Toynbee’s call to enlightened leadership remains a call to us for action.

Will we come together and build trust for an interdependent world?


Will our global civilization go down divided in decay as others did?

What is your role in helping resolve these challenges?

In his study of 21 civilizations and his twelve volumes of The Study of History , Arnold Toynbee developed a model of tracing the birth, growth, and decay of each of the civilizations. Throughout, he held that authentic religion and spirituality give civilization its vitality. When religious and spiritual groups decay, the civilization falls. Toynbee feared the West was perishing after the tragedies of the two world wars. The United Nations was our hope, but it was conceived in member state self-interest 75 years ago, the death knell of a world needing cooperation. There have been nearly 300 wars since its founding. A new approach is needed to reform the United Nations.

As Toynbee writes, ‘Evidently few people are ready to recognize that the institution of local sovereign states has failed repeatedly, during the last 5,000 years, to meet mankind’s (humankind’s) political needs, and that, in a global society, this institution is bound to prove to be transitory once again and this time more surely than ever before.’

Toynbee placed his hope in creative leaders who, seeing the challenges of the times, would respond with the creation of new, more just and peaceful institutions. He placed high hopes in those working for a united Europe which would put an end to the Germany-France-England tensions which had led to two World Wars (2). Toynbee believed that civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively. However, unlike Oswald Spengler in his Decline of the West (1918), Toynbee believed that decline was not inevitable, but that there could be regenerative forces in response to challenges. Those with a world vision and strong energy must come to the fore.” Rene Wadlow

Toynbee’s call to enlightened leadership remains a call to us for action.

We place our hope in enlightened Reconciliation Leaders, developed and trained over 30 years at the United Nations, responding to the need presented at the Earth Summit in 1992. A first step is to move from blame to accountability in our creative response to Toynbee’s warning. For more, click here.

We invite every person on this planet to find their center of stillness surrounded by silence. This simple act changes the definition of peace and global security from outside ourselves to within each of us—we call this a Global Ethic, a spiritual renaissance of “leadership from the inside out“.

We have been restoring faith in leadership in the United Nations since 1991 with leadership from the inside out, Reconciliation Leadership. We have a history of an inclusive Intergenerational approach for buiilding trusting community relationships. Reconciliation Leader Dr. Sarah Sayeed spoke of her twenty years experience building trust in the public square. We build trust every first Monday with America’s Online Soul Community. International Facilitation Week provided support for America’s Soul Community during the International Facilitators Summit with a workshop.

We heed the words of former United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld written outside the Visitor’s Entrance Meditation Room he built, written on a plaque outside the United Nations Visitor’s lobby Meditation Room, exemplifing leadership from the inside out. If you’d like to listen to his words sung in a chant form by Quaker Singer-Songwriter Paulette Meier, click on the audio link below the words:

We all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence. This house, dedicated to work and debate in the service of peace, should have one room dedicated to silence in the outward sense and stillness in the inner sense. It has been the aim to create in this small room a place where the doors may be open to the infinite lands of thought and prayer.

It was hoped that the common global threat would be addressed by the United Nations Secretary-General’s COVID-19 Ceasefire, but there is no political will and trust for such action and cooperation among states. We continue to support such a ceasefire as described in our presentation to the Academic Council of the United Nations in 2020.

Drawing on 30 years experience addressing the tacit norms of the United Nations that prevent the body from achieving its goals, we developed and trained Reconciliation Leaders to move from expert to catalyst facilitators.

We are In a crossroads moment of institutional, social, ecological, economic and religious global history and have been restoring faith in leadership at the United Nations since 1991 to create an interdependent body to address the Global Problematique, the lens that views global problems beyond silo-ing and the capacity of individual sovereign states to resolve alone.  The Global Problematique view allows leaders to have a worldview that makes change possible. View a presentation we made at the Academic Council of the United Nations to support the UN Secretary-General’s COVID-19 ceasefire.

The Institute for Global Leadership’s call for a Global Ethic, a spiritual renaissance, is a call to revive our spiritual vitality to act together for the common good and save our civilization from decay. Will the political will of the people (as defined by Rousseau) save us from self-interest and possible extinction? Will we able to build trusting relationship across our divides? On October 21, 2021 we honored and listened to Reconciliation Leader Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Director of the NYC Civic Engagement Center speak of her experience building trusting community relationships over two decades in the public square.

Virginia Swain saw the inspiration of her dream of a Phoenix when she was in New York City during the World Trade Center attack on 9/11/01 as a way to enact Ecotheologian Thomas Berry’s dream of the need for the world’s soul through a new story. Also, Thomas Banyanca’s Hopi Prophecy with Reconciliation Leaders, the program for emerging and seasoned professionals Virginia developed at the United Nations over 30 years, redefines leadership for America and the world.

