Book Review

By Lisa Shetler
Transition to a Global Society, Suheil Bushrui, Iraj Ayman, and Ervin Laszlo, eds; Oneworld Publications, Oxford, England, 1993, 176 pages, ISBN 1-85168-039-x, paper, $12.95.

As we approach the year 2000, worldwide socio-political changes, as well as sophisticated information technology, are moving us toward transcending traditional nationalistic boundaries. This compelling collection of essays, drawn from the "First International Dialogue on the Transition to a Global Society" hosted by the Landegg Academy in Switzerland in September 1990, remains a thought-provoking resource on this trend.

Federico Mayor, Director-General of UNESCO, launched the conference by examining the role of the United Nations in the restructuring of society in the new millennium:

The fact that almost forty-five years ago, the victorious allies of World War II created an international organization dedicated to things of the mind and the spirit should be seen as an early attempt by the public sector to transcend its limits. UNESCO's constitutional commitment to create the defenses of peace in the human mind by working for co-operation among public and private institutions reflects a vision that may only be within our grasp today. . . . Linking the world of ideas and the world of decisions was seen as an essential foundation for building a peaceful and dynamic world community. — p. 8

He predicted that unifying holistic approaches will become more widely used to create dynamic relationships between disciplines in science, technology, social sciences, and the arts. A network of advanced communication systems will support these new ways of learning by allowing individuals quick, efficient access to knowledge, and by facilitating dialogue on a global scale. The rapidly increasing use of the Internet is one example of this trend.

In his essay, "Perspectives, Purposes and Brotherhood: A Spiritual Framework for a Global Society," John Huddleston points out that establishing a truly global perspective requires avoiding restrictive entanglements with local partisan and parochial interests. A new style of "collective" government could reach decisions at local, national, and international levels by a process of consultation rather than by debate. Huddleston aligns the consultation process with the spiritual dimension of the emerging world order because it takes competitive self-interest out of the picture:

The process of consultation differs from democratic debate insofar as it aims to arrive at the truth through unity and a scientific process rather than through conflict and appeal to self-interest. This process involves both detachment and universal participation. It is akin in many ways to current ideas on conflict resolution. — p. 149

Of equal importance is creative discovery as a way of inspiring global unity through the arts. Author and poet Kathleen Raine suggests that the arts can help us to continue to address the eternal question "What is Man?" (see following article). Indeed, as we attempt to define and redefine ourselves through the creative process and the restructuring of our concepts of education, science, technology, and government, the nature of our questions changes as well. We no longer seem as concerned with state or sect, party or profession. Instead we look within to find the intangible truths that are, ironically, the most solid building blocks of a global society.

Transition to a Global Society concludes with a reference to an ancient Indian myth about Siva killing a terrifying demon, from whom Atman or eternal self then emerges. The lesson is that, despite our apparent material selves, there is an immortal self in all beings which is the basis for human ethics and the nurturing of a higher kind of consciousness. — Lisa Shetler


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A New Etymology of Imagination
The word imagination can be separated into i-magi-nation. The i in this case means "in," as in in-ward, there-in, with-in. Magi (members of a priestly class) is the root of the word magic, short for magic arts — the "Divine Arts of Imagination," says the hoary Magicon William Blake. And finally nation means "to bring forth," "to give birth to" derived from "nature" and the Latin natus which means "born."
Hence a definition of imagination for the 21st century could be: "In magic all ideas, things, and entities are brought forth into the nations of this world." — Wynn Wolfe