Thursday 16 April was the first conversation in a series titled ‘Trust in times of crisis’. We kicked off with Professor Rajmohan Gandhi, author, journalist and advocate for reconciliation and democratic rights, and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. Over 180 people from around the world joined the conversation.
It was wonderful to see so many people join our first virtual event. Trustbuilding Program manager Talia Smith hosted the conversation and welcomed IofCI president Suresh Vazirani to introduce Rajmohan.
Keeping our humanity
Rajmohan had a strong message. One sentence stayed with me for days: ‘Their hunger is greater than my fear.’ Rajmohan was quoting someone who, in spite of the risks of infection with COVID-19, takes food and water to homeless people In India, who would otherwise have nothing to eat. People risking their own health, in order to make sure that other people don’t suffer: for me this expressed what Rajmohan’s talk was all about.
Unity in times of crisis
‘The virus has rearranged our kaleidoscopes,’ Rajmohan said. ‘We can see all of us ranged against the virus, against sickness, against injury, against destruction -- rather than nation against nation, or race against race, or some kind of people against another kind of people.
Will this new pattern endure? Or will we see a revival of passion for my group, my race, my religious community, my people, my country -- and against the other? This is the time to ask honest questions. Bold questions. We have the incentive to ask, the time to ask.’
In the Q&A round, it became clear that there was one particular question on the minds of most participants: ‘How can we as changemakers make sure that we don’t fall back into old patterns?’ Rajmohan spoke about his trust in the people attending the event. He said that he believes we will speak out and stand up to our leaders.
A united front beyond
Clearly not an easy task, but an important one. And in order to be able to do so, international networks like Initiatives of Change and programmes like the Trustbuilding Program are so important. They ensure people are connected, exchange knowledge and, above all, establish a basis of trust which transcends differences in race, religion, community and nationality. Now, more than ever, we need to ask ourselves the difficult questions and reach out to the people who need our help.
Watch for yourself
Here you can view a recording of the webinar, with Rajmohan’s talk and his answers to the questions of the attendees.
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The Trustbuilding Program is aimed at addressing divisive issues at the international and national levels, on the premise that only those who have undergone the internal process of becoming trustworthy themselves can close gaps across the globe. The Program was launched by Initiatives of Change International in 2019 with projects in Kenya, Canada and France.