onto three-hole paper and Saran wrapping it for shipment. Within two months of completing the guide, we received orders from more than twenty countries, where news of the book had spread by word of mouth alone. In 1997, to our amazement, the book caught the attention of all the major publishing houses in New York and was put up for auction. Penguin republished it as The Family Virtues Guide (this time with binding!), and Oprah Winfrey invited me to present it on an episode of her show in 1998, “Doing the Right Thing.” It has become a international best seller.

The Virtues Project has evolved into a grassroots movement in more than sixty-five countries. In 1994, the International Year of the Family, the United Nations Secretariat recognized it as a model global program for families of all cultures. Suffice it to say the project took over our lives; seven years after we started it, my life was completely out of control. I found myself sinking under the weight of an unsustainable lifestyle, and finally I crashed.

  • I experienced a profound shock when the fatigue of post-polio took over my life. The world had been my pasture. Now I could no longer drive, had difficulty walking some days, and often could only concentrate and hold my head up for a couple of hours a day.
  • Darkness greeted me on that winter morning when I opened my eyes. When I attempted to get out of bed, my legs went out from under me, and I plunged into a dark inner place of hopelessness and fear.

I struggled out to my prayer corner in the living room by holding on to furniture and leaning on walls. I literally fell to my knees, sobbing, and cried out, “Help me, God! I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to live like this.” I anticipated silence, expected no response. Suddenly, the familiar voice of Spirit spoke: “I will give you ten rules for health. Write them down and follow them.” The commanding power and clarity of this inner voice startled me, but I immediately pulled myself up to my prayer chair, grabbed my journal, and began to write. It felt like taking very rapid dictation.

When it was over, I read through the Ten Rules. They were simple, practical, and surprising – demanding a radical change in my lifelong habits of overdoing at the cost of self-neglect. The first rule was Purity and Cleanliness. It contained detailed instructions about purifying my diet – what foods to eat, the required amounts of water to drink, and the necessity of immersing my body in water each day. The meditation ended with the tenth rule: Plan a sustainable life. That morning, this phrase utterly mystified me. I had absolutely no idea what the word “sustainable” meant. I had a vague understanding of the words “sustain,” meaning to support life, “sustenance,” which means food, and “sustainable,” something that endures over time. Although the phrase baffled me, I did have an alarming sense that if I failed to follow the Ten Rules, I would probably not survive.

To be continued.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 @ 05:02 AM
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PENGUIN BOOKS              1991


Special Talent and Positions

Some people have a special talent or are in a special position and contribute much more. Some people are in a special position and contribute much more.

There are wealth creators. These are entrepreneurs who set up businesses or people who run businesses that have already been set up. They may be people who have inherited or bought land. Wealth creation is a valuable part of society for it provides both employment and food and goods to raise the standard of living. Wealth creation can also provide the exports which earn the money to buy goods from abroad.

  • How can the talents, energies and risk-taking of entrepreneurs be harnessed for the good of society?
  • A business has to survive in a competitive world and has to be profitable. Risk, enterprise, organization and hard work should be rewarded in relation to the contribution.
  • Leaders should be encouraged and given responsibility, provided they can show that they are constructive and can contribute. Leadership training should be part of education.
  • Survival is important. But the point of survival is contribution.

Contribution is much more than just playing by the rules. You may stick to the rules and laws and yet contribute very little.

Contribution is a basis of judgement. Instead of saying ‘Is he (or she) right or wrong?’, we might say: ‘What is his or her contribution?’. Instead of saying ‘Is he (or she) god or bad?’, we might say: ‘What is his (or her) contribution?’


There are people who only want to contribute to their own well-being – not even to their own self-improvement. These are the people who will cheat and exploit others. These are the people who will jump queues instead of waiting in line, and will find ways of beating the system. 

How should such people be treated?

Such people are often talented. The first step is to see if that talent can be used to play the new game: the constructive game. Such people often want an opportunity to use their enterprise, energy and ingenuity. Could this be used in a constructive way?

Information networks in any community quickly identify such people. This identification will be made easier by the naming process that is also part of the positive revolution (and which will be described later). Such a process will bring about the loss of respect for that person by the local community. All dealings with that person will be on this basis.

  • The key weapon against selfishness is perception.
  • A gradual change in perception of such people from heroes to social cockroaches is the most powerful way of changing behaviour.
  • Almost everyone needs the respect of other people at some level.



  • Without effectiveness there is nothing.
  • The greatest dreams in the world stay as dreams if there is no effectiveness.
  • Not everyone can be born beautiful or intelligent but everyone can become effective.
  • Effectiveness is a skill that we can build up for ourselves. We only need the will to do it.
  • There are very few really effective people.
  • Why is effectiveness so rare? We have to build it up until it becomes a habit. Otherwise our laziness and emotions destroy our effectiveness.
  • Effectiveness is setting out to do something and doing it.

Effectiveness needs three things:

Control: you are in control of your actions and you know what you are trying to do.

