Israel from space 4.
(photo credit: NASA/BARRY WILMORE)
Though it may not always seem so, our world today at the end of 2014 is still very much driven by the desire to change it for the better.
School children continue to grow up in a spirit of optimism, feeling that their lives matter and that they can make a difference as individuals shaping the planet into a better place. Adults, whether imperfect or self-centered, wish nevertheless to leave the world in a better state than they found it in.
As unabashedly materialistic and stingy some of us remain into old age, still we want to believe that our life’s work has had a positive impact on those around us. Today’s millionaire or tomorrow’s billionaire may all have charities and well-intentioned philanthropic aims, but even the most tight-fisted and ungenerous among us are not incapable of such altruism and magnanimity, even when it means making do with less. In these instances, even the most selfish of humans recognize that they are not alone as they labor. Their own material and financial success and overall happiness often necessitate having positive relationships with others, making sacrifices at times, and finding new and innovative ways to do things better than before.
When people seek to change themselves for the better in becoming more compassionate, selfless and decent, they become more aware of those around them and more evolved relative to those relationships; they try to modify or change those social behaviors that were harmful or prevented greater success. They may choose to smile more, for example, when they interact with others. They may begin to think about the feelings of others, engage them in the spirit of friendship, or go out of their way to show manners, thoughtfulness and consideration.
Where before they behaved narcissistically in terms of what they could obtain for themselves materially and otherwise, in a new and improved reality former narcissists no longer view others as secondary or tertiary beings. Neither are others objects of manipulation. The aim instead is to try to have equal respect for all, no? Indeed, the happier people intrinsically become in this vein, the more natural, less temporary and contrived such change is, right? Yet, if human beings cannot go far enough to love and embrace their enemies, certainly they can try to improve the fabric and quality of their own communities. We see evidence of local efforts to improve life quality taking place at present in societies across the globe. Even the criminally minded, with no respect for law and order, have communities for whose life quality improvement is sought, if only to better the lot of specific gangs or groups of other criminals in those locales.
To be deprived of the ability to improve human life and life quality in any setting is a lethal threat aimed at the will to live and the life-force at work in that given environment.
Are efforts underway in our world today in 2014 to create such a zombie- like, dystopian reality on an international, global scale? No, at the end of 2014 the planet is not threatened by Orwellian monsters. The world instead sits in the throes of turbulent forces seeking to reshape it.
Humanity since the latter half of the 20th century has been steadfastly building a global, technological machine on a scale never seen before in history. Globalization, its progeny, has been long at war with the forces of radicalism and neo-fascism. All ironically are beneficiaries of the Information Age and its power to shape hearts and minds. As conflicts continue to unfold into 2015 and beyond, there will undoubtedly be justifications of wanting to improve the world, followed by ever more grandiose online citations of progress.
Is the world a big enough place for globalization, radicalism and fascism to coexist peacefully? Ultimately no, I’m afraid. There is no place and shall be no course for peaceful co-existence until each side involved in the conflict re-examines the narrative of how and why it seeks to make the world a better place. To do so would entail radicals and neo-fascists letting go of tribal thinking and embracing or at least being more open to globalist precepts such as inclusiveness and multiculturalism. Proponents of globalism, too, would have to work harder at changing their own narrative, attempting to understand the ramifications of having had a myopic world-view that glosses over people’s differences; it would entail gaining more sensitivity on the core economic, religious and cultural issues and differences that have spearheaded the conflict. For the planet to become truly harmonious, compromise and being better human beings in the process is a prerequisite. Sadly, much more blood will continue to be spilled in the years ahead before there is any lasting peace.The writer is a university instructor in information, media, and communication at the University of Applied Sciences in Eisenstadt, Austria. He also works as an independent journalist.