he world is going through a crisis. Although most governments have pledged themselves to help develop a peaceful, sustainable, and socially just world, still we seem to be going in the opposite direction. Climate scientists have been warning that we are about to cross the tipping point, yet deforestation and environmental degradation continue unchecked. It is almost as if humankind has been gripped by a collective death wish. Though this is a time of great danger, fortunately it is also a time of great opportunity. Today, we have the knowledge and resources to create a peaceful and vibrant world.
A sustainable global system is not an option; it is the requirement if we are to survive as a species. We need to change our global system because the present system itself is the problem. A system designed to promote endless growth through mindless consumption is like a cancer that will ultimately consume humanity. If the present trends continue, growing shortages of water, food, and energy will collapse the global economy. We need a systemic transformation because a consumer society cannot evolve into a conserver society without structural change.
Humanity Stands At A Crossroads
It is no longer a cliché to say that humanity stands at a crossroads. We have two paths to the future. If we continue on the present path we shall destroy our civilization within decades, but if we can visualize the alternative, sustainable model of development, we shall bring about perhaps the most golden of all ages in human history. For this we need to give up the present model of profits at any cost and replace it with one where a holistic approach seeks to create a win-win, sustainable solution to problems by eliminating the underlying causes.
The industrial age has been a necessary stage in human development, enabling us to develop our science and technology. It has resulted in a better and longer life for most people, but these benefits have come at enormous societal and environmental costs. We need to replace the present global system where nation states compete with each other with a new, cooperating planetary civilization.
How Do We Set It Right?
So how do we go about setting right the wrongs? A greater consciousness is needed. A consciousness that makes us realize that we are only trustees for future generations. A consciousness that tells us that though we can enjoy the bounties of nature, we cannot act in greed. And when this consciousness is tempered with morality, that is, ideal behavior, we will have a better future to look forward to.
If we can all agree that all humans wish to live in an ideal society, then all humans must have a higher consciousness. In societies where this consciousness (a concern for our world and its inhabitants) is ingrained in the mind of an individual right from childhood, it is not difficult to find people who are genuinely concerned about the state of their world.
When we see the pitiful condition in which the world finds itself today, we are even more convinced that it is only through education that society can be enriched and given direction. Therefore, education must also act as a powerful instrument for profound social transformation.
Educating Society, the World, and Our Children
Educating society for educating the world starts with educating our children. If we could create a God-loving, compassionate, just, self-sacrificing generation of children, we would have done our duty. The challenge is to change mind-sets so that people in the schools, at home, and in society can collaborate and find solutions to the problems humanity faces today. The paradox is that a child learns something in school and then something completely different when he returns home. In addition, society confuses him even more.
It is only when a child learns to differentiate between right and wrong that we can call him a conscious and moral human being. The world needs a generation of such children. Only those children, who grow up and successfully take their rightful place as leaders of society, can bring real peace to the world through their actions.
History is replete with examples of how conscious and morally upright men and women have changed the lives of their fellow beings. Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and countless others provided inspiration and hopes for generations of change-makers. Perhaps the world is today short of leaders who think and work for the common good of all nations and peoples of the world. What can the children of this world expect from their elders? I suppose it would be best to leave this question unanswered.
Young Children Take The Lead
Fortunately, we have many inspiring examples of young children who are not willing to wait for the elders to take the initiative but are themselves pushing for change. Like thirteen-year-old Felix Finkbeiner, who, as a nine year old, pledged to plant one million trees. At the age of twelve, he fulfilled his dream by inspiring children in seventy countries, who together planted more than one million trees. Invited to speak to the United Nations General Assembly on February 2 of this year (2011), he said that children no longer trusted the adults who threaten the children’s future.
We urgently need to change direction. We must transform our consumer society into a regenerative society where the focus is not on having more but on being more. There is no third option; societies and species that are not environmentally sustainable become extinct. Our fate is in our hands, and the choices we make will determine our future.
Reprinted with permission of Inner Traditions, Inc.
©2012 by Ervin Laszlo and Kingsley L. Dennis.
All Rights Reserved. www.innertraditions.com
The New Science and Spirituality Reader
edited by Ervin Laszlo and Kingsley L. Dennis.
About the Author
Dr Jagdish Gandhi is a peace activist who has travelled globally and has been building bridges of unity and peace for more than five decades. For his long-standing contributions to education in peace, the United Nations awarded the prestigious UNESCO Prize for Peace Education for the year 2002 – to his unique creation – the City Montessori School, popularly known as CMS, which Dr Gandhi founded in 1959 with 5 children and borrowed capital of Rupees 300/- (Less than US $10 at that time). The school is listed in the Guinness Book since 1999 as the World’s Largest School in a single city with the present enrollment of over 42,000 pupils for the session 2012-2013. Dr Gandhi believes that World Judiciary is the last and only hope for survival of humanity and therefore he has been leading a campaign on behalf of 42,000 CMS students representing the world's over two billion children and generations yet-to-be-born. The highlight of the campaign is the annual World Judiciary Summits and the International Conferences of Chief Justices of the World in which 484 Honorable Chief Justices, Judges and Heads of States from 103 countries of the world have participated since 2001. The 13th Annual Conference, the World Judiciary Summit will be held from 12 to 16 December 2012 at CMS Kanpur Road Campus, Lucknow. For more information please visit www.cmseducation.org/article51 and visit his website at: jagdishgandhiforworldhappiness.org