Confidence: like a skilled craftsman you are confident that you can do the task.

Discipline: to give patience, perseverance and concentration.

Like any skill, the skill of effectiveness has to be built up gradually through training and practice.

  • Any task can be divided into very small steps that are easy to take. Take one small step at a time and complete the task.

An author who writes just 1,000 words a day, every day, will have written five books in a year. Small things add up.

Whenever there is a any task to do and you do it, you should pause to say: ‘I have done that task and I have done it well.’

The Joy of Effectiveness

What is wonderful about effectiveness is that it becomes a joy and source of happiness. This is based on the following factors:

  1. As we get involved in something that thing becomes more interesting.
  2. As we develop the discipline of effectiveness then all tasks get much easier.
  3. There is joy in achievement.
  4. As we become more effective we become far more able to set up our own business or far more valuable to an employer.

The skill of effectiveness will be used to energize the positive revolution. The joy of effectiveness can become the hobby of achievement. This involves the companionship of working with others, the involvement of designing and planning a task, and the sense of accomplishment in telling others what has been achieved. All these things come together in the idea of the E-Clubs which are set up to provide a way in which ‘effectiveness’ and achievement can become a hobby. Setting up an E-Club is described in an appendix to this book.


  • Education teaches reading, writing, arithmetic and a lot of knowledge – the basic skills to survive in society and to contribute.
  • There is, however, a skill missing from traditional education. This is the skill of thinking. Thinking in the sense of effectiveness.
  • This is the thinking needed to get things done: objectives, priorities, alternatives, other people’s views, creativity, decisions, choices, planning, consequences of action.
  • We have literacy and numeracy but we need ‘operacy’ or the skill of doing.
  • Education must teach effectiveness.

Knowledge is not enough. Knowledge without effectiveness can be very dangerous. It can mean that the people with knowledge get into positions of power and do not know how to be effective.

The new education of the positive revolution must teach the thinking skills necessary for effectiveness, leadership and the skills of dealing with people.


Self-improvement is a day-by-day slow process and can take place in four directions: 1. Developing positive attitudes, habits and skills.

2. Reducing the domination of bad habits and attitudes such as laziness, selfishness, depression and intolerance.

3. Getting better at whatever it is (work, job, task) that you are doing.

4. Acquiring specific new skills.

Increasing the Positive

The first direction for self-improvement is the development and improvement of positive attitudes and habits.

Reducing the Negative

The second direction for improvement is reducing the domination of certain negatives. These are not all going to disappear at once – or ever – but a slight reduction is worth having.

Better at What You Are Doing

  • If you are doing a job, can it be done better? In the Toyota car factory in Japan there are 326 suggestions given by each employee every year, suggesting how the job can be done better.


New Skills

  • We should not be content with the skills we have.

Involvement and adventure keep the mind young and energetic. Who has drawn the line that says: ‘Beyond this point in your life you must not do anything new’?


  • Self-improvement means gaining control of our emotions. Human nature is frightened, insecure, greedy, aggressive, hungry for immediate reward and subject to group pressure.
  • Self-improvement is not going to change human nature but we can learn to ride wild horses by understanding their nature and gradually gaining control.
  • No one is going to be an instant saint every minute of the day. If you are a saint for only one minute a day and eventually you become a saint for two minutes a day that is improvement.

Self-improvement is a gradual process that accepts all manner of ups and downs. But it should start today. Not tomorrow because tomorrow never comes.


Respect and human values go together. We respect the humanity and human values of another person. We respect the individuality of another person. Both are important. It is not much use respecting human values in the abstract and having no respect for individuals. There is no better definition of civilization than respect for others. Those who insist that self-expression and freedom are more important than consideration for others are less than civilized.

A revolution that forgets about people is no revolution but a retrogression (a step backwards). A revolution that treats people badly in order to do them good is a contradiction. The purpose of any revolution is that the people should benefit – not only ultimately but even while the revolution is going on.

That is why respect is so central to the positive revolution.

Respect is much more practical than love.

Respect is treating each other person as a human being with the dignity of a human being.

Respect is treating others as you would wish to be treated yourself.

The Chinese people never had a strong religion. Instead, hundreds of years ago, a scholar called Confucius laid down the rules of how people should treat each other. In contrast to Western religions, Confucius was not interested in the souls of people. He was only interested in how people behaved towards each other in society. He claimed that if everyone behaved properly towards other people civilization would work.

In that one word ‘respect’ we seek to cover the whole aspect of behaving properly towards other people.

Respect works at three levels:

  1. Respect is the protection of the basic human rights of any individual.
  2. Respect for others is a fundamental principle of the positive revolution and reminds us that people are what matters most in the end.
  3. Respect is the way we indicate to people their value in society. Respect is a reward and acknowledgement of their contribution.


Human Dignity and Human Rights

Lack of respect is the most basic crime of all because it covers most other crimes. Murder and torture are the most extreme cases of lack of respect for the lives of others.

