What happens when King Abdullah II of Jordan invites 30 Nobel Laureates to gather in the ancient jewel of Petra, and “imagine practical approaches to sustainable growth, development, and prosperity, the real foundations of peace”? Originally posted by Bruce McConnell on governmentfutures.com in 2008.
Led by Peace Prize winners Elie Wiesel and The Dalai Lama, and joined by 200 business, government, and NGO leaders, and 50 youth from the Mid-East and the U.S., the Fourth Petra Conference of Nobel Laureates considered the impact of globalization on income distribution in poor countries, the exploding hunger crisis, energy scenarios, security, and human conflict — and the hope of science, the responsibility of the media, and the role of the arts in addressing them.
The results of the relationship building, shared awareness, idea generation, and deepened mutual understanding among this eclectic assemblage are unknowable in general. For us, however, three are salient:
- Strengthened commitment to bringing heart to the professional world. In the words of The Dalai Lama, warm-heartedness can be a great contributor to peace. As Elie Wiesel counseled in closing the gathering, “Think higher and feel deeper.”
- Profound appreciation of the cycles of history. Deep in the desert we saw three adjacent inscriptions in the stone, from pre-history, 700 BC, and 700 AD, carved by the predecessors of our Bedouin driver.
- Deepened understanding of the need for peace in this cradle of civilization. Jordan is holding a space for peace, coping with a flood of Iraqi refugees and on the edge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a sad undercurrent in too many conversations. Despite America’s recent missteps in the region, we are still looked to for leadership towards peace. We can fulfill this role only if we are willing talk (and listen) to everyone.
We’ll reflect these themes in future work. Meanwhile, please watch our video (3 minutes) for a more textured treatment of this amazing experience.