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Most of my professional career was spent on assignments outside of Europe. I have worked mostly in the development field, mainly for the European Union of which I have been a civil servant for the last three decades. Besides diplomatic functions associated with the job, I also remember a life made of packing and unpacking from house to house in ten countries and four continents. Traditional diplomacy was a necessity. However, sense-making and learning from the ground appeared more efficient—and more enjoyable—than toasting with dubious political benefits. Diplomacy was born on the understanding that it is wiser to listen rather than to eat the messenger, so there was no risk for me!
Experience taught me that the soul and heart are better nurtured by ordinary people than any president or minister. Indeed, they taught me humility, respect and the deep flavor of life. Hundreds of individual faces from Haiti, Nicaragua, Peru, Guatemala, and, in particular Bangladesh are to this day carved inside me. I can still feel their presence. Fun was often present. My life became a book of stories that made me understand: my roots are not in my past—they are in the present. Or maybe, in the infinite, we shall see.
How does it fit with Kosmos? I like non-linear paths and slow thinking. My first knowledge of Kosmos happened when I met Richard Hames in our Bangkok office. Deep thanks, Richard, for our inspired chat and for sending the link to Kosmos a few days later. When I opened it, I eagerly consulted the table of contents and was seduced by the beauty and meaning of the pictures. They triggered within me serenity, peace, joy, compassion and intuitive creativity. Immediately, I printed out the whole issue in color! I couldn’t wait for the six issues I immediately ordered by mail through Nancy, who answered right away. When the postal package arrived from the US, I remember showing it to my colleagues in the office, feeling like a child exhibiting a new gift.
Since then, in spite of their weight, issues of the Journal have accompanied me on most of my missions. Not only to read them again, but also to share them with people I meet along the way. The magazine, with its dense and deep content, is a gentle and regular companion in my times of slow thinking, gently inviting me out of my comfort zone. Kosmos is a jewel that calls to be shared face to face. I remember a roundtable of diplomats in Brussels where I invited the other panelists, both daughters of prestigious ex-Prime Ministers in Asia, to have a look at an issue. More recently, I put copies on display at a workshop on Buddhist values and business I helped facilitate in Brussels.
When I recently learned about the Kosmos Ambassadors program, I realized that I had been, without knowing it, a de facto ambassador. I contacted Nancy and told her how I could contribute to the program. I really felt honored to be ‘accredited.’ I believe this ex-post consciousness of being a Kosmos Ambassador will remain a source of strength and inspiration to support the Journal and its values.
Kosmos is a way of digesting the stories of my life, giving them a sweet landing. It will continue to support the systemic transformation I have undertaken at a personal and societal level, including as a practitioner of participatory and community techniques within my institution. The Journal also provides me with additional tools in the journey towards the invisible, the deeper and the broader. I see it as part of a kind of soul and heart diplomacy.
This article was published in the Spring|Summer 2013 issue of Kosmos Journal.
Alain Ruche has worked most of his life, mainly for the European Union, in various countries around the world. A decade ago, he decided to settle down in Brussels at the Asia Directorate. He is dedicated to out-of-the-box thinking and policy making in the field of international relations. He also enjoys being active in an internal community of practice using techniques of collective intelligence. He is a fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and an associate member of the Club of Rome. A powerful question that animates him is, How to shift to the next level?
Alain Ruche has worked most of his life, mainly for the European Union, in various countries around the world. A decade ago, he decided to settle down in Brussels at the Asia Directorate. He is dedicated to out-of-the-box thinking and policy making in the field of international relations.
Fall | Winter 2016