  • In the animal kingdom there is often a total lack of respect. One animal kills another because it is in their nature to kill.
  • Civilization is civilization because of the concept of respect for basic human rights.
  • There is an absolute right to be protected from murder and torture because these are not necessary.
  • Society can only provide health, education, housing and food as far as this is possible.
  • There is a great need for new ideas, creative and design thinking, in order to make the best use of limited resources.

It is possible to be poor and to retain human dignity and human rights. A very large part of the population of the world is poor. The way out of poverty is through the creation and distribution of wealth, through self-help, and through the positive and constructive attitudes of the positive revolution. History has shown that the exercise of rights does not itself create resources.



Sectors of society



  • This is a personal handbook for a positive revolution. The positive revolution has no enemies, no central organization, and no dogma. It is based on individuals people, their attitudes and their perceptions.
  • Everyone can become a member of the positive revolution. Each point reached is a goal that sets a new goal.
  • The five basic principles of the positive revolution are: Effectiveness; Being constructive and positive; Respect and human values; Self-improvement; Contribution.
  • The positive revolution uses perception rather than bullets and bombs.
  • The are four positive categories and four negative categories with a neutral category in the middle

Category one: leader and organizer. Not only contributes but makes it possible for others to contribute in a constructive and effective way.

Category two: A major individual contributor but without the multiplying effect of category one.

Category three: Hard-working, cooperative and helpful. Motivated and tries hard even though eventual contribution may not be major.

Category four: Positive, agreeable, pleasant and cheerful. Does a job well enough and is nice to have around. Not very effective or even motivated to be effective.

Category five: Neutral and passive. Content to drift from moment to moment. Fills in the time with pleasures and distractions.

Category six: Critical, negative and destructive. Such a person uses his or her intelligence to attack rather than to build. May mean well.

Category seven: Behaviour that is totally selfish. Such a person is not seeking to hurt others but is concerned solely with his or her own interests.

Category eight: The bully who uses his or her own power to get what is wanted from others. The deliberate exploitation of other people.

Category nine: The psychopath who has no respect whatever for the rights or existence of others. No morals and no conscience.

The power of the positive revolution will come from positive and constructive attitudes together with an emphasis on effectiveness. Power will also come from the exercise of perception to change values. The final power comes from an alignment of all these things in a growing number of people who feel that passivity and negativity are not the best ways of moving towards a better future.

The power is not just the power of a group of people but the personal power that arises from being positive and constructive.

Appendix: How to Run an E-CLUB (Effectiveness Club)

Thursday, February 23, 2012 @ 06:02 AM
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By Charles O. Holliday, Jr., Chairman & CEO, DuPont,

Stephen Schmidheiny, Chairman, Anova Holding AG,

Philip Watts, Chairman of the Committee of Managing

Directors of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies





Back cover


As anxiety about globalization, poverty and climate change grows, leading industrialists are arguing that not only is sustainable development good for business, but that solving social and environmental problems is essential for future growth.

In the most important book yet written on corporate responsibility – written not by outside critics, but by business people for business people – the authors draw on 67 original case studies from companies around the world. Through this important research, they clearly demonstrate that good corporate social and environmental performance is an investment that will improve the bottom line and the planet.

This official publication of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development explores, in depth, the three pillars of sustainable development – economic growth, ecological balance, and social progress. The authors argue that globalization of the marketplace is the best path toward sustainable human progress – but only if business, governments, and citizens’ groups can cooperate in creating a market that maximizes opportunity for all.

Walking the Talk provides a broad set of proven roadmaps to success, as well as real-life inspiration for business to embrace the challenge of building a global economy that works for all the world’s people.

Front cover

Stephen Schmidheiny, author of the hugely influential Changing Course, has joined with fellow prime movers in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development – Chad Holliday of DuPont and Philip Watts of Royal Dutch/Shell – to spell out the business case for addressing sustainable development as a key business strategy.

The authors insist that a global partnership – between governments, business, and civil society – is essential, if accelerating moves towards globalization are to maximize opportunities for all, especially the world’s poor. They argue that far more eco-efficient and socially equitable modes of development must be pursued in order to allow poorer nations to raise their standards of living.

To achieve these aims, the book explains that markets must be mobilized in favor of sustainability, leveraging the power of innovation and global markets for the benefit of everyone. Business cannot succeed in failing societies.

Whether small, medium or large, all businesses must innovate and change to meet the social and environmental challenges of the coming years. Walking the Talk provides proven strategies for doing just that, and real-world examples of business leaders who are becoming a leading force for change – improving both their own bottom lines and quality of life for future generations around the world.

Foreword by Björn Stigson, president, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

It was with a great deal of hesitancy that we entitled our book Walking the Talk.

We do not want to claim that our more than 160 member companies are already doing precisely what many of their mission statements say they are trying to do: run their companies in the best interests of human society and the natural environment, now and in the future.

However, as provocative as the title might sound, it is what the book is about. What will it take for our CEOs to put their companies on a sustainable path? What progress has been made in the decade since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio? Which companies are trying what? What works? What does not? Where do we need help from governments? Where do we need help from other stakeholders?

