Some of the region's and the world's leading lights from the business, public and civil society sectors are scheduled to gather in Bali December 7 & 8, 2003, to participate in the United in Diversity Forum.
Bold and innovative in its approach, the Forum seeks to create a collaborative education platform to foster dialogue between the diverse sectors of business, civil society and public sector to harness Indonesia's almost limitless economic potential to support a successful and equitable transition to becoming the world's third largest democracy.
Building Trust for a Common Future
In recognition of the urgency of the task at hand and the grave consequences for Indonesia's people if they fail, an impressive list of international leaders from every walk of life will be sitting down together in Bali to map strategies for future stability, to heal the wounds of cultural confrontation, promote equitable access to educational resources, and reaffirm a shared commitment for the fundamentally important task ahead.
Supported by MIT Sloan School of Management, University of Indonesia, and Sinar Harapan Publishing Group, "United in Diversity Froum" will host respected international statesmen, diplomats, educators, legalists, financiers, entertainers, business people and community leaders to, as explained by World Bank President James D. Wolfenson, bring "together government, civil society and private sector in a coordinated approach to the development of the country, the sharing of values, the sharing of objectives, in a way that the old contradictions and competitiveness between civil society, private sector and government did not allow."
Will any forum eliminate the sharp differences in viewpoint and approach existing among the divergent sectors of Indonesian society? Nobody supposes for a moment that it will. The very pretext for the coming Forum is that any differences of opinions between various sectors of society are of secondary importance to a common shared desire to build a just and democratic society. Once when once divirgent individuals acknowledge a shared consensus on societal goals does mutually beneficial cooperation becomes possible; only then does diversity becomes a strength.
No Turning Back
As economist Lester Thurow of the Sloan School of Management, one of the speakers at the coming Forum, often points out: a wheel is composed of many spokes that provide the wheel its strength and integrity by pointing in opposite directions but move in a common direction down a single path.
Sadly, Mr. Thurow's simple analogy is lost on those who believe progress operates on the basis of dialectics; that only open conflict can foster societal change. Misguided, these individuals oppose gatherings such as the coming Forum, seeing transparency and dialog across sectors to build trust and unity as a manipulative charade by the powerful to appease and 'buy off' the disenfranchised.
We have a deeply held conviction that such 'nay sayers' are wrong. We are certain that there exists vast areas of common ground for united effort without anyone being required to compromise their deeply felt beliefs.
To our mind, a shared desire for a better tomorrow is the common hub that hold the spokes of our unwieldy wheel together; it's also perhaps our only hope for the difficult road that lied ahead for Indonesia.
We look forward to the United in Diversity Forum to be held in Bali December 7-8, 2003.
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