Charles Grant was a wealthy industrialist in the early 1800s. As the head of the British East India Company (BEIC) he was one of the most powerful and influential business leaders of his day. BEIC employed half the world’s slaves in its multifarious activities such as the management of sugar cane, tea and rubber plantations.
One morning 200 hundred years ago Charles Grant woke up with a change of conscience. He could see that the enslavement of some for the benefit of others was morally wrong and he set out to right that wrong. At the risk of losing everything he had dedicated his life to – status, position, power and money – he set out to help make slavery illegal. He and others dedicated to this cause were successful. The moral imperative trumped the economic imperative. Although slavery stills exists in pockets throughout the world today, its pervasiveness has been greatly diminished.
One could argue that the abolishment of slavery was the landmark legislative coup of its day. The single stroke of a pen making slavery a crime set in motion a domino cascade of changes to human culture, all for the better – the right of women to vote, the civil rights movement, even the recent advent of the Arab Spring. More and more people everywhere acknowledge that the advantages of human birth should be universally available regardless of race, gender, nationality or religion.
One could also argue that the proposed law on Ecocide making it the fifth international crime against peace is potentially world changing. It could make today’s destructive business practices obsolete. It could legally encourage corporate leaders to move their focus toward a truly green economy.
Polly Higgins and her team are actively seeking an influential corporate figure prepared to be the Charles grant of today; someone willing to champion the proposed ecocide law at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June this year. As Polly said to me in our recent interview: What the world needs today is bold, moral and courageous leadership. Who is willing to be such a leader now? We know you’re out there.
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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com
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