A recent visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum brought home forcefully that we live in dangerous times—times that demand new ways of being and doing.

Executive Summary

"In a universe characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, our only uniquely human resource and strength is compassion," believes Karen Morris, CM guest editor and co-author of this article. "We join the machine of our machine age without it," she says, explaining the impetus for this article penned with Kirsty MacGregor, CEO at The MacGregor Leadership Consultancy and a director of the Global Compassion Initiative at the University of Edinburgh. Together, the two university alumni argue that mankind's technological advances do not have to deliver the collateral damage that so often accompanies them and also suggest that global insurers are uniquely positioned to positively inform corporate behavior and to promote new ways of being and doing.

Sober, quiet, discomforted by more than the heat, we queued until we saw them: photographs. Here, an exuberant city; there, utter, lifeless desolation. Life, with noisy street vendors in the crowded, narrow streets, sleepy children and harried parents heading for school; then, death, the eerie calm of flattened buildings, the charred remnants of a city. A voice at our side murmurs “What were we thinking?”

No one replied, “Technical sweetness.”

This expression is used by scientists and engineers to describe the resolution of a problem when a seemingly intractable puzzle’s disparate, exasperating pieces come together in dazzling harmony.

The genius J. Robert Oppenheimer, intently focused under pressure of war on building a workable atomic weapon, experienced “technical sweetness” when the first atomic explosion on Earth, the Trinity Test on July 16, 1945, surpassed expectations in its destructive force.

Oppenheimer exulted, “It worked.”

Later, Oppenheimer recalled that a line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, came to his mind: “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

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