the Piloting of
Democracy, Nonviolence, and the Piloting of Spaceship Earth
Glen T. Martin
IED Press, 2010
Civilization does not merely need reforming. Our problems are not local problems or technical matters that can be solved by piecemeal changes. Our problems as human beings are fundamental and go deep. They cannot be solved on the level on which we are currently living. They can only be addressed through growth to a higher level, through rebirth to a new attitude and a new way of being. We human beings must learn to govern our Spaceship Earth very soon or face the terrible and inevitable consequences. The simple act of awakening to a planetary perspective, based on honesty, integrity, and realism, will mean the triumph of civilization.
The quest to become civilized, to move from barbarism to a civilized world order, has all along been based on a faith that things can be better, that the highest dreams and ideals of our global historical heritage have not been illusions. We find within ourselves, as well as within history, rebirths, awakenings, illuminations, or moments of transformative growth. We will see in this book that there are many signs that today we are in the midst of a great, planetary awakening, an awakening that struggles with systemic repressive forces working to disintegrate its immense hope.
The success of this awakening to a new planetary maturity will mean the triumph of civilization. It will not mean a utopia that spells the end to human frailty, conflict, and illusion. But it will mean living with a reasonable degree of peace, justice, sustainability, and prosperity for the majority of persons on our planet. Today our planet is without a pilot, careening toward disaster, and is already a living disaster for the majority of its citizens and the other creatures with whom we share our planetary home. We can and must place people and institutions at the helm that will construct a decent world order and restore a future for the Earth.
We must not be seduced by the cheap and easy answers such as the reply: “that is human nature: human beings are inevitably greedy and selfish.” That we are not inevitably greedy and selfish, nor irrevocably violent and aggressive, has been clearly shown by a century of anthropology. A fundamental feature of human life is that we are in constant change, constant growth, constantly actualizing certain possibilities within us and minimizing others. The capacity to learn and grow characterizes one fundamental aspect of our universal human nature.
This truth is a great source of hope for us. We are not hard-wired into self-destruction as may appear from the many self-destructive behaviors and self-defeating institutions that we see about us in today’s world. We are capable of rebirth, both as individuals and as a species. This means growing rapidly to a new level of existence. It means actualization of some of the higher possibilities within us. We are capable of being reborn out of our childhood of parochial and partial self-identifications into the universality of our deeper selves and the unity of human civilization.
Recent anthropology also illuminates the dozens of ways in which we share a universal, genetically inherited human nature composed of innumerable abilities ranging from language, common patterns of cognition, common responses to social life, common reactions to our environment, common facial and bodily responses to situations, etc. (Brown 1991). Similarly, the sciences of linguistics and cognitive science for the past half century have demonstrated the universal features of the human language instinct and the universal patterns of thought and communication that it engenders (Pinker 1994). We share a universal human nature not hard wired into violence or greed but flexibly wired into creativity, growth, self-awareness and the capacity for universal recognition of one another and our common humanity.
Just as individual human beings are physically born with the potential for a rebirth embracing the true development or fulfillment of their deeper selves, so human civilization can be reborn into the fulfillment of its own higher potential. The possibility of this rebirth that can unite and govern our Spaceship Earth is the theme of this book. The book seeks to identify these possibilities – the ones that can save us from our present suicidal behaviors and institutions – and to show the simplest and most economical way into a redeemed future. Everything is ready, the technology, infrastructure, and communications are sufficient. The triumph of civilization is now up to us.
I recognize that the word “civilization has, in some respects, an unfortunate imperial history as in “the civilizational heirs of the Roman Empire,” or “the civilizing project of the Christian West.” However, in our contemporary world of globalized communications and globalized cultural awareness, the word can be correctly used to refer to our planetary civilization, its universal science, its emerging planetary culture, and its common heritage of wisdom derived from every great religion and traditional culture. This book attempts to describe what is common to all of us on this planet, which can form the basis for a truly planetary civilization.
