Response from Akio Matsumura

Dear Chris,
I would like to respond to your article titled “Changing Ethics in Business.”
I think this is a wonderful and timely article that provides a moral appeal to the current business leaders, and speaks to basic human principles.
Twelve U.S. Senators and sixteen U.S. Congressmen including Senator Al Gore, Senator Clairborne Pell, Congressman Hamilton, among many others, attended the Parliamentary Earth Summit Conference at Rio de Janeiro in 1992, co-sponsored by the Brazilian Congress. The photograph of the children from Rio’s favelas speaking from the balcony at Parliament asks us what we have accomplished of our resolutions since then. Let us reflect on what we discussed at that historic event in regard to tackling the global environmental issues we would face in the 21st century. Senator Al Gore, one of the leading environmental legislators in the US Congress at the time and a member of the Global Forum Executive Committee, gave the keynote address and set the tone with a spiritual appeal unusual for a politician. He inquired, “People all over the world feel themselves part of a single global family. Why then are spiritual leaders not joining parliamentarians in this dialog?” Mr. Stephan Schmidheiny, Chairman of the Business Council for Sustainable Development said that the true sustainable development ultimately comes down to ethical, moral and spiritual considerations—we must all become care-takers, working to safeguard the interests of future humans and the interests of the other species with which we share the planet.
These fundamental appeals remind us that we still must tackle these pressing issues of human survival in the 21st century.
Recently, since the world has been facing this extreme financial crisis, people have lost confidence in the financial market system. This trust is as important for the success of the worldwide financial system as oxygen is for people to survive. Similarly, confidence and trust between people is the key to world peace, but most do not realize and appreciate its strength until there is a shortage or it disappears. In order to make a system work people need to believe in it, and if the financial system can’t garner our trust, then world peace still seems several strides away.
The article “Changing Ethics in Business” voices the growing concerns of our younger generations. They are looking for a new vision in the coming decades, one which celebrates and prepares them for their common future.
-Akio Matsumura
(Photo: Dalai Lama confers with Senator Clairborne Pell of US Senate on Foreign Relations Committee, Rio 1992)
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