Our World Today and Tomorrow

Here is a video of a lecture by Paul to economics students at University of British Columbia about the outlook for the next 100 years

 

The future of our world will depend on whether the Citizens of the Earth manage to achieve global consciousness and awareness. That means a loyalty to our entire planet that is stronger than national loyalties.

If we fully realize that whatever we do greatly affects people on other continents; and that their actions equally impact us hugely; then perhaps finally our world will learn to live in global peace.

The forces of unbridled nationalism have caused every destructive war, such as World War I and World War II, plus many other wars.  Even in peacetime, we spend so much money on military capability that there is insufficient money to improve health care, retirement pensions, and other social programs.

I am not proposing any new form of world government or another kind of passport. The United Nations, IMF, and G20 are working quite adequately to ensure global cooperation, without any additional agencies to tax and control our lives further.

I believe that local governments at city and regional levels should be encouraged more than national programs and expenditures.

We should  honour local culture and history everywhere on earth. These are immensely valuable to all of us.  Global citizenship should never wipe out our local community traditions.

Opportunities for Individuals

What I fervently hope is that the current trend of greater peace and good will will continue. Individuals can accomplish much by traveling abroad and forming friendships with people from distant lands.

With all the forms of communication available, such as email, Skype and cheap international phone calls, we can stay in touch with people in other countries and build up the fabric of greater understanding. This is as important as any action by governments and international agencies

Global Progress since World War II

Few of us are historians or global economists.  Yet we all know the world has changed dramatically in the past 100 years. Never before in the 40 centuries of recorded history has the world changed so much and so quickly!

Some of us despair at the incredible speed of developments, which seem out of control.  We wonder if malignant forces will soon destroy civilization as we know it.

Others believe that technology and science will soon cure most of our ills — perhaps even allow us to extend our lifetimes indefinitely.

I am a mild optimist.  I see the general course of world history bringing us to a better place, but not without huge tragedies along the way.  Take for instance the two world wars in the past century. They destroyed more, killed more, than anytime in history. It seemed for a time that insane, tyrannical powers would rule the world.

However, by contrast, the past 60 years have seen a Golden Age, the most dramatic improvement in life on our planet ever recorded.

I believe humanity has progressed and will continue to progress in the centuries ahead. We will overcome the great challenges to become a more humane global society.

But that progress will depend on us.

Commitment to higher ideals is crucial

Many people to think our traditional way of life is breaking down — they are quite right!

Never before have our values and lifestyles been altered so fast by the immensely changing circumstances of our daily lives. It is critical for us to look back to former generations in our families and cultures to get a sense of how rapid the change has become.

We all know that smart phones and jet planes now allow us to travel anywhere and to communicate with anyone on the planet in seconds. The 200 generations before us changed so slowly that it was hard to notice.  Now in 3 generations, our world has been utterly transformed.

Extraordinary improvements in health care have lengthened our lives dramatically.  Our great grand parents were lucky to reach 60 if they didn’t die in infancy. Now one in three babies live to be 100 years old.

While there has never before been so much potential for progress, yet there has been been a higher probability to get it all wrong, so that we could destroy ourselves, and go back to becoming cave dwellers.

The critical fabric that holds us all together as a peaceful society is our system of values, our worldview, and our faith.

Our ancestors had strong spiritual beliefs. But now, we are being thrown together with people from other continents with quite different religious and cultural backgrounds.

For me, it is obvious that we need to hold onto two crucial beliefs:

  • We were created by a far higher power, who is still working actively to transform the globe;
  • Our job is to look after ourselves; and also to love and honour our neighbors, who come from quite different cultures from our own.

Future progress will depend on whether we get these two matters right.

There are other schools of thought that suggest quite different beliefs and behavior. Some say humans are the highest beings ever seen in the universe — that there is no God above us.  That kind of thinking leads to tyranny, of concentration of wealth and power.  It would take us back to an earlier stage of human history, where daily conflict was inevitable.  The strongest ruled, entirely for their own benefit.

The teaching of Jesus, by contrast, suggests the we look after ourselves and our families — and care for all others that we meet, whether stranger, neighbor, or perceived enemy.

I am an optimist in believing that God can bring us through this blinding transformation to a far better human society.  We get a vote — God does not impose solutions that we do not endorse.