The chapters below do not appeal to strange new doctrines or ideologies, although they do recognize that our current world disorder constitutes a dead-end for humanity and for civilization. They take things that we already know something about – our common humanity, democracy, nonviolence, common sense economics, good education, common abilities like language, or common institutions like nation-states – and show our potential for a rebirth that embraces all these facets of our existence. The triumph of civilization involves the actualization of the highest fruits of our common history, summed up in the concepts of “democracy” and “nonviolence” with all that these imply.
These chapters outline the simple steps necessary for a rebirth of civilization beyond the current suicidal problems of our day. These steps are the foundational elements of human civilization that must be actualized if the human project is to triumph in peace, sustainability, and harmony with our precious Earth. Most fundamentally, learning to govern our Earth requires that we embrace for ourselves and our institutions the discovered by twentieth-century science, a holism at the heart of both democracy and nonviolence.
I am not talking about an inevitable and primarily linear progress toward a transformed world order, but rather about our potential to be reborn on a higher level that I call planetary maturity. If we are to overcome the suicidal and self-destructive aspects of civilization, from the commodification of all existence to the national security state to the development of ever-more hideous weapons to our pervasive bigotries, ideologies, and idolatries, we will have to begin living as a species on a new, more mature, more holistic level of existence.
The New Holism of Our Time
Holism comprises the most fundamental understanding of our world order emerging from the twentieth-century revolutions in science. This holism can transform our entire way of thinking and living on the Earth. It can become the basis for a new ethics, a new metaphysics, and a new understanding of human social and political life. Yet these new understandings simply represent the fulfillment of civilizational fundamentals – like democracy – that go back to the ancient world. This paradigm shift in human thinking has not yet taken root in our ethical, social, or institutional life. We remain trapped in the older paradigms predicated on fragmentation and division. Our immense suicidal problems of the twenty-first century stem from this fragmentation.
Universally – in quantum theory, cosmology, ecology, systems theory, social science, and psychology – part and whole have come to be understood as inseparable from one another. The very meaning, structure, and function of the parts have become incomprehensible apart from the wholes within wholes (fields within fields) within which the parts are embedded and in terms of which their nature, evolution, and functioning must be understood. Yet our thinking remains mired in divisions, separations, and fragments that appear incommensurable with one another. The result is collective and personal egoism, war, conflict, economic exploitation, destruction of nature, and destruction of one another.
Science has revealed that at every level distinct entities, individuals, are part of an interrelated matrix of continua, fields that relate the individuals to one another in a multiplicity of ways and distinguish them as distinct individuals embedded within the fields. In other words, individuals are not only contradictory to one another in the sense that ‘a’ and ‘not a’ appear as logically mutually exclusive. They are simultaneously complimentary to one another as instances of a more encompassing set of universals or fields (Harris 2000a; Martin 2008: Ch. 3).
Holism means that we must enlarge our thinking to encompass the manifold of fields within which we are embedded. No longer is ‘a’ simply incommensurable with ‘not a.’ A clear view of reality requires that I discern the ways in which ‘not a’ is complementary to ‘a.’ The Other person is inseparable from the very possibility of my existence, since it is the fields within which we are embedded that make possible the existence of the Other and my existence. The Other does not contradict me in an irreconcilable manner, but becomes complementary to me as another essential part within a more encompassing whole.
The other person, indeed, remains a center of moral freedom that cannot be reduced to any scientific or behavioristic set of compulsions or bio-chemical reactions. The absolute dignity of the Other derives from this fact, as we shall see below. However, other persons and I interpenetrate and overlap in a vast multiplicity of ways that unify us as human beings within our common moral and civilizational project. Today, we have also realized that our common civilization project includes the precious Earth on which we dwell – its beauty, its ecological integrity, its fragile biosphere, and its proper, holistic governance.
In his book The Systems View of the World: A Holistic Vision for Our Time, systems theorist Ervin Lazlo calls this structure of our world “holarchy.” The holismof individuals flourishing within the fields that sustain and make possible their individual existence is reflected in a hierarchy of wholes within more encompassing wholes within still greater wholes from the sub-atomic level to the level of the cosmos. He writes:
Human beings are integral parts, not only of the holism of the cosmos and the ecosystem of the Earth, but of one human species and planetary society encompassing the Earth. However, in practice, just as we have not yet harmonized our civilization to the delicately balanced biosphere that sustains all life on our planet, so we have not harmonized our social life to the holism of planetary society. We remain trapped in systems of fragmentation that are destroying the biosphere and continue to destroy planetary society through war, patterns of exploitation, linguistic forms of deceit, organized violence, and perpetual conflict.