The book is about dilemmas faced by companies trying to walk their talk, and the opportunities and problems in doing so.

Walking the Talk offers a ‘Foundation’ chapter in which we discuss how the business case for sustainable development has grown and changed over the past ten years. We are now more convinced than ever that companies can do themselves good through doing right for society at large and the environment.

This Foundation is followed by ten chapters we call the building blocks of sustainable progress. Each of the chapter overviews comes from our publication The Business Case for Sustainable Development: Making a Difference toward the Johannesburg Summit 2002 and Beyond, which we published as a statement to inject some business vision into the planning for the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development.

The Council also partnered with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the UN Environment Program to publish Tomorrow’s Markets: Global Trends and their Implications for Business. This report documents 19 powerful trends that are shaping world-wide markets. It is meant to help companies spot opportunities and risks, and better understand their roles in sustainable development.

Walking the Talk itself sees the globalization of the marketplace as the best path toward sustainable human progress – but only if business, governments, and citizens’ groups can cooperate in creating a market that maximizes opportunity for all.

  • I would like to thank our three authors: Chad Holliday, Stephen Schmidheiny, and Philip Watts, and would like to thank the editorial team that backed them up.

Of great interest in this publication are the 67 case studies, which were researched specifically for the book. In addition, a great many of the insights and comments from business leaders and experts from around the world appear here in print for the first time. All quotations not directly attributed fall into this category. We feel this adds tremendously to the book’s value as a précis of current leading-edge thinking. Thanks are due also to those who have contributed in this way.


The business case for sustainable development



  1. The Market
  2. The Right Framework
  3. Eco-efficiency
  4. Corporate Social Responsibility
  5. Learning to Change
  6. From Dialogue to Partnerships
  7. Informing and Providing Consumer Choice
  8. Innovation
  9. Reflecting the Worth of the Earth
  10. Making Markets Work for All


WBCSD publications



Tuesday, February 14, 2012 @ 04:02 AM
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JOSSEY-BASS         2012



Chapter One: What Every CEO Wants

Every CEO wants sustained, profitable, organic growth. Even firms that grow mainly by acquisition – with its high failure rate – usually need to show that they can increase value through top-line growth of the combined business as well as through cost-cutting. Organic growth therefore lies at the heart of long-term shareholder value creation for almost all businesses.

We all know of companies like Procter & Gamble, Apple, Canon, IBM, Infosys, BestBuy, Oticon and Zara that seem to achieve this kind of profitable organic growth year after year. They go from strength to strength, from success to success. How do they do it?

Each has a different strategy and business model, but ultimately, they all succeed because they do a few obvious, fundamental things well, and they do them over and over again. Firms that achieve sustained, profitable organic growth have an open organization at their core. They exploit the critical advantages this brings to achieve four key imperatives:

v  Offer and communicate a clear, relevant customer promise.

v  Build customer trust and brand equity by reliably delivering that promise

v  Drive the market by continuously improving the promise, while still reliably delivering it

v  Get further ahead by occasionally innovating beyond the familiar

Although these ideas are familiar to everyone, putting them into practice is extremely difficult, which is why so few firms manage to deliver lasting organic growth. To hit the sweet spot, you need to get all of this right and in balance, as illustrated in the framework for this book (Figure 1.1).

Applying this framework requires firms to overcome a number of challenges. They must be more adept than their competitors at keeping in touch with customers’ needs – much easier to say than to do. They must overcome the tensions between the pressure for short-term profits (especially through cost-cutting) and the need to build long-term customer and shareholder value. They must tackle organizational arrogance, complacency, denial, boredom, and the tendency to get distracted by what’s new and exciting instead of what’s important. Worst of all – especially with today’s higher unemployment – they must reduce the corrosive, unacknowledged influence of fear, or at least deference, within the organization which prevents the open communication required to enable customer-focused improvement and innovation.

To introduce the issues, we first look at the twists and turns that have characterized the global market for mobile phone handsets since it came of age in the 1990s. There are many lessons to be drawn from the contrasting approaches and performance of Motorola and Nokia up to the launch of the Apple iPhone in 1997. Since then, the further lesson is how Nokia’s winning formula has, so far, fallen short in the new market conditions created by Apple and now Google. This case shows how achieving organic growth is a never-ending challenge. No-one knows which firm will enjoy most success over the coming years, but the winners will be those that successfully drive the market through relentless customer focus combined with innovation beyond the familiar.

Global Mobile Phone Handsets: How Nokia toppled Motorola only to lose its way

In April 1994, Fortune quoted a vice president of research at consulting firm AT Kearney as saying, ‘Motorola is the best-managed company in the world. Nobody else is even close’. Fortune described Motorola as a leader in innovation, total quality management (TQM), business process engineering, training, teamwork, and empowerment, and praised its ‘…candid internal debate that remains rare in corporate America’. In a shaky financial market, Motorola’s stock was trading at an all-time high, driven by record sales and profits.

