Tuesday, January 1, 2013
In the Spirit of Cautious Optimism
We find ourselves at the beginning of another year. Although the news we are constantly subjected to regarding the state of human affairs around the globe gives us cause to be pessimistic about prospects for the future viability of the species, there are also trends that may suggest a different future. I have come to this conclusion not out of unfounded optimism or purely wishful thinking but rather out of the realization that there lies an insatiable hunger within the vast majority of the world’s people for a more peaceful world grounded in true human equality and social justice.
The desire to satiate this longing is evidenced by the multitude of voices around the globe that are not only insisting upon changes in the status quo but also actively pursuing paths towards the peaceful transition to a sane and viable future. These voices are everywhere, and cannot be silenced. This conclusion can be readily verified by simply searching the Internet for those organizations built upon the premise of creating the conditions for a more peaceful and equitable world. Such organizations focus their attention on human rights abuses and the often intolerable conditions that are the daily reality of hundreds of millions of individuals; these kinds of organizations literally stretch around the globe and are often deeply intertwined.
It might be argued that there are also very powerful forces of oppression focused on limiting human freedom and social justice for personal advantage. In addition, these forces often use overt violence and aggression as the means to maintain the status quo. This is no doubt true; however, this point of view is not sustainable over the long term. It is not counter-violence that will subdue them; it is the power of ideas embedded with the bedrock of social harmony and universal justice that will ultimately prevail. As we have seen in the history of many civil rights movements, true and viable social progress is a painstakingly slow endeavor – the struggle for women’s suffrage, the abolition of slavery in the United States and the demolition of Apartheid in South Africa are excellent examples.
In my judgment, the lesson here is not to give up hope and yield to despair – as enticing as that might seem at times – but to persist in the ongoing struggle for sanity in this exasperatingly human world. There are many ways to contribute to the interdependent causes of peace and social justice. May the beginning of a new year bring inspiration, hope and renewal to us all.