The idea of a great circle around the world, with people of all ages speaking and listening to one another … presenting an Annual Report on the State of Humanity … a fountain of joy and inspiration, confidence, strength and limitless creativity
People all over the Earth are gradually awakening to the most astounding aspects of human beings — that we are not only parts of the mysterious universe, we are embodiments of the whole cosmos, each of us absolutely original and unique but limitless in our capacity. We are finite individuals and yet we will affect everything that happens in the future.
In this century the discoveries of the human mind — the release of nuclear energy and other revelations — have brought us to the brink of annihilation. In the same century, we have demonstrated enormous cruelty and enormous compassion. We have created a global communications system in which human beings reach out to one another across all boundaries of time and space. Ideas flash around the world, reshaping old institutions and bringing new ones into existence and rapid growth.
To serve the global community now arising through the individual efforts of people all over the planet, I believe there will be a great opportunity for the fostering and celebration of human creativity through a Center for Humanity’s Future. I advocