Back in October, I made the choice to go to an evening discussion/dinner put on by ‘Leaders, Life & Purpose’, a forum for business people sponsored by the American Church in Paris (ACP), St George’s Anglican Church in Paris and the McDonald Agape Foundation. The purpose is to outreach to Christian business leaders and professionals and to provide an environment to hear inspirational talks and stimulate conversation, exchanging ideas on the deeper spiritual issues of purpose, work and life. Sounds good, eh?
I’ve been trying to find something more spiritual to do in Paris, but everything the ACP offers is either (1) Thursday nights when I have bell choir – such as their new series on God and Darwin, Bible studies, etc. ; or (2) all the great programs are for the Young Adults Group (ages 18-30) – weekly meetings, movie nights, volunteering, lectures, etc. Once you’re 30, they assume you’re married and then the ACP has a slew of activities aimed at that demographic.
Anyway, I went to the LLP forum on Friday 9 October (a rainy Friday, which I would’ve preferred spending at home, in my PJs, watching a movie). The topic was ‘The Economics of Mutuality’, presented by Dr. David Young, Founder and CEO of Oxford Analytica, which provides business and government leaders with timely and authoritative analysis of world events. (Although, I’ve never heard of them before). Dr. Young served on the National Security Council Staff during the Nixon administration and as Special Assistant to Dr. Kissinger in the White House from 1969-73. Sounds good, eh?
So, I paid my 55€ for an evening of cocktails, lecture, dinner and moderated discussion.
I want my money back, and here’s why :
-- Dr. Young was a good speaker, but in no way memorable. I do not remember his voice, his looks, his message. The only reason I do have comments is because I took notes during his lecture.
--His lecture had NO talk of faith, nor purpose. There was no overarching theme. It was all touchy-feely and didn’t seem applicable to every day life. It was more super macro focused, rather than micro. It’s things like this make me want to go read Ayn Rand and 48 Laws of Power
--Side note : why are people are so impressed with themselves when they ask questions to a speaker? àshows just how self-centered they are
--The lecture was to be about 30 minutes, and it had 2 parts, the second of which had eight (8!) points.
First point in lecture : Are we at a Wilberforce moment? (a turn in the road that can make a difference). Wilberforce is from British history (1759-1833). He did much work for the campaign against slavery, as well as lobbying for better manners. So what, he gets extra points for using Wilberforce, instead of just saying Tipping Point?
Second point : 8 Propositions for Sustainable Market Capitalism. The idea that ‘you first have to have justice to have a lasting peace’. And that things must be sustainable : environmentally (LT goal) ; socially ; and, economically (ST goal).
1) Is the system broken?
a. Yes. It is unsustainable on 3 fronts : economic, social, environment
2) Do we have a correct assessment of human nature?
a. Marx had correct view of capitalism, but incorrect view on human nature
3) Can man be trusted? Is man good?
a. Founding Fathers said no, so they created checks and balances
4) How critical is freedom?
a. At enterprise level? Social? Do the two have to be same? If different, how to reconcile? Or do we need better governance?
5) Do we have a holistic approach?
a. Necessary for balanced government
6) We have to move from thinking of value to thinking of values.
a. Values of the system
b. Bill of Rights ; freedom
c. Order ; rule of law
d. Justice ; fairness ; equity
i. Needs of the poor (mercy, concern, compassion,)
ii. Civil society
7) 3 dimensions within sustainable market capitalism
a. Hard : financial performance
b. Soft : environment we have ; creation of things
c. Mid (spiritual) : human-to-human ; common good ; culture ; society
8) How do we build sustainable market capitalism?
Seriously, those are my notes. He did not really expand upon the ideas any further. He did not really tie in faith, purpose. He did not address how we as business people, in varying levels of authority, could help enact change.
Dinner was set up with tables of 8-10, with each having a pre-arranged moderator. To my knowledge, the role of a moderator is to lead discussion, keep it on subject, get everyone involved, bring up points from the lecture, etc. Of course, such a person should have some opinions, have a voice that can carry across the table, and exude some sort of confidence. Wouldn’t you figure I pick a table that has to have one of the worst moderators! He barely talked, when he did you could barely hear him, and he never really brought up subjects from the lecture. The rest of the people at the table were also soft talkers, and generally without opinions.
The only points I took away for further thought, and these were NOT from the meat / key points of Dr. Young’s speech, but rather were side notes.
--We ‘long for lives that count’ ; which made me think – what makes my life count?
--What purpose has my God laid upon me?
--What are the ‘common assumptions that will guide your team over the coming years’?
--NYC has a group ‘Socrates in the City’
--by 2010, 90M more in extreme poverty ; and 59M more lose their jobs in 2009
--In the US, from
1776-1781 : we won our freedom
1781-1789 : we ordered our freedom
1789-2009 : we maintained our freedom
It was a painful evening all round. But at least I tried, right?