We are a world in need of leadership. Reconciliation Leaders embrace a Global Ethic through a shared moral and spiritual vision inspired by the dream of the Phoenix for America and our world.

We have been building a model of development for 30 years facilitated by Reconciliation Leaders called the Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation to Develop Political Will. Begun in 1991 with Celebration of the Children of the World: A Model for Building Global Community, where the denominational church becomes the societal church in a parallel development strategy (Rothauge) to strengthen the United Nations, the model was developed over three decades: for example A Global Liturgy looked at healing racism at the the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1995.

Virginia’s dream of a Phoenix when she was in New York City during the World Trade Center attack on 9/11/01 inspired her to invite others to revive our global vitality by “responding with creativity” and developing a mandate to work with others to build a global ethic to restore faith in leadership.

Sitting with the Phoenix for 17 years in meditation allowed Virginia time to consider, over the years, ways to knit peoples’ hearts and minds together. In partnership with the Phoenix, her leadership and development models are especially designed to work with others to heal this divided world for the common good. She redefines political will as Rousseau did and designed the models to build community among all people after witnessing the breakdown of nation state consensus at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Other implementations may be seen here.

The Institute for Global Leadership takes actions to restore faith in leadership:

The Institute invites emerging and seasoned leaders to join us for coaching and training to re-examine your mission and learn new skills and perspectives for a Reconciliation Leadership approach to a Global Ethic, a spiritual renaissance, in a COVID-19 world. You also will learn to be in a 200-year present, learn a new approach to leadership and development as well as a broad systems-thinking worldview. In a crossroads moment of institutional, social, ecological and economic global history, we’ve been restoring faith in leadership at the United Nations since 1991 for the Global Problematique, global problems beyond the capacity of sovereign states to solve alone.  We are a world in need of leadership.

  • Training Reconciliation Leaders through a basic and advanced certificate program for competency at four levels: personal, interpersonal, systemic and global. Reconciliation Leaders facilitate coexistence, the willingness to give the other the right to exist, as a first step in local, national and global challenges through the Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation. If participants are ready to forgive, Reconciliation Leaders take them deeper into a reconciliation process. They are taught to develop the will of the people through Rousseau’s definition of political action (Master’s Thesis, Lesley University 1993)
  • Joining a Global Ethic, A Spiritual Renaissance, to Restore Faith in Leadership with Virginia Swain, founder and director of the Institute for Global Leadership. We need to cultivate our spiritual and moral essence that keeps us separate and isolated from each other. Quaker Chanter Paulette Meir has beautifully captured (scroll down to bottom right) “leadership from the inside out” that comes from the spiritual renaissance within each person’s soul.

Friends of Dag Hammarskjöld and others:

Drawing on a 30-year commitment to the United Nations, a friendship with Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, authors Barbara V. Wheeler and Michael E. Collins the late Dr. Elise Boulding and Hopi Elder Thomas Banyanca, a lifechanging meeting with Thomas Berry and his call for a global soul. I am grateful for the the wisdom and leadership code gained from the life of the 2nd United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld to train Reconciliation Leaders. See an interview with  Roger Lipsey , author of  Politics and Conscience: Dag Hammarskjold on the Art of Ethical Leadership.  One attribute of Hammarskjold’s Leadership Code is the “way of a Statesperson which shows one’s connection between one’s spiritual quest and understanding in relation to one’s public role.”

We invite emerging and seasoned leaders to join us to find your center of stillness surrounded by silence, reexamine your mission, learn new skills and develop a broad worldview in this crossroads moment of institutional, social, ecological and economic global history.

During these dark days of transition, we find solace in the Meditation #8 of Divine Encouragement: Living with the Presence of Hope by Collins and Wheeler, the essence of a spiritual renaissance.

If you wonder how to live in these times, rejoice in the ordinary, embrace the simple

For in these things the Spirit remains indelible. 

Be at peace with your brothers and sisters, the Earth.

Devise ways of praise which are genuinely from your heart and celebrated by your spirits.

Rejoice in your humanness, your maleness, your femaleness.

Look for the Spirit in all things and

You will see blessings flow in abundance.

Recognize the Light in the least of things.

If you would seek majesty, look to the smallest fleck of sand

For it contains the essence of All Knowing and All Love

For it, like you,

Is a substance energized by Love.

Mediation #8  Divine Encouragement: Living with the Presence of Hope by Michael E. Collins and Barbara V. Wheeler ©Xlibris 2003

For the Phoenix,

Virginia Swain

Join Us

We invite you to join us to lead from the inside out, re-examine your mission, learn new skills and develop a broad worldview in this crossroad moment of institutional, social, ecological, and economic global history.

Ready to learn more?

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