Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Monday, 23 July 2007
Monday, 23 July 2007 19:52

Four Overriding Global Concerns

Cultural Diversity, Sustainable Development, Awareness and Responsibility.

In ancient times when people were few, they had to fend for themselves. Survival of one’s immediate family was one’s only concern. Then as external threats multiplied it became expedient for friends and neighbors to join together for mutual support and protection. This led to the formation of clans, tribes and ultimately nations and empires. These clans, tribes and nations were initially held together by common language, common concerns and cultural identity. The bonds between them were strongest when they were unified against belligerent foes. They were weakest in times of peace when everyone’s sole concern was his or her own family and business, which usually led to greed and corruption, selfishness and immorality and ultimately dissolution and defeat. A new nation or empire would arise which now had a new mix of cultural diversity, that of the vanquished joined to that of the conquerors. Eventually each would assimilate the other or they would develop separately in an uneasy truce.

In any case, the world is now blessed with an abundance of races, nations, languages, cultures, religions, political persuasions, and economic systems, in such a way that in almost every region they are intermingled side by side in competition for dominance or just struggling for survival.

Since this is so, one of the overriding global problems of the present day is how to create one world out of many without eliminating any, that is, not how to eliminate or subjugate the various minorities or how to create some new hybrid society, but how to preserve and protect each cultural heritage in the gardens of diversity through mutual respect and interaction and common destiny.

Cultural diversity is not the world’s only concern. Whether personal, tribal, or national, the aim has always been to protect what one possesses and to take what one needs. In times of an abundance of resources this creates no problem at all. One simply grabs what one wants whenever one wants and throws it away whenever it is no longer useful.

Ordinarily there doesn’t seem to be any pressing need to consider the consequences of what one does, especially those that are still far off in a distant future. But nowadays it is becoming more and more evident that the natural resources of materials, minerals and food supplies are quite limited and in some cases nearly exhausted. Furthermore, the indiscriminant disposal of trash and the byproducts of industrialization being pumped into the atmosphere or emptied into rivers or dumped onto or into the ground are polluting the environment, affecting the weather and endangering health. Not only this, it turns out that many of the things we eat are responsible for cancer, calories, and cholesterol, all of which can shorten our lives to say nothing of the smoking, lack of sufficient exercise and improper nutritional balance that also constitute serious threats to our health and well-being.

Thus there is a second overriding global concern of the present day, namely, the exponentially increasing challenges of managing the world’s limited resources, preventing pollution to the environment, and adopting healthier life styles.

It does little good for scientists to expose impending dangers, if no one pays any attention to what they are saying. It is futile for experts to point out solutions, if governments are reluctant to pay for them or hesitate to face the sacrifices that must be made. It is extremely difficult to convince anyone to change the way he or she lives if they aren’t convinced that change is necessary or they would rather take their chances than give up anything or they simply feel that it is not their responsibility.

Thus there is a third overriding global concern of the present day: how to get everyone to see the seriousness of the problems and convince them of their personal responsibility to do their part in prevention and restoration. Until there is a universal cry for help and a universal commitment to action, there is little hope that there will be any significant global reduction of waste and pollution.

This can only come about through two levels of leadership:

1. Strong charismatic leaders at the top whose message and inspiration effectively fire up the government and mobilize the masses;
2. charismatic concerned leaders at the bottom who stir up the masses to demand action and direction from the top.

Both of these efforts are paying off. Some governments more than others are taking steps to preserve dwindling resources and eliminate areas of pollution. In many places the masses are responding to calls for less smoking and better diets and willingly participate in recycling and the use of biodegradable products, etc. But so far these are mainly cosmetic and relatively inexpensive measures. In the matters of global warning, industrial pollution and developing alternate sources of energy there is often little agreement about what to do; there is resistance to change or loss of revenue; there is lack of effective international cooperation and unified effort.

Thus there is a fourth overriding global concern of the present day: how to reach a common consensus about what to do, how to attain international agreement and commitment, how to get national and multinational corporations to sacrifice some of their present profits to make the radical changes necessary to assure future pollution-free, resource-friendly products.

Where do I as an ordinary citizen fit into this picture? As I see it I do have some responsibilities:
1. I should be aware of these problems and keep abreast of current information;
2. I should willingly participate in all public projects such as re-cycling, litter removal, etc.
3. I should see to it that I and those for whom I am responsible use biodegradable materials whenever possible, protect and preserve our own environment, buy and use whenever we can only products that are the least polluting, maintain proper nutritionally balanced healthy diets and exercise, etc.
4. I should vote responsibly and make my concerns and convictions known to those who make and regulate public policies.

If every neighbor cleaned up his or her own yard, the neighborhood would be clean. If every industry reformed itself, the whole city or nation would be transformed. If every nation accepted full responsibility for cleaning up its own air, preserving its own resources and protecting its own environment, the whole globe would benefit. Only if every citizen does his or her part can the nation do fully its part.


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