Fragmented systems and fragmented patterns of thought go hand in hand. The holistic view of the cosmos and human life emerging from twentieth-century science has not yet been assimilated into a paradigm shift of the ways that we think and organize our political, economic, and cultural lives. Laszlo says that holarchically organized systems are influenced from below, not determined from above. However, the influence is reciprocal in any truly holistic system, for in a true whole the parts function as integral elements in the functioning and maintenance of the system as a whole. The principle of wholeness structures the relationships among the parts, not diminishing individuality but rather actualizing a genuine individuality in which the complementary functioning of the parts integrates and maintains the integrity of the whole.
When applied to human life and ethics, thinkers who understand the principle of holism advocate linking our individual lives with all human beings, since our humanity, our oneness with all other persons, is inseparable from our uniqueness as individuals. Our ability to link our lives in this way means discovering our own fundamental humanity. As we become ever-more fully human, we begin to realize that nothing and no one separates me from the others. Our fragmented sense of self that defines itself in opposition to what it is not begins to give way to a deeper sense of self that lives from the universality of its own humanity. The higher potential of our self is progressively actualized. This process of actualization of what is universal within ourselves is affirmed by many leading psychologists and thinkers.
Psychologist Erich Fromm affirms that this “means a constant striving to develop one’s powers of life and reason to a point at which a new harmony with the world is attained; it means striving for humility, to see one’s identity with all beings, and to give up the illusion of a separate, indestructible ego” (1962: 156). Psychologist Robert J. Lifton writes “One moves toward becoming what the early Karl Marx called a ‘species-being,’ a fully human being. Once established, the species identification itself contributes to centering and grounding. In no way eliminated, prior identifications are, rather, brought into new alignment within a more inclusive sense of self” (1993: 231).
Holism ultimately means that I am part of what philosopher Eric Gutkind called “the human continuum,” that my individuality is inseparably linked to that continuum and emerges as a unique expression of it. It means discovering a new love for life and the world and the progressive diminishing of fear and hate. My individual life becomes ever-more meaningful and fulfilled to the extent that it contributes to the whole of humanity in creative, nonviolent, and democratic ways. Gutkind declares: “At bottom I am the ‘other.’ The more complete the ‘thou’ that I utter, the more fully will the ‘I’ be sounded in me. He who is opened and dedicated to every ‘thou’ is deathless” (1937: 46).
Similarly, psychologist and spiritual teacher Richard De Martino affirms that “to the degree to which I can rid myself of this filter and can experience my self as the universal man, that is, to the degree to which repressedness diminishes, I am in touch with the deepest sources within myself, and that means with all of humanity” (1960: 127). Spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti declares that “if you don’t know how your own mind works you cannot actually understand what society is, because your mind is part of society; it is society.... Your mind is humanity, and when you perceive this, you will have immense compassion” (1989: 83-86). For such spiritual teachers, careful attention to the workings of our own consciousness and our common human situation inevitably illuminate for me my identity with all humanity.
Mahatma Gandhi was also a holistic thinker who understood that each unique person is an expression of the whole, an expression of “Truth.” His fundamental principle of ethics and nonviolence was satyagraha, literally “clinging to Truth.” If we respect the uniqueness of each, instead of privileging our own differences that set us apart from the others, then the truth of the whole will begin to emerge. Our unity, our mutual participation within larger wholes, will begin to become clear to all concerned. We shall examine below some fundamental links between democracy, nonviolence, and holism.
