“ALL THAT YOU HAVE, BEQUEATHED YOU BY YOUR FATHER, EARN IT IN ORDER TO POSSESS IT”
XXXVIII EDITION- RIMINI MEETING
20-26 AUGUST 20017
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the utmost pleasure to be here in Rimini, again, for this Meeting of Friendship among People. I say “again” because, 5 years ago, in August 2012, I spoke here in my former capacity as the President of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly.
As for today, I am pleased to deliver a message on behalf of His Exc., UN Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres, who conveys his profound regrets at being unable to attend himself due to prior engagements.
The Secretary General’s message is based on the theme you have chosen for this 38th Edition event quoting from Goethe’s Faust:
“ALL THAT YOU HAVE, BEQUEATHED YOU BY YOUR FATHER,
EARN IT IN ORDER TO POSSESS IT.”
This quote from Goethe is meant to inspire your programme of work. To learn from Faust, it means that, in order to really benefit from a legacy, we must first understand the lessons and responsibilities underlying such legacy. We must avoid Faust’ behavior who despite being highly successful but yet dissatisfied with his life, leads him to make a pact with the Devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures, spoiling his love and legacy and, at the end, losing it all!
We arrive at this moment in time and space, shaped by both the good and bad decisions made by our fathers. How much time and thought do we really spend learning from the lessons and responsibilities entailing our right to their legacies?
We can only guess, for example, how much richer our inheritance might have been without the horrors of World War I and World War II, but let us hope that we have learned and earned from their sacrifices, and also their wise decisions, made during and after those troubling times, such as the United Nations Charter and its Universal Conventions on Human and Civil Rights.
The act of earning and possessing does not flow just one way. It also means passing on to others, those who come after us – the next generations. In fact, we can never really possess – we only own for a while, in order to pass on to the next generations. We owe as much, if not more, to those who come after us as we do to those who came before.
One of the key concepts flowing from our dialogue on sustainable development is the idea of inter-generational equity.
What legacy are we leaving our children and grand children in the exploitation of our natural resources and our abuse of the planet as a sink for global waste?
The mounting threats to the future of our planet requires us to give greater attention on how we produce and consume goods. The eco-system is limited and will not be able to sustain much more excessive growth.
This imbalance in resource use, acquisition and control provides tinder for regional wars, conflicts and various forms of extremism, which also serve to destabilize populations and provoke migratory surges to the detriment of all.
Air, water and food are the three indispensible fundamentals of human existence, which people in developed countries invariably take for granted because they have always been available.
Then, what else have we inherited? We have as legacy a world with people full of differences: different cultures, different traditions, different religions, different skin colors different ideas and different experiences. All to compare and to share!
Diversity first of all recognizes that the human family is made up of a rich array of peoples, social standing and wealth. Diversity is a human unavoidable condition. It is a characteristic common to humanity, and diversity is also in Nature itself: diversity of flowers, vegetation, soils, resources, weather, human knowledge and wealth which we must share fairly between ourselves.
The challenges we face are great.
The United Nations seeks partnerships and leadership from diverse groups: NGOs, private sector, academia, religious and civic leaders.
Where are the leaders who are prepared to act for generations yet unborn?
What legacy shall we bequeath our children and grandchildren?
What legacy will we leave them to pass on to their children?
The great test for human leadership, and for the United Nations in this century is to make sure the earth remains a habitable home for humanity.
Let’s not forget that Faust’s story started in Heaven, but it is on Earth that we should work to nurture a legacy based on the joy of living and happiness for Mankind and the next generations.