Motorola’s flagship business was its market-leading cell phone division, with a global market share in 1994 of 45%, more than twice the 20% share of its closest competitor, Finland’s Nokia. But by 2000, all this had changed. Nokia was the clear market leader with a global share of 31%, while Motorola’s had collapsed to just 15%. Since then, Motorola’s problem-ridden handset business has suffered numerous losses, redundancies, new leaders, and strategy re-launches. There was a false dawn in 2004-6, driven by the success of the attractive RAZR phone, but by Q2 2010 Motorola’s market share had fallen to an all-time low of 2.8%, well behind Samsung’s 20.1%, LG’s 9%, and RIM and Sony Ericsson’s 3.4% each. Nokia, despite its poor performance in the high-growth smart phone segment, remained clear market leader with a 34.2% global market share.

How did a market leader described as the ‘best-managed company in the world’ stumble so badly, not just once, but again and again, while an obscure Finnish company left it for dust? While Nokia now faces serious challenges, which we’ll discuss, it achieved market leadership by being consistently better managed than Motorola for over 15 years.

Contrasting growth strategies

‘Offer and communicate a clear, relevant customer promise’

‘Build customer trust and brand equity by reliably delivering on that promise’

‘Drive the market by continuously improving on that promise, while still reliably delivering it’

‘Get further ahead by occasionally innovating beyond the familiar’

‘Put an open organization at the core’

After the iPhone: has Nokia lost it?

Three recurrent themes

In addition to the five elements of the framework, there are three other themes which recur throughout the book:

v  Brand equity and customer experience

v  Customer focus and insights

v  Continuous improvement versus ‘heroic’ breakthrough innovation

Brand equity and customer experience

Customer focus and insights

Continuous improvement versus ‘heroic’ breakthrough innovation

Conclusion: The structure of the book and five killer questions

The other main chapters cover the five elements in the framework one by one:

v  Your promise to the customer (Chapter 2)

v  Delivering today’s promise better and better every day (Chapter 3)

v  Driving the market by relentlessly improving the promise (Chapter 4)

v  Innovating beyond the familiar (Chapter 5)

v  Opening up: what leaders must do (Chapter 6)

To conclude this chapter, we offer five killer questions which every leader should ask. Each corresponds to one of the five elements in the framework and we’ll return to it as part of the relevant chapter. Of course, for each element, there are many other questions you could and should ask, but these five should help you see the potential for improvement, and where the biggest opportunities are likely to be:

Can your middle managers accurately describe your customer promise?

Can all members of your senior executive team name the three things that most undermine trust among your existing customers?

Is your brand really the best option for customers? Will it continue to be next month and next year?

Have you embraced any novel ideas that have produced significant innovations beyond the familiar during the past year?

Have front-line staff asked you any uncomfortable questions or suggested any important improvements to your offering during the last three months?

If you believe the answer to all five questions is yes, there are two possibilities. One is that you’re right, in which case the prospects for your company are brilliant and you don’t have much to learn from this book. Alternatively, you’re mistaken, in which case you’re also unlikely to learn much from the book unless you do something technically easy but emotionally difficult, which is to gather objective evidence on each question.

For instance, you may think that your middle managers can accurately describe your customer promise (and they probably think so too) but have you asked them? Are their answers concise, consistent, convincing, and correct? If so, bravo! – your organization is in the small, excellent minority on this dimension. If, more likely, the honest answer is no, you’ve already identified an area for improvement. The same applies for all five elements of the framework.

We now turn to the first of these, how to offer and communicate a clear, relevant customer promise.

Monday, February 13, 2012 @ 12:02 AM
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ZED BOOKS             1997



Introduction by Majid Rahnema (cont.)

Part Four starts with a forceful demonstration by Susan George of the ways ‘the poor are developing the rich’, thanks to development practices. Eduardo Galeano follows by telling us the sad story of those who are programmed to die of hunger ‘on the altar of productivity’, ‘during the last chapter of the televised serial of history’. At the end of a poignant testimony on what Latin America has gone through in order to ‘be like them’, he asks himself whether the Goddess of Productivity ‘is worth our lives’.

Other concrete examples of development practices are then given from the perspective of the grassroots populations. James Ferguson addresses the case of development in Lesotho, which, in his view, constitutes an ‘almost unremitting failure’. The tragic effects of the transmigration project in Indonesia are then discussed by Graham Hancock. Pam Simmons then shows how recent efforts, particularly by the aid agencies, to integrate women into mainstream development theory and practice constitute a serious threat to much of what the women’s struggle for freedom and dignity has stood for, especially in the South. This is followed by Peter Bunyard’s testimony on the ‘other side of the story’ in the case of the Tehri dam in the Himalaya region, and how ‘the misguided obsession with prestigious projects, such as large dams, is missing the point that denuded lands urgently need rehabilitation.’

To bring a note of almost black humour into the picture, Leonard Frank gives us, finally, an inside story of how development projects are generally prepared. Consultants familiar with the type of mission he describes would have no difficulty in agreeing in private that Leonard Frank’s account is not an unusual one.