Just as the process of spiritual awakening actualizes the holistic relationship already deep within, many philosophers see human reason as affirming this same universality and identity. Nineteenth-century philosopher John Stuart Mill asserts that our link with other persons is the basis of the universal principles of ethics: “This firm foundation is that of the social feelings of mankind—the desire to be in unity with our fellow creatures, which is already a powerful principle in human nature, and happily one of those which tend to become stronger, even without express inculcation, from the influences of advancing civilization…. Any condition, therefore, which is essential to a state of society becomes more and more an inseparable part of every person’s conception of the state of things which he is born into, and which is the destiny of a human being” (1957: 40).
In the Eighteenth Century, Immanuel Kant affirmed that “rational beings all stand under the law that each of them should treat himself and all others, never merely as a means, but always at the same time as an end in himself.... morality consists in the relation of all action to the making of laws whereby alone a kingdom of ends is possible” (1964: 100-101). The kingdom of ends as a command of morality, for Kant, means that each of us adopts moral law for ourselves with a view to a world in which every person treats every other as a unique and infinitely valuable “end in himself,” a world under universal moral laws in which everyone treats everyone else with unreserved respect and dignity . Individual moral reasoning inevitably links us with all others. Morality directly connects us with the holism of humanity. Following Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, developed this holism by embodying it concretely within the whole of society, showing the interrelation of part and whole at every level of society.
Out of the dozens of thinkers affirming holism since the twentieth-century, I will cite just two more. Throughout his long lifetime of philosophical output, John Dewey affirmed the inseparability of the individual and the community, ultimately the human community as a whole, as the matrix for freedom and the development of our individual potential. For Dewey, the concept of democracy itself simply “projects to their logical and practical limit forces inherent in human nature” (1963: 497). The democratic ideal is simply a projection of our common human potential beyond, for example, “the secondary and provisional character of national sovereignty” (1993:120). Dewey’s life work articulates the holism of humanity and its common ideal of an ever-greater actualization of our potential for free and open association with one another within the matrix of our planetary community.
Similarly, philosopher Errol E. Harris affirms that “in human self-awareness, the nisus to the whole has become conscious of itself, so the self, being apprised of its own desires and their aims, strives to organize them, in order to attain coherent wholeness, in which it can find complete self-satisfaction; that is, to make them mutually compatible, so as to remove the frustration inherent in internal conflict. It is this self-realization that determines the ultimate standard of value” (2000b: 251). The universal drive at the heart of the evolutionary process (its nisus), Harris states, operates in us (as it does everywhere) to promote wholeness, holism: the removal of internal and external conflict so that the individual person (or group or nation) and the human species can live at peace within a dynamic and diverse yet ordered whole. Its standard is reason, a reason discerning the holistic character of the world process and progressively conforming our lives and institutions in harmony with it. However, its dynamic includes an integration and harmonization of the whole person: thoughts, emotions, intuitions, customs, habits, and instincts.
Laszlo argues that because human beings are self-aware, goal-oriented creatures, all of our ends or purposes constitute value-oriented activity. Our highest value involves the fulfillment of our potential as individual human beings, to become what we are capable of being, which is not possible without the matrix of society and civilization of which we are inseparable parts. Holistic values, therefore, seek to actualize self-fulfillment within the empowering framework of the larger social wholes that encompass us and make our self-actualization possible. It follows that fragmented economic, political, and cultural institutions defeat or interfere with this process. All the above cited thinkers conclude that we must link our individual lives with universal humanity. Our individuality and our humanity become inseparable.
What kind of institutions would reflect this holism? The most basic answer is familiar yet strange to us: democracy, properly understood. That is my purpose in this book: to elucidate the deeper nature of democracy, and the democratic promise, which is also the promise of my own human potential. In the face of the immense terrors of our time, we need to understand the fragmentation of our thought and our outdated institutions. We must act to discover the holism within ourselves and how it might be reflected in holistic, nonviolent, and sustainable institutions. This book attempts to show in detail how planetary democracy embodies that holism. Planetary Democracy is the only way to effectively govern our Spaceship Earth.
The current, horrific global economic crisis is a consequence of fragmentation, of a lack of holism and democracy in our institutions. The patchwork attempts at solutions by the Obama administration and other national actors worldwide will inevitably result in failure. The current disastrous world order of poverty, misery, war, and violence is likewise a consequence of lack of holism and democracy. Our survival on this planet, along with the future of our children and other precious living creatures, depends on our ability to establish holistic institutions and holistic patterns of thought within the very near future.
