alternatives to empire

i work amongst amazing people, doing wonderful things. One of them is Andrew Gillett, who sits just behind me and beavers away on a project called Alternatives to Empire. This inter-faith project is a growing collaboration between organisations in Malaysia and Australia – Pax Christi, JUST and the Uniting Church Commission for Mission. Andrew’s been developing the website which is a growing collection of articles, opinions, and space for comment and reflection. From the statement of purpose:

We suggest that we are living through a unique moment in history. We believe it is now possible to conceive of alternatives to the imperial project which embody a new way of seeing and living in the world. This requires analytical insight, ethical boldness and strategic preparation. Above all, it calls for an approach that is rooted in a spirituality that can give meaning and purpose to the human journey.

By cultivating such spirituality we hope to lay the moral and intellectual foundations we need to construct a world that is not based on imperial or hegemonic power.

More than ever before the human journey needs to be informed and inspired by spiritual and moral values that are universal in scope and inspiration, values that are premised on the fundamental questions of human existence: Who are we? What is our purpose on this earth? How should we live? How should we address the challenges that face humanity at this critical moment of its history?

When such questions and the transcendental worldview that lies behind them firmly shape our collective consciousness, we can begin to imagine the emergence of new world order. Only then can we approach with confidence the task of building political, economic and cultural institutions and policies that break with the legitimization of greed, the perpetuation of hegemony and the sanctification of violence.

It is our earnest hope and conviction that at this time we can by our collective efforts build a cosmopolitan framework which will nurture a universal yet culturally and religiously diverse civilization. We visualise a world that combines a profound sense of human solidarity with an abiding attachment to community, respect for individual and collective rights with acceptance of individual and collective responsibilities, a world that upholds the dignity of the human person, social and economic justice, compassion, the sacredness and unity of all life, responsible stewardship of the earth’s ecosystems, sustainability in social and economic organisation, and a deep sense of our collective responsibility to future generations and the survival of the human species

We are living through one of those rare moments in history when women and men from different faiths and philosophies who are bound together by a shared spiritual-moral vision are pointing in this direction. Together we are striving to create a world that is simultaneously one and many, a world that takes pride in the achievements of science and intellect but seeks to place these at the service of all human beings and communities, irrespective of gender, nation, ethnicity, creed or social and economic status.

What we envisage is an inter-civilisational process that involves dialogue, advocacy and action, and brings together not only those of religious faith but also secular humanists, Confucians and others who are not formally affiliated to any faith community but are deeply conscious of humanity’s higher destiny. Their insights and experiences will be crucial in crystallising new ways of seeing and living in the world.

The dialogue will help to expose the flaws of the imperial project and release new energies, resources and skills. It will pave the way for more appropriate forms of organising human affairs, while recognising and celebrating all that is valuable in our respective traditions and cultures. We envisage reformed national, regional and global institutions that more faithfully reflect the multipolarity of the world and nurture new forms of active citizenship.

To this end, the Alternatives to Empire Project proposes the establishment of focus groups in as many countries as possible. Out of these groups and discussions, we expect proposals and plans to emerge for the staging of national and international workshops, lecture tours, and conferences as well as the publication of books, journals and opinion pieces, and one or two strategically selected international projects.

One of the first tasks of the project will be the establishment of an interactive website that disseminates information, analysis and proposals about the Empire, what might usefully replace it, and how this goal might be approached in the practical contexts of everyday life. In due course, we see the project producing ideas for a range of initiatives in the fields of education, journalism and public advocacy.