Point Your Moral Compass Towards Social and Economic Justice

Last week's third annual Opportunity Collaboration (Ixtapa, Mexico) opened with my thoughts for a shared vision at social change conferences:

Greetings, Fellow Delegates.

At the Opportunity Collaboration, we are -- first and foremost -- pragmatists. In every conversation we are aware that the root causes of economic injustice are many and interconnected.

Delegates to the Opportunity Collaboration know that we live in a dynamic, open source global ecology. It is true for climate change. It is true about peace and human rights. It is true for economic justice.

Because we know multi-disciplinary solutions to poverty are needed, Delegates are committed to reaching beyond parochial policy silos -- united in setting aside our institutional egos.

We are united in our commitment to openly share ideas and innovations, to put aside our business cards, to work together, to good listenership.

At the Opportunity Collaboration, we are idealistic doers and inventive activists -- executives and investors -- realists grounded in the tough work we do.

We are subversive revolutionaries -- upsetting the status quo of complacency and negativity. We are here to enlist allies, form coalitions and create force multipliers.

We know that the line between economics and politics is blurry and thin. In the words of my friend Ananya Roy: "The rich have state-help, the poor have self-help."

At the Opportunity Collaboration, Delegates share a sense of urgency -- some days even panic -- because we detest the fact that every single day more children are irrationally born to a life without respect or reach.

By mid-century, 9 billion people will share our planet. Projecting today's poverty numbers, if nothing changes, 4.5 billion people will be struggling to live on tomorrow's equivalent of $2.00/day.

Delegates to the Opportunity Collaboration know that there are many kinds of capital: Financial capital. Human capital. Knowledge capital. Imagination and innovation capital. Credibility capital. Emotional capital.

Some of our organizations are rich in intellectual capital. Others are wealthy with financial capital.

Along with counting money, wisdom, compassion and experience also must be counted and valued.

Fellow Delegates, we are called upon to ask a simple question. Not "How can you help me?", but rather "How can I help you?" Not "How can you help me?", but rather "How can we work together?"

The Opportunity Collaboration is applied R&D -- discovering converging interests, shared missions, practical methodologies, pioneering innovations.

Delegates know there is no contradiction between our lofty goals and our daily work. Each informs the other. In the words of a famous WWII spy, "we can be high-minded without being soft-headed."

The Opportunity Collaboration is rooted in our basic understanding about fairness. Delegates think it is basic fairness -- if you prefer, call it economic justice -- to live on a planet where every person can feed a family, live in respectable housing, drink clean water, send a child to a good school, safely walk the streets, use a decent health system, and participate with dignity in their community.

Delegates to the Opportunity Collaboration are writing a story. It is the story of economic justice. It is a story that we must write together.

Thank you for having the courage to point your moral compass towards social and economic justice.