We shall see that these insights form the foundation for rapidly moving to authentic planetary democracy, beyond the dogma of “sovereign nation-states,” independent of the rest of humanity. If we understand the holism affirmed by every twentieth-century science, and we simultaneously understand the fragmentation of our present modes of thinking and our cultural, political and economic institutions, we will comprehend the absolute imperative to establish planetary democracy as efficiently as possible. It is planetary democracy that provides the holistic framework for each human being to realize his or her potential to the maximum extent possible – by guaranteeing equal rights and equal freedom to everyone with a matrix of common social, political, and economic institutions. Planetary democracy embodies the holism that is necessary in three essential ways: for our survival on this planet, for the progress and fulfillment of the historical human project, and for our personal fulfillment as individuals.
In a manner similar to all natural systems, planetary democracy will function as a “holarchy.” Local communities interact democratically and economically, addressing local problems and issues within a federated world order. Larger regional social and political units (for, example, cantons of China pradesh of India, or states within the United States) also function democratically, dealing with regional problems and issues. Nations “holarchically” include these smaller units and are themselves included within the Earth Federation that addresses planetary problems and issues, again through democratic processes: through protection of the rights of individuals and the federated units within the system and through enforceable laws maximizing the equal freedom of each to develop his or her potential within a framework of the common good of the whole of humanity and our planetary ecosystem.
This describes in a very brief way the coming great transformation: the rebirth of human civilization that will either develop rapidly, signaling the happy survival and flourishing of the human historical project, or will happen not at all because the human project will have ended in major planetary disaster or possible extinction of our species. We will see below a number of ways in which democracy has been misunderstood as well as a number of ways that it has been manipulated to prevent its genuinely holistic potential from emerging. We also will come to understand that violence diminishes in our world to the extent that democracy is realized. We will see that democracy and nonviolence go hand and hand in any effective form of governance. Their actualization on Earth will mean the triumph of human civilization.
There are at least ten fundamental theses that this book defends and develops. I will list them here in the Introduction in the hopes that the reader understands that these ideas are developed, argued for, and elucidated at some length in the following chapters. As with many fundamental notions, I believe they appear more and more self-evident to those who reflect on them at great length and live with them in thought, action, and spiritual reflection over time. They comprise the necessary features for a rebirth of civilization. All ten are not only compatible with our deeper spiritual intuitions. They are also grounded in reason, and eminently defensible by reason.
However, initially they may appear naïve or unrealistic to those unfamiliar with the arguments and reflections that spell out their meaning and implications. That is the risk I am taking in this Introduction – that the reader will bear with me as these basic contentions are developed in the course of this book, and that the reader will take seriously the opportunities for further thought, reflection, and action provided by the citations, references, and quotations that permeate my arguments. I will not elaborate the arguments at this point, since that is the purpose of the book. However, the explicit statement of them may serve as an aid in understanding the discussions and reflections that follow. On any journey, it can be helpful to have a picture of the goal in mind even if this picture pales before the living reality experienced at the end of the quest.
All ten of these theses point to a growing understanding of ourselves and our human situation on the Earth and within the Cosmos. They serve as both conclusions to the arguments that follow and as premises of our coming planetary civilization. They hang together, I believe, and serve as a fundamental articulation of the coming great transformation to a holistic, sustainable Earth civilization. We shall see that the imperative for rebirth is emerging, not only from our moral lives, not only from our continuing spiritual development, and not only from developing human rational potential: it is emerging from virtually all the great scientific breakthroughs of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We have but to discern reality clearly and resolve to act on what we know to be true in order to unite our Spaceship Earth.
1. The concept and ideal of democracy includes and indicates the growing recognition of our common humanity with all that this implies. It reflects, as stated above, the paradigm shift to holism that has been the fundamental discovery of all the twentieth-century sciences. Democracy serves, therefore, as a moral ideal, an ideal of human association and our common social life reflecting the reality of this holism. It is clearly fundamental to the development of decent political and economic systems, as we shall see, but transcends these as a moral framework and an ideal envisioning a peaceful and just world order.
