The Sixth Republic?

Making a Difference

Today, we hold our annual conference for our school leavers and this year the theme is 'Making a Difference: changing the world'. I am delighted that we will be welcoming to speak Sir Thomas Shebbeare, James Mawdsley and Julian Filochowski: respectively, they will be addressing — How to Make a Difference, Global Democracy and Justice, Global Poverty Issues.

After leaving Exeter University in 1973, Tom Shebbeare joined the UK branch of World University Service, an international development agency specialising in refugee resettlement. In 1975 he was appointed General Secretary of the British Youth Council before moving, in 1980, to the permanent staff of The Council of Europe in Strasbourg. In 1985 he became Executive Director of the European Youth Foundation (a Council of Europe institution). In 1988 he was appointed by the Prince of Wales to be the first full time Director of The Prince’s Trust, becoming its Chief Executive in 1999 on its incorporation by Royal Charter. He was Knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2003. In September 2003 he was appointed Director of Charities in The Prince of Wales’s Office to lead the development of the nineteen charities of which HRH is founder and President. Tom is a Non-Executive Director of In Kind Direct (UK), UK Skills, Queens College (London) and The Nations Trust (South Africa).

James Mawdsley has been detained three times in Burma for challenging the military regime and distributing pro-democracy leaflets. In 1997 he was expelled from Burma. Returning to the country, he was arrested again for protesting, sentenced to 5 years and imprisoned for 99 days in Insein gaol, near Rangoon, in extreme discomfort and suffering some torture. Returning a third time, in 1999, he was sentenced to 17 years and imprisoned for over a year in the provincial town of Kengtung.  The prison authorities isolated him from the other prisoners as much as possible and punished him for infractions with severe beatings. He has written of his experiences in The Heart Must Break (The Iron Road in the US). During his time in prison he concluded that one of the best defences against oppression is education. For this reason he launched the Metta Trust for Children's Education in September 2001. He is chairman of the trust and raises funds through public speaking engagements where he seeks to promote awareness of the trust's aims.

Originally from Leeds, Julian Filochowski studied Development Economics at Cambridge. He joined CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) in September 1982. He was previously Education Co-ordinator at CIIR (Catholic Institute for International Relations), after a period of work in Latin America. During his years at CAFOD, he held many leadership positions in international Catholic networks, including President of CIDSE from 1986-89, Chairperson of Caritas International AIDS Task Force since 1988, membership of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum from 1989-94. He has also been a member of the Board of Christian Aid and a Trustee of CASC (Catholic Agency for Social Concern). He has been a member of the Bishops' Conference Department for International Relations since the mid-eighties and is presently a member of the Board of Caritas Europa and the Executive Committee of Caritas International. He held the post of Director at CAFOD for 20 years and saw the agency grow from a small organisation, spending less than £2 million a year on development projects overseas, to an organisation with an annual income of over £25 million. CAFOD is now one of the leading development agencies in the UK. While Director of CAFOD, he travelled to some 40 countries outside Europe, including Ethiopia, Iraq, Rwanda and Palestine. In 1998, he was awarded the OBE for services to International Development. "We can put a new heart into globalisation — globalisation without marginalisation: in campaigning, advocacy and protest we can change our world; another world is possible."

In the afternoon, I will be showing some sequences from Koyaanisqatsi (the Northern hemisphere) and Powaqqatsi (the Southern hemisphere). Godfrey Reggio has said:

The utopia of the technological order is virtual immortality … Now we have a new pantheon, the computer sits in the middle of it. The computer, not being a sign, is the most powerful instrument in the world: it produces what it signifies, it produces this globalisation. … This is an attempt like at the hour of death to rise above yourself, to see yourself in another context and this context is the technological order.

I don't know enough about Reggio to be able confidently to "place" these remarks in their entirety, but I hope that the sequences from these two films will fulfil his intention to provide a rich context in which to reflect on the morning's talks and discussions. Benign globalisation.