This is the choice that humanity faces. It might sound a bit strange as a title because the first concept isn’t one that circulates widely in the public consciousness and the second concept is rather frightening; but this is the choice facing humanity.
Today’s world is not sustainable and is imposed by violence. This problem is the “elephant in the room” that the media doesn’t speak about and prefers to ignore but we cannot go on consuming the planet’s resources the way we are doing as a species. It won’t work. We would need 5 more planet Earths in order to bring all the planet’s inhabitants up to the same level of consumption as the world’s wealthiest.
Economists, businessmen and politicians, and in fact anyone who thinks even a little bit about this understands it. Yet the world continues the way it does.
Those in power continue with the same policies which promote consumption and because money has been installed as the most important value in society, the accumulation of money is the most important task for human beings to undertake. In this perverse system where money is more important than human life, some human beings are turned into objects by other human beings; objects that are there to serve the latter’s money-making goals.
In order to maintain this scale of values and this objectification of human beings, violence is used as a tool; from the more subtle forms of psychological and economic violence to a more blatant, physical violence. And violence in one form or other is being experienced by the entire population of the world, every day.
Incomprehensible statistics like 10% of the world’s population living on less than 2 dollars a day show the economic violence; dozens of on-going armed conflicts and annual deaths numbering in the hundreds of thousands show the most horrific physical violence, not to mention the tens of thousands of people who die in the USA every year because of gun violence.
Discrimination expressed as xenophobia, religious intolerance, racism, sexism, ageism and discrimination against people because of differences such as physical abilities, sexual orientation and gender identity, etc., shows the psychological violence that almost everyone on the planet experiences, everyone except Donald Trump apparently.
Is this really the world we want to live in? Is this really the maximum expression of human intelligence? Have we cured countless diseases only to be wiped out by wars, nuclear bombs and nuclear power plants going out of control? Surely not!?
If we would start again with a clean piece of paper and say “let’s design a new system,” how would it look like?
This is the question that deserves our attention today, because this is the blueprint that is required in order to guide us away from oblivion. This blueprint is the Universal Human Nation.
The concept appears with a name “Utopia” given to it by Sir Thomas More in his book of the same name in 1516 but more recently the concept was updated and renamed the Universal Human Nation by Silo, the Argentinean author and nonviolent activist who died in 2010.
In his 1993 essay “the Humanist Statement”, Silo outlines some characteristics of this utopian vision he promotes:
“Humanists are internationalists, aspiring to a Universal Human Nation. While understanding the world they live in as a single whole, humanists act in their immediate environments. Humanists seek not a uniform world, but a world of multiplicity: diverse in ethnicity, languages and customs; diverse in local and regional autonomy; diverse in ideas and aspirations; diverse in beliefs, whether atheist or religious; diverse in occupations and in creativity.
“Humanists do not want masters, they have no fondness for authority figures or bosses. Nor do they see themselves as representatives or bosses of anyone else. Humanists want neither a centralized state nor a para-state in its place. They want neither armed gangs nor a police state in their place.”
It must also be a world in which conflicts are resolved without resorting to violence in any form in order to achieve results. Clearly there will always be conflict, but it doesn’t have to be resolved with violence. This is the direction human evolution is taking us in.
So what are we going to put on our list of things to do in order to achieve this better world for all human beings?
Well fortunately we don’t have to start from an empty piece of paper because work has already been done and summarised in an excellent new book by another Argentinean author, Guillermo Sullings, “Crossroads and Future of the Human Being: the steps towards the Universal Human Nation” and having been written in Spanish is now being translated into English, French, Italian, German and Greek. I know this book is excellent because I’m translating it into English!
It is not a complete work, because the book containing all the steps to make the Universal Human Nation would be enormous, but it is a starting point for discussions and contains sections on:
a) Disarmament, b) The future of the United Nation, c) Global Development, d) the International financial system, e) Free Movement of people, f) Stopping the ecological disaster, g) The media, h) Human Rights, i) Real Democracy, j) Mixed Economics, and, k) Cultural Paradigms,
Sullings proposes that social movements and organisations working in all these fields, and others that are not included by name, should work together to define a bright and shining image; a mystical force with a strength greater than nationalism and patriotism; an internationalism; a love of humanity and human evolution; a spiritual awakening that puts human beings as the central value.
In this context, the Universal Human Nation is an image with an incredible power that we need to insert into the consciousness of every human being, from the youngest, especially the youngest, to the oldest in society; just as an environmental consciousness was installed in the younger generations in some parts of the world in a process that started over 40 years ago.
We need an image that creates a process that will develop policies that consider human wellbeing for the next 10,000 generations, not just the next 4 or 5 years of a politician’s mandate. And we don’t have 40 years though to design and implement this new plan.
Not since the darkest days of the Cold War have human beings been so close to nuclear oblivion. Proxy wars between the USA and Russia, economic crises and increasing intolerance and xenophobia across Europe recall the darkest times of the 1930s, pre-World War II, and we are heading for a repeat if we don’t stop it now.
The difference from the 1930s though is that today, the nuclear super powers have the strength to eliminate all forms of life on the planet and this could happen through accident or design.
2017 could be an excellent year to start working with all organisations in affinity with the ideals of a Universal Human Nation and create together the guiding image that will drive us forward and give us the strength of purpose we need to make it happen and converge in all our glorious diversity.
Surely Pressenza and all other humanists will be in the vanguard of all such efforts!