The last section of the Reader, Part Five, is intended to give an idea of the arts of resistance that ‘losers’ all over the world continue to refine in order to build for themselves different and more humane futures. They are designed to show wayfarers that the most promising roads are, to paraphrase Machado, the ones that they discover by themselves as they move ahead. Thee is no point in taking old roads which lead to undesirable destinations. In such a context, it becomes imperative for all wayfarers to learn, from their own traditions and from each other, the arts of resistance most adequate to the conditions of their journey. It is also important for them not to fall into ideological traps, the false promises of which often prevent their followers from seeing things around them as they are, and to learn from their own experiences.

To this end, this last part of the anthology starts with some inspiring thoughts on the ways different cultures have learned to resist domination. These theoretical reflections are then followed by some examples illustrating the various types of resistance.

Gustavo Esteva and Madhu Suri Prakash open up the discussion by dissecting the fashionable slogan ‘Think globally, act locally’. They find it misleading to the extent that it does not prevent the harmful effects of ‘thinking big’. Grassroots populations engaged in movements such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) do not deny the reality of the internationalization of economy. But they seek to oppose globalism with radical pluralism. The Zapatista movement in Chiapas reflects people’s choice ‘to live, to think as well as to act on the human scale’. And that does not prevent them from circulating their news through three different e-mail networks.

For Wolfgang Sachs, after forty years of development, the world has indeed developed, but in two opposite directions. The 8% of the world population who own a car now composed a global middle class that is socially excluding the remaining majority. The demise of development has brought about a crisis of justice and a crisis of nature, in an inverse relationship to each other. Three perspectives are proposed to address the double crisis: the ‘fortress perspective’, the ‘astronaut’s perspective’ and the ‘home perspective’.

The Chiapas rebellion was a historic signal to the extent that it represented this last perspective, as the report by Gustavo Esteva shows. Like the Narmada Valley movement, it signifies that the conventional development idea has to be abandoned in the name of justice. Similarly, the ‘efficiency revolution’ should be complemented by a ‘sufficiency revolution’: that is, a mix of ‘intelligent rationalization of means and prudent moderation of ends’. Such a revolution cannot, however, be programmed or engineered. For in the home perspective, the discourse amounts to an invitation, rather than a strategy.

Mahatma Gandhi’s citations remind the reader that the quest for simplicity, advocated by the previous authors, actually belongs to a deep-rooted tradition of vernacular societies. David Shi goes on to indicate how simple living has had similar roots in the history of the west, from the early Greeks to modern Americans.’ Like the family, simplicity is always said to be declining but never disappears.

The question remains as to how the victims of unjust and dehumanizing regimes go about exercising their power – that is, ‘act over other’s actions’ – as Foucault has defined power. For James Scott, whose book Domination and the Arts of Resistance is a landmark in the understanding of this subject, it is crucial to decipher the ‘hidden transcript’ of the subordinate groups’s resistance. This is enacted in a host of down-to-earth, low-profile stratagems designed to minimize appropriation. This form of resistance continually presses ‘against the limit of what is permitted on stage, much as a body of water might press against a dam.’

Focusing on the grassroots movements in India, D.L. Sheth submits that these movements have now turned their backs on ‘received’ theories of any kind. What appeals to them is ‘concrete and specific struggles’ aimed at their own empowerment and at ‘redefining economic demands in terms of political and cultural rights.’

The ‘power of the powerless’, particularly under a post-totalitarian system (a term he uses to describe the political regimes of East Europe in the late 1970s) is then forcefully explored in Václav Havel’s contribution. Taking up the case of a greengrocer who places in his window, among onions and carrots, the slogan ‘Workers of the World Unite!’, the president of the Czech Republic imagines the day when the same greengrocer stops putting up the slogan and refuses to submit himself to the ‘blind automatism which drives the system’. This revolt is for him a crucial decision to live within the truth. For this is tantamount to breaking ‘the exalted façade of the system’ and saying the emperor is naked! No wonder that such simple gestures are actually perceived as a fundamental threat to systems whose main pillar is living a lie.

At the end of his essay, Havel’s message, based on his own personal experience, reveals a fact common to many great social changes and takes a prophetic dimension: ‘The moment a single person breaks the rules of the game, thus exposing it as a game – everything suddenly appears in another light and the whole crust seems then to be made of a tissue on the point of tearing and disintegrating uncontrollably.’

The essay by Karen Lehman reminds us how such novel approaches to the emergence of a world of friendship and gift make it imperative for everyone to focus on fundamental issues, such as the relationship between the ‘space within’ and the structure around it’. The space within, she notices, is shrinking with the economization of life, as it places a market value on such gifts as childbearing and housekeeping. The post-development era would not be different from the present one if the space within was still forced to fit the economy. A new kind of relation should be imagined in order to create a relation between the two ‘that supports both and damages neither.’

