I was there: what the 20th anniversary of 9/11 means to me by Virginia Swain

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A colleague and friend, the late author and spiritual director Nan Merrill, wrote me after 9/11: “September 11, 2001, will long be remembered as a terrible and shocking tragedy. Forever vivid will be the memory of how our nation and the world joined in solidarity with nations and peoples devastated by war and violence.”

I was there–to get my comments about the experience on 9/11, click here

In the months following, I founded the Institute for Global Leadership after I was in New York City on 9/11 because of the need for a new leadership model that would prepare people, institutions and nations to work for common interest in a post-9/11 world. The Institute was formed to recognize all human beings, institutions, nations and multilateral organizations for their uniqueness, need and capacity for transformation. We developed and implemented a Reconciliation Leadership approach over 30 years at the United Nations. Now Reconciliation Leaders serve America and redefine leadership for a spiritual renaissance for all people drawing on Historian Arnold Toynbee’s research.

Toynbee studied 21 civilizations, and in his twelve volumes of The Study of History developed a model of tracing their birth, growth, and decay. 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. It was hoped that the common global threat would be addressed by the United Nations Secretary-General’s COVID19 Ceasefire, but there is no political will and trust for such action and cooperation among states.

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

Or will we come together and build trust for an interdependent world?

Reconciliation Leader Dr. Sarah Sayeed will begin to answer these questions as the featured speaker and receive the Institute for Global Leadership’s Life Leadership Service Award when the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary on October 21, 2021. The virtual program will run from 1-3 pm on Zoom. In celebration of our 20th anniversary, we will launch the Phoenix Scholarship in honor of all graduates of the leadership program.

The Institute honors the significant contribution of Dr. Sarah Sayeed to the interdisciplinary practice of Reconciliation Leadership, a program for practical idealists from all cultures, disciplines, and career paths in service to reconcile protracted conflict and restore faith in leadership and in America. The award recognizes the practice of “leadership from the inside out,” the application of Reconciliation Leadership to build communities and her collaboration with me on papers concerning Reconciliation Leadership that we co-authored in 2005 and 2006 for The Human Dignity Network at Columbia University.

  • “Leadership and Practice to Reconcile Challenges in a Post–September 11th World” presented with Dr. Sarah Sayeed, 2006
  • “Reconciliation as Policy: A Capacity–Building Proposal for Renewing Leadership and Development” presented with Dr. Sarah Sayeed, 2005
  • For a rationale of why Reconciliation Leadership and the Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service are needed for a post 9/11 world, read the above papers presented at the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Conference.

    Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations and founder of Global Movement for a Culture of Peace, provided support at the United Nations for the Reconciliation Leadership certificate program, dedicating it to the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World (2001-2010).   Ambassador Chowdhury wrote the foreword for the book, My Soul’s Journey to Redefine Leadership: A New Phoenix Rises from the Ashes of 9/11 (Xlibris 2017).

    Central to our work is addressing the cycle of violence differently than American leaders did. We address the historic cycle of violence with a strategy through the Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service as seen through this visual reprinted with permission by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  The healing of the cycle of violence is shown in the diagram below right.

    Reconciliation Leaders learned from 9/11 and addressed the cycle of violence helping people through the outer circle towards reconciliation—including re-humanizing the enemy, grief, acceptance and forgiveness.

    Learn about the Reconciliation Leadership Certificate Program and case studies of how the Institute reconciles protracted challenges in a Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service with the Peacebuilding Process.  We will build on our rich history for a post-September 11th world in years to come.

    Dr. Elise Boulding trained us in a researched methodology to image the solution to a challenge. Dr. Boulding argues that we can’t reconcile a challenge unless we can see it in our mind’s eye. Imaging plays a key role in our work. Below, participants use imaging as a way to envision a solution to climate change in one of the Reconciliation Leadership courses taught at the United Nations, called Designing and Implementing Interventions for Resistant Systems for Local, Institutional, National and Global Change. We create a timeline and action plan after the image is conceptualized (see below for group image from one of the courses)

    Below is Dr. Joseph Baratta’s dissertation on United Nations Reform as it is revisioned in the imaging workshop in 2010.

    Below see a group image that came out of each participant’s commitment to make a difference. They imaged a new world emerging from the global ravages of COVID19. Each participant made their own timeline and action plan.

    Awakening a New Earth in Wellness Light and Love

    For the Phoenix,

    Virginia Swain

    vswain@global-leader.org

    508-245-6843