2. The promise of democracy includes the actualization of the potential of our common humanity, as well as that of our individual lives. This potential of our common humanity continues to develop and emerge out of the historical process, and out of our immense evolutionary journey since the great primal flaring forth of the Cosmos. As thoughtful, concerned human beings, we are called to enhance and encourage this process of development. Today, we are nearing a stage of planetary maturity that will transform our relations with ourselves and our world from fragmentation to holism.
3. The concept and ideal of democracy includes the locus and range of our fundamental moral or ethical values, including the so-called golden rule and fundamental human rights such as the rights to life, liberty, and security of person. The process of interaction with others under conditions of liberty develops our moral autonomy and ‘moral personality’ that reflects our essential dignity as human beings. Reflection on democracy, therefore, simultaneously involves reflection on what it means to be a human being and the moral implications of reason, freedom, and the human community.
4. Genuine democracy implies the substantial actualization of a nonviolent, just, and prosperous world order. Under a democratic constitution and democratic moral relationships, people respect majority rule, they agree to disagree and respect the rights of minorities, and they look for legitimate means by which to accommodate conflicting opinions in the interest of the common good. The only alternative to these nonviolent “rules of procedure” is the rule of the stronger and therefore the use or threat of violence. The concept and ideal of democracy is therefore intimately linked with the concept and ideal of nonviolence as this has been articulated in a large and dynamic contemporary literature.
5. Violence, war, injustice, and involuntary poverty derive from various forms of fragmentation and from plainly invalid assumptions concerning the incommensurability of peoples, nations, races, groups, individuals, etc. These horrible manifestations of our immaturity exist to the extent that we violate the democratic concept and ideal, which represents holism in human civilization. They derive as well from fragmented institutions that defeat the above three principles of majority-rule, respect for the nonviolent opinions and rights of minorities, and efforts to comprehend or accommodate conflicting opinions through dialogue and debate. We will investigate this problem at some length in the chapters that follow.
6. The development of our rational potential that is fundamental to the development of a democratic planetary civilization coincides with the development of our spiritual potential for love, compassion, kindness, and solidarity. Twentieth and twenty-first century psychology has demonstrated the immense as yet unrealized spiritual and rational potential within each of us and within the human species. The concept and ideal of democracy symbolizes the actualization of that potential, both in each of us as moral persons and within humanity in general. Spirituality and rationality are complementary aspects of our fundamental humanity, and actualizing genuine democracy will enable significant growth within each of these dimensions.
7. The three (traditionally accepted) basic elements of democracy – liberty, equality, and community – are integrally related and necessary to one another. The elucidation of each of these three concepts brings us back to the others and serves to clarify the meaning of the coming great transformation to a holistic Earth Civilization and planetary democracy. Liberty must be fundamental and absolutely essential. However, neither liberty nor democracy can exist without substantial economic and political equality, and neither liberty nor equality can exist without the vibrant matrix of a supporting community.
8. The democratic concept and ideal live at the heart of other fundamental human enterprises such as the educational enterprise (Chapter 3) and the economic enterprise (Chapter 7), and the enterprise to convert the world to institutions and attitudes of nonviolence (Chapters 7-10). Insofar as these enterprises are honest and authentic, they strive for actualization of the democratic ideal. Since democracy necessarily involves a conception of our potential for moral development, and serves as a moral framework for human life, it bears on all human relationships and enterprises, from education to economics to the institutions of war and violence.
9. Since democracy involves our common humanity, our most fundamental values, and our highest ideals, it can only be effectively and fully realized as planetary democracy. To understand the above premises clearly and deeply, I hope to show, is simultaneously to understand the necessity of planetary democracy and why it is important to work for the realization of planetary democracy as an integral component of the coming holistic, sustainable Earth civilization.