Could such a relation lead to what Judith Snow, another contributor concerned with friendship and the preservation of the unique gift incarnated by everyone, calls the ‘inclusion society’? For her, one creates the possibility of meaningful interaction by offering one’s gift to the community. And the millions who are now trying to regenerate the old ideal of a community under modern conditions do it mainly by creating and broadening such possibilities.

And that is perhaps why they continue singing. We sing, Mario Benedetti tells us.

because the sun recognizes us

and the fields smell of spring

and because in this stem and that fruit

every question has its answer.

Depending on the oppressive regimes to which the subjugated belong – be they developmentalist, totalitarian, ‘post-totalitarian’ or fundamentalist – people indeed have their different ways of preparing for the day when they all together cry out ‘the emperor is naked!’ It remains true, however, that the ends are always affected by the means. That perhaps explains the reason why Gandhiji refused, as early as the 1930s, to invite his fellow companions to ‘seize’ power, or to chooses violence for reaching their ends. Thus did Sunderlal Bahuguna in India, Vaclav Hável in former Czechoslavakia, Subcomandante Marcos and Superbarrio in Mexico, or the Chodak team in Dakar who later learned, from their own experiences, that it was more important to modify the nature of political power than to seize a power that ultimately corrupts all its holders. ‘Reinventing the Present’, the essay presented by Emmanuel N’Dione and his Chodak team, is a fascinating report on how a relationship of friendly complicity between insiders and outsiders can lead to increasing refinement in the arts of helping each other.

Now a final word about the ‘boxes’ that appear throughout this anthology. They have been chosen to represent some of the most interesting thinkers of all cultures, whose insights and words of wisdom illuminate the questions raised in the Reader. We view these as messages from absent friends or teachers who were either too far away or too busy to spend more time around the bigger table where the main conversation was being held. And we welcome their ‘messages’ as their gifts to us; they add new dimensions to the ongoing dialogue. References to their works have, however, been given in each case so that the more inquiring students can meet their authors at their convenience. We recommend strongly that readers use the boxes of their choice as signposts for the particular roads they are inclined to explore.

I take it as a good omen that the last box contains Fe Remotigue’s moving poem on the power of resurrection, that which from the Christ to the smallest, most forgotten ‘architects of dream’ – like Garitoy – gives life its fullest meaning. ‘One body down, one spirit up…’

Monday, February 13, 2012 @ 12:02 AM
posted by admin




GOWER        2011

The Green Economics and Sustainable Growth Series


Chapter 3: Executive Brief No. 2: Climate Change (Cont)

The role of Government, Business and people


Why is it important that business takes an active part in addressing Climate Change? There are three key reasons: Contribution; Innovation and finance; Cost savings and efficiency….



There are a range of options which can be used to address the challenge of Climate Change for business. These opportunities for moving towards non-carbon-based energy supplies can be best summarised using what can be called the ‘ARROW’ strategies. However, before these strategies are deployed, it is essential to review the current status of the business with a Carbon Footprint Audit. This identifies strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats in relation to Climate Change and related issues for each business. From this the priorities for attention can be identified and the following approaches implemented using the ARROW framework: Avoid; Reduce; Replace; Offset, Watch and adjust….

A greener world using information and communications technology (ICT)



In the UK household usage contributes to an estimated 30% of national energy consumption. It is therefore important to look at the strategies that people, particularly in the top 20 countries, can use to reduce their personal carbon footprints. The table below outlines average UK household usage: …


A quick review of the following table shows that a major difference can be made by focusing on the key areas which can make the most impact – electricity supplies, air travel and car transportation. Addressing these three key areas could contribute to a target reduction of over 50% over the next 10 years in a typical UK household. If every household in the UK undertook this challenge, the impact on greenhouse gas emissions in the UK could be quite significant. So let’s look at some ways this could be achieved: Renewable energy supplier; Reduce or offset air travel; Reduce car emissions ….

These three strategies alone, some of which can be implemented immediately, and some of which can be phased in over time, would bring the total effective emissions reduction to over 50% by 2020 per household – well above the EU target of 20% in a similar period.

Further reductions

Solar-powered clothes drying

Greenhouse reabsorption

Climatexhange – an Oxfordshire partnership


Chapter 4: Executive Brief No. 3: Energy Supplies

Chapter 5: Executive Brief No. 4: Water and Food Supplies

Chapter 6: Executive Brief No. 5: Planet Sustainability and Biodiversity

Chapter 7: Executive Brief No. 6: Extreme Poverty

Chapter 8: Executive Brief No. 7: Global Health

Chapter 9: Executive Brief No. 8: Universal Education

Chapter 10: Executive Brief No. 9: Conflict and Peace

Chapter 11: Executive Brief No. 10: Financing a Sustainable World

Chapter 12: Executive Brief No. 11: The Challenge of Interconnectivity – The Perfect Storm or the Perfect Opportunity?







