Tribute to Louis Armstrong

For the past 15 years I have been living in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the International Olympic Committee is based, and where the writer (most famous for A Many-Splendoured Thing) and the controversial “provocateur” Han Suyin lived before her passing on November 2 of this year, among other things. It is also where the world famous IMD business school is located where I have been working. I love this world, and when one is in love with the world, Lausanne is not a bad place to be.

It is next to Lake Léman, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, with blue skies most of the time, without pollution and with the wild colors of nature both in the city and its surroundings. My flat is about a 15 minute walk from IMD. I am often out and about and travel maybe 75% of my time. But when I am here, I invariably walk to work, and in doing so, pass through gardens, hear birds, see squirrels, sometimes, if it is especially early, a fox or two, all depending on the season, of course, but always splendid. I walk into my office and hum What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong!

As far as I can remember, I have always loved the world. But not only the flowers, the lakes, the trees and the hills, not only the birds, the squirrels and the deer, but also the men and women, or at least many of them, the tremendous variety of languages, cultures, stories , literature, painting. , music, topographies, architecture, food and drink, etc. Of course there is a lot of evil in this world, there is misery, which needs to be fought; there are many idiots; but all in all, what a wonderful world indeed.

Danger to the wonderful world

But the world is in grave danger of losing its splendor, its identity and its diversity. Finally, diversity, I mean not only biodiversity, but also cultural diversity and indeed cultural identity. The world has never been so interconnected and so open. However, as an educator, I am constantly amazed at how little people know or learn not only about other countries, but also about their own!

An example: A few days ago I took a flight from Dhaka to Istanbul. Just before departure, it was announced that the audiovisual system was not working, so there would be no “entertainment”. Business class was packed. With very, very few exceptions (I was one), the passengers, when not sleeping, spent the nine hours of flight staring into space. They had no books with them, nothing to read, nothing to learn from, nothing to challenge their minds. They travel physically, but not intellectually.

In his brilliant book Collapse, author Jared Diamond has shown how societies can and have committed ecocide. That is a great threat facing this wonderful world. Another great threat is the destruction of civilization due to excessive materialism and lack of curiosity.

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