Monday, June 11, 2012

Fes Forums - Day three

As is always the case, The Fes Festival Forums are a hugely popular part of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. They are well attended and the debates continue, long after each session closes. Vivian Nguyen reports from day three of the forums.  

Jean-François de Lavison and Katherine Marshall

Écoute. Tolerance. Humilité. Individu. Questionnement. Universel. Example.

For Jean-François de Lavison, each of these words represent part of an acronym of what constitutes the essence of l'éthique—the French word for ethic.

During today's Forum discussion at the Batha Museum titled, "Business and spirituality," de Lavison, who is the president of Ahimsa Partners, centered his argument on the connection between ethics and spirituality.

"Spirituality offers the answer that ethics can be universal. ... We must create a sense of spirituality between the stakeholders and the world".

Ethics, he claims, create a link between the spiritual and business worlds, which in turn offers a new perspective on the role spirituality plays in defining the ethnical and business self.

Other key issues de Lavison raised include cultivating a society for youth that successfully bridges the contradiction between these two ideas, as well as the importance of creating a business model that appreciates the spiritual contexts of different cultures and situations around the world.

"Bridging the world is important. ... We need to grasp the context for working in certain countries. What works in one country does not necessarily work in another. These are the initiatives that can work. We have give meaning to what we do".

In addition to de Lavison, today's other speakers featured Patrick Viveret, Marc De Smedt, Katherine Marshall, Mohamed Kabbaj, and Henri Joyeux.

Katherine Marshall

Marshall, who is an American professor at Georgetown University in the U.S., elaborated on her argument during the Forum break by reflecting on how the business world and the religious sphere have conflicting, often negative opinions of the other side. There are, however, many people who operate and straddle the bridges between these two sectors.

This is the conversation that Marshall believes society should be having in regard to the contentious relationship between business and spirituality. She noted that economic growth by itself simply does not offer a sufficient answer to the question of how to meet a society's needs. There is much questing today for real and practical new models to address social and economic demands of today.

"Clearly, there is a very wide recognition that there is too much consumption in our world," said Marshall.

Earlier in the Forum, the Sanskrit word ahimsa played a pivotal role in discussion among today's participants. The term asks one to act kind and have respect for others, as well as to refrain from violence.

This notion of ahimsa was also embedded in Marshall's response about the ways spirituality could help redefine business practices in the future.

"Moderation of resources will be key moving forward ... what we want is equity, above all so that poor people can have true access to the benefits of our globalized world, without human consumption literally destroying the earth. It is simply unacceptable to suggest that the poor should wait or should be deprived of opportunities because of our concerns about climate change and carbon emissions. We simply must find better ways."

Marshall's words, much like de Lavison's, offer new ways to understand and redefine the ways that spirituality and the ethical self will continue to challenge business ideologies in today's current economic turmoil.

Tomorrow's Forum, titled "Financial crisis or civilization crisis?" will be sure to build from the current conversation between business and spirituality as well as the ethical self. The discussion will take place at 09h00 at the Batha Museum. For more information, please visit

Reporting for The View from Fez Vivian Nguyen

See also: Vivian's reports from
Fes Forums Day One
Fes Forums Day Two


Festival Programme
Festival in the City
Sufi Nights
Festival Forums
Festival Eating Guide
Art during the Festival #1
Art during the Festival #2
The Enchanted Gardens of Fez
Last Minute Accommodation


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