Chapter 25: Delivering Our Plan for the Planet


The global economic downturn has exposed the extent to which markets and societies are increasingly interconnected and interdependent. We the participants of the B4E (Business for the Environment), recognise that the economic, environmental and social challenges and risks we face demand a new level of leadership and cooperation.

We are confident that by exercising such leadership, restoring trust and by working together we have the opportunity to put our global economy, our markets and lifestyles and security, and, ultimately our planet on a sustainable path.

The Green Imperative, B4E Summit, Paris (2009)

The financial crisis and economic downturn have dominated the thoughts and action of leaders of all international and national governments and businesses.

At first sight this is negative news for the focus and investment in dealing urgently with the global challenges.

Global setbacks … and future opportunities in the age of green economics.

Governments facing pressures to maintain the living standards of citizens and aware of the political risks of increasing taxes may well delay or reduce their promised payments to help those in poverty. Businesses fighting for their survival may reduce their commitments to greenhouse emissions and downgrade their efforts in corporate social responsibility.

Our view is that governments will temporarily fail to fully honour their pledges at a time when crucial decisions which influence the survival of life on this planet in the long term have to be made now. When the immediate panic and crises reduce, as they will, the realisation that these challenges are not an optional extra but are of fundamental importance will return.

For example, there is no escaping the enormous economic challenge of transforming the world’s energy source to zero carbon systems and reducing gashouse emissions. The Obama administration is dedicating over $150 billion in green infrastructure investments over the next ten years. Short-term problems can not disguise the huge future opportunities. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, puts this in historic perspective: ‘We have experienced great economic transformations throughout history: the industrial revolution, the technology revolution, and the era of globalisation. We are now on the threshold of another – the age of green economics.’

The challenge of the world’s poor

World Bank President, Robert Zoellick, insists that global finance leaders ‘must look beyond the financial rescue to the human rescue… poor countries are already facing a triple hit as the financial challenges continue to spread and many are at a tipping point … the poorest can not be asked to pay the biggest price.’

In 2009, the emergency arising from the financial crisis could force an additional 55 million people in the developing world into poverty – on less than $1.25 a day. The number of chronically hungry is expected to climb to over a billion, reversing the recent gains in fighting malnutrition. Net private capital flows to developing countries are already in sharp decline. Remittances are down about 8%.

Therefore it is imperative for wealthy nations to respond decisively to this crisis, as well as dealing with their own issues.

Business commitment to sustainability

The good news is that progressive businesses will not reduce their commitment to sustainability. They understand that failure to respond to the challenges which surround sustainability will injure their long-term profitability. Moreover, they see increasing opportunities as the unstoppable move to the green revolution creates the need for new products and services and forces a rethink of present practices. These often produce savings and increased efficiencies. Corporate social responsibility and all it stands for is now deeply embedded into the core strategies of many successful businesses.

The driving force for continued investment and commitments may be more economic than moral: but it will be there.

In good times and bad times the sustainability issue has to be well managed. As George Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact puts it, ‘Restoring confidence and trust in markets will require a shift to long-term sustainability. And corporate responsibility must be an instrument towards this end.’ This comment increasingly reflects mainstream business thinking.

‘Sustainability will remain critical to our business even during an economic downturn,’ says Ian Cheshire, Group Chief Executive at Kingfisher. ‘As a major international retailer we have a responsibility to tackle issues such as Climate Change and work towards a more sustainable future.’

Jan Babiak, Global Climate Change and Sustainability Leader at Ernst and Young says that companies should realise that there are substantial savings to be made from cutting down on the wasteful use of energy and economising with other materials.

Francis Sullivan, Deputy Head of Corporate Sustainability at HSBC says, ‘Managing risk and promoting business opportunity is critical and, in the context of sustainability issues, is as important today as it was before the current challenges in the financial markets surfaced.’

Charities and NGOs

What of the millions of individuals who regularly and generously contribute to the work of charities and other organizations and who are researching and working in a vast range of areas related to sustainability? As personal incomes are reduced by the impact of recession there is already some fallout in spite of the fact that donations are a small proportion of personal income. This funding problem coincides with a greater demand for help from the charities. Their response must be to improve their management effectiveness and focus their reduced capability on the key issues which give maximum leverage and benefit.

The opportunity

A potential criticism of a Plan for the Planet is that it is to idealistic. To have any hope of being achieved it requires a massive, global, coordinated and shared strategy and action plan. Although it is urgent and failure to act will damage the lives of everyone on earth, such a concept and approach is a great idea but is it ‘an impossible dream’?

The global response to the worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression has demonstrated what is possible when world leaders acknowledge a common threat. What has resulted has been unprecedented national and international coordination, transparent information and rapid responses to the urgency.

This is encouraging proof that when a global threat is understood and acknowledged by the world’s government, business and community leaders, urgent and constructive actions can be quickly put in place and globally coordinated.

The short and long-term threats of the combined ten global challenges are clearly greater than the financial crisis alone.

We have the opportunity to work urgently together to continue to develop and implement this Plan for the Planet to build a sustainable world for this generation, and all of those to come.