In from the cold: love, compassion and governance explored in Iceland

In Brief: 
  • A “Spirit of Humanity” forum in Iceland drew more than 230 current and former UN officials, civil society representatives, and business and religious leaders in April 2014.
  • They explored the role of human values and spirituality in relation to decision-making at community, national and international levels.

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — The words “love” and “compassion” are rarely juxtaposed with terms like “governance” and “leadership.”

And, yet, shouldn’t they be?

That was essentially the main theme of the Spirit of Humanity Forum, a rather bold and brave conference held 10-12 April 2014.

The Forum sought to explore the role of higher human values and spirituality in empowering effective decision-making at personal, community, national and international levels.

Participants — numbering more than 230 from some 40 countries — encompassed a wide range of current and former United Nations officials, representative from non-governmental organizations and civil society, along with prominent leaders in business, education, and government.

Among the organizing partners was the City of Reykjavik, and participants in the Forum included Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson, the president of Iceland; Ruud Lubbers, the former prime minister of the Netherlands; and Kul Chandra Gautam, former deputy executive director of UNICEF.

The Bahá’í International Community was represented by Daniel Perell, a representative to the UN.

“It is undeniable that both love and compassion are required for good governance, and so this event was really an important and significant effort to study that relationship,” said Mr. Perell.

“It was a gathering of individuals who are directly involved in various forms of governance — and who are also trying to see the practical benefits and results that come from expressing love and compassion.

“Put another way, it reflected part of what can be seen as a global movement towards more values-based governance, and as Bahá’ís this is something that we are very much concerned with and involved in,” said Mr. Perell.

For more, go to the Spirit of Humanity Forum website, at: