Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pioneer Profiles: The Elders

The Elders, a council of 12 globally-respected elders and humanitarians, set up to provide advice in the world's time of need. (source: Peter

In his 2005 autobiography, Richard Branson talks about a heartbreaking moment when his last minute intervention to stop the U.S-Iraq war is just too late.

When Branson gets word of the impending tension between the U.S and Iraq, he appeals to Nelson Mandela, and Kofi Annan to intervene. They quickly hatch a plan to find an amicable agreement that would prevent war between the two from fighting. But just as Nelson Mandela is set to fly out to Baghdad, the first bomb is dropped. Branson is heartbroken, and describes his early inaction as the biggest regret of his life.

What I learned from the experience, Branson writes, is that the world needs a group of elders who can step in on behalf of the world community in situations like 'elders' to deliver a voice to the people of the world.

I love this idea. In times of moral dilemma, we don't go to political, financial or strategic advisors. We go to people who have strong moral compasses, and great personal wisdom, who guide us with the depths of their beings. So why not provide the same thing for the world. Globally respected elders available for the world's times of need??

And the joy of it is that Branson went on to create exactly that concept. The Elders was launched in July 2007, with a group of 12 world-respected elders. Lets hope they put their powerful punch to the test soon!

For those interested, there is a great profile of the Elders and Virgin Unite in this BusinessWeek article.

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