Realizing transformational change
Realizing transformational change
This story of the Pearl family connects with something that I have been thinking about for some time — the power and potential of love as a lever for social change.
The other night I stumbled on a documentary on TV about Daniel Pearl, the reporter who was gruesomely murdered in Pakistan in 2002. I was immediately pulled into the incredible account of the people who were touched by that horrific event. In one interview, Pearl's wife Mariane, who was pregnant with the couple's first child when Daniel was killed, explained that her act of resistance since the loss of her husband has been to refuse to be bitter. Pearl's parents started a foundation for understanding among religions in response to their son's slaughter. And, as relayed by his killers, Daniel himself faced his death reciting a Buddhist mantra even as he received the fatal blow. Watching this program, I was absolutely spellbound and profoundly moved by who Daniel Pearl was as a person and by who his wife and parents are as people. The power of their courage and their love is a triumph over an unspeakable atrocity.
This story of the Pearl family connects with something I have been thinking about for some time — the power and potential of love as a lever for social change. At a recent IISC staff meeting, we engaged in a critical reading of a talk given by Michael Edwards, Director of the Ford Foundation's Governance and Civil Society Program, at a conference entitled Works of Love: Scientific and Religious Perspectives on Altruism. In his speech "The Love That Does Justice," Edwards, a trained social scientist, claimed that "the future of the world depends on how successful we are in developing and applying a new social science of love."
Edwards refers to the conference's working definition of love as "affectively affirming as well as unselfishly delighting in the well being of others, and engaging in acts and care of service on their behalf, without exception, in an enduring and constant way." From his perspective, the absence of this critical element and orientation in work for peace and social justice often results in the failure to build the necessary alliances and collective wisdom that could lead to significant and sustainable social change.
We at the Institute have reached the same conclusion. Love is the key that unlocks the door leading to an awareness of our shared being, an awareness that enables such improbable acts of forgiveness as those demonstrated by the Pearl family. We believe that our collective failure to enact large scale and high impact social change stems in large part from our inability to experience ourselves as connected rather than separate from and different than others. Love, as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, is the "supreme unifying principle of life." The opportunity before us now is to be as bold as possible, to look for ways of articulating this awareness and bringing it more fully and intentionally into our work, challenging ourselves and others to consider love's potential as a lever for transformational change.
All of us at IISC are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the bold and important work of change agents around the region, country, and world. And we are always delighted to hear from you with your comments, reflections, and the lessons of your experiences.
Published on 03/07/07 05:29 PM