The course of human
history is instigated by many factors, perceived and unperceived, gradual and
sudden, tangible and intangible too. Thus, the rise of the Buddha,
the Christ, or the Prophet Mohammed were among the perceived factors,
while the impact of certain viruses and microbes on the course of human history
were never perceived as such. The impact of the Copernican-Galilean science was
gradual, that of the French Revolution was sudden. The onset of the computer is
a tangible factor, while that of the Human Rights concept is an intangible one.
when we forge visions about the Future, we can only be approximate in our
assessment. And while we may be well-intentioned and
enlightened in our planning,
there is no telling what the future holds.
know that with all its stupendous scientific breakthroughs and marvelous
technological achievements, the
20th century has also created horrendous problems,
pressing and potential. A population explosion in the face of diminishing oil reserves and mineral deposits,
environmental pollution through automobiles and industrial effluents, perilous
nuclear wastes, depletion of the rain forests: these are challenges of no mean
magnitude. Then there are social
and human problems, ranging from poverty and malnutrition to illiteracy and
though there is much to look forward to in terms of new technologies, increasing
economic opportunities, interplanetary adventures, and the promise of cure for
deadly diseases, we will be living in a foolís paradise if we are indifferent
to the problems that the human family will be facing in the impending decades.
to all this are simmering racial, religious, and economic divides, which, if not
bridged or abridged, could lead to explosions of immense proportions. In this
context, we must recognize forces within many societies that accentuate the
differences, perpetuating suspicions and hatred. They emerge sometimes from the
narrow conviction of the superiority of one's own group or subgroup, sometimes
from deep-rooted animosities engendered by centuries of oppression. There are
also idealistic efforts to counteract these by people who see no distinction
between one group and another, who preach that every difference is mere
illusion, that every prophet and preacher propounds the same message.
Well-motivated as this approach is, it is not likely to succeed if only because
this simply is not true. Finally, there is the path that is neither arrogantly
self-assertive nor naively all-inclusive, but is rather enrichingly pluralistic.
It recognizes multiplicity as
intrinsic to the human condition, and looks upon races and religions as a
rainbow in the sky: colorful, and majestic, beautiful by virtue of the harmony
in the hues. Enlightened pluralism celebrates diversity and arrests mutual hurt
that will ultimately not only save our species, but make it all the more
creative and resourceful in the decades to come.
possibilities are immense and unpredictable, for the good and for the bad: The
discovery of a new and limitless non-polluting energy source could bring about a
golden age of prosperity for all of humanity. The rise to power of a mindless
maniac with nuclear capabilities could unleash irrevocable devastation on our
species. Education and science
could free all humans from ignorance and superstition, but scarce resources
could deepen the chasm between the haves and the have-nots. Religious and racial
bigotry could fire simmering suspicions into horrendous conflagrations, or
perhaps the emergence of an
enlightened religious outlook would foster understanding and harmony among
differing faiths. Or again, the long and checkered course of human history could
be snuffed into a mere glitch in the planetís saga by the rude intrusion and blind fury of a stray asteroid lured
by earthís gravity. What awaits us in time, no on can tell. Not all the
factors that shape the future are within our ken or control.
these, let us join hands in our efforts to induce the positive and snub the
negative human potentials. Now, as
never before in human history, we feel we are all passengers in the only
space-ship we have. Fortified by the knowledge and power that come from the
sciences we may build on the finer values and wisdom of the ages, and make this
our planet an even more rewarding place to be.