Saturday, 7 June 2014

Tomorrow's Leaders Conference Day 1 - Introduction

Being both slightly nervous and excited, I arrived 2 hours prior to the commencement of the Tomorrow's Leaders Conference organised by The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity (7-12 June 2014).

Along with several other students from Trinity College, we will be discussing and tackling the various ethical issues that are present and the methods and various perspectives in countering them.

Being one of the only freshmen present at the conference today, it was slightly intimidating.
Quoting Anna from Frozen, "I don't know if I'm elated or gassy, but I'm somewhere in that zone!"
However, it was comforting to know that although there were many well educated people attending the conference, we all shared the same butterflies in our stomach.

We were introduced to Marion Wiesel, one of the founders of the Wiesel foundation, who welcomed us with a big smile. We were then split up into four groups where we briefly discussed what ethics is all about. The students gave examples based on their personal opinions which were largely influenced by their field of study - through medical or social eyes, for example. Some described ethics as:- 

  • the grey area (having arguments on both sides)
  • being relative to ones' self
  • being different within varying cultures and more. 

(photo taken from Tomorrow's Leaders booklet)

We then discussed Magogodi Makhene's essay - The Ethics of South African Identity which won the first prize in the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics, 2007. Magogodi herself was there to explain the inspiration behind her essay. We focused on the essentiality of forgiveness in order let go of the past (referring to the treatment of the blacks by the whites in South Africa) to obtain self-peace. This could then be generalised to other events that involved grudges. Interestingly, forgiveness is needed to be given by the victim for the ability to heal from the negative event, regardless of whether it is sought by the perpetrator.

However, we emphasised on the importance that the memories should not be forgotten, but instead be used to inspire future generations to learn from it. 

We continued to elaborate that justice should be upheld in all scenarios. 
  • Justice for the victims, to receive compensation and support.
  • Justice for the perpetrators, to receive not only punishment, but support to bring them out of continuing to be an aggressor.

The short session today was really challenging in various aspects. Also, it was amazing getting to know many other people who had an expertise in various other areas which resulted in many different opinions. Here's to a great start of the conference and a fun/knowledge-filled five more days!

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