“We need a new system of values, a system of the organic unity between humankind and nature and the ethic of global responsibility.”
One of the most influential political leaders of our time, Mikhail Gorbachev is widely admired for ending the Cold War through the unification of Germany and the reforms he instituted in the Soviet Union. He changed the map of Europe, freeing hundreds of millions of people from Hungary to Poland to Soviet States themselves, and altered the geopolitical landscape of the world, inspiring world powers to abandon the dangerous brinkmanship of the nuclear arms race for a new era of international cooperation and understanding.
Gorbachev initiated sweeping internal reforms in the Soviet Union which led to greater expression of political and cultural ideas and a renewed sense of progress and industry. This plan of new economic, social, political and spiritual growth was known as ‘perestroika’.
Gorbachev emphasizes the spiritual needs of humanity as akin to the material needs, suggesting that the progress of the inner and outer lives must go hand-in-hand. His refocusing of national agenda on the increased need for personal freedoms was a signature reform which won the trust of many Western political leaders. It led to his granting freedom to hundreds of millions of people in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In 1990, President Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
As is the case with many great personages, Gorbachev’s vision was widely criticised in his own country during his tenure as the leader of the Supreme Soviet and later as the first President of the Soviet Union. His resignation was submitted in December 1991. The socioeconomic reforms started by Gorbachev were criticised for being too compromising socialist rather than communist but yet not fully capitalist and the new ‘reformers’, themselves created by perestroika, forced the greatest reformer from power.
Since 1991, Gorbachev has remained extremely active on the international stage through the International Green Cross, dedicated to the environmental and related political issues of our age, as well as the Gorbachev Foundation, a nonprofit agency dedicated to global social and economic issues. Through the Gorbachev Foundation, Mikhail Gorbachev continues to have an influential presence internationally as an inspirer, philosopher and architect for global understanding and peace.
Recipient of the U Thant Peace Award from Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations, 1994