10. These basic conclusions (developed in the chapters that follow) live in contrast to a world that is seething in violence and immense suffering. In the pages below, we will see that the concept and ideal of democracy is not naïve or utopian in the slightest but rather serves as a living demand that we take the next fundamental step in human maturity. Both Albert Einstein and Carl Jung declared rightly that one cannot solve a problem from the same level within which the problem arises. The seemingly intractable problems of our time cannot be solved in terms of our present assumptions or institutions. We need a rebirth, the ascent to planetary maturity, within a very short time – for time is rapidly running out – as a host of thinkers, scientists, and spiritual leaders have begun to declare.
To see clearly the horror of our present world disorder with its relentless currents sweeping us toward planetary disaster is to also recognize what must be done. There are many signs today that human life is in the midst of a vast paradigm shift from fragmentation to a unity in diversity that protects us all under a universal community while enlivening our genuine diversity. World transformation is a very real possibility of our time. Vast, rapid changes in human consciousness have taken place several times in human history to date. We must continue to cultivate within ourselves reflective thought, conscience, creativity, and spirituality while simultaneously placing our lives in the service of a transformed world order. Governing Spaceship Earth demands nothing less.
That is the message of this book. Its descriptions and analyses of the violence, domination, exploitation, and horror of our world disorder are all in the service of the praxis of world transformation: our absolute need to unite our Spaceship Earth. We must understand clearly the deep perversity of our present world system if we are to transform our world into one in “harmony with nature’s laws of healthy growth and development.” In our day, philosophical reasoning takes on a supreme importance in the light of the threats to human existence that confront us.
Similarly, the following accounts of human spirituality, of the overcoming of relativism and skepticism, of educational praxis, of the relation of democracy with socialism, of the philosophy of nonviolence, and of the liberating ideas embedded within the Earth Constitution are all positive aspects of this praxis. Within the world in which we find ourselves, both authentic philosophy and spirituality are transformative activities. They both militate for the nonviolent transformation of our world disorder and for the institutional recognition of the integrity of the human person within a social and economic system that protects and enlivens that integrity. Everything is ready as we enter the third millennium. Millions around the globe now consider themselves planetary citizens. The dawn of the third millennium will cast its morning light on a rebirth of human civilization – a holistic, planetary civilization.
Our choice today is absolute. We no longer have the luxury of postponement. We can allow ourselves to be swept to disaster within the currents of history premised on nationalism, war, racism, bigotry, exploitation, or technocracy. Or we can foster a new Renaissance for the Earth, giving birth to our deeper human possibilities and premised on liberty, equality, and community for our entire planet. This Renaissance is right around the corner – easily available if we have but the political will to turn the corner from institutions premised on fragmentation to institutions of a holistic Earth civilization. We find ourselves at high noon – a time of absolute decision when the shadows of ambiguity have disappeared.
Planetary democracy constitutes our great human hope. From this new level of existence our seemingly intractable problems of war, hatred, fear, poverty, and environmental destruction become eminently solvable. From the level of planetary maturity our immense problems are not so much solved but dissolved. The coming generation will wonder at the horrors of the twentieth century (the world wars, the genocides, the weapons of mass destruction, the extremes of wealth and poverty) because they will have surpassed the causes of these horrors by actualizing our higher human potential for genuine democracy: for this will make possible a deep transformation of our lives across the spectrum of our problems.
However, the process of growth and institutional transformation will not happen automatically. We can choose either to do nothing and be swept toward our pending doom, possible extinction, and coming perdition, or we can choose to embrace the fullness of life, a fullness that is simultaneously democratic, rational, and spiritual. We can be swept to perdition as we duck beneath the storm to preserve our private security and selfish personal interests. Or we can embrace integrity of personhood for all human beings and precious natural environment that we share with the Earth’s other living creatures. We can and must choose to realize our higher human possibilities and to create a human and planetary renaissance for the twenty-first century.
The time is now and the choice is faced by each of us. Planetary democracy as the embodiment of planetary maturity constitutes our great human hope. The chapters in this book intend to help clarify the issues we face and deepen our understanding of how to facilitate the Renaissance of the Twenty-first Century, a renaissance that must necessarily include effective governance for the Earth. They intend to promote a deeper understanding of planetary democracy and human maturity as well as to activate transformative praxis – action giving birth to a new world order and to a more mature, fulfilled human life on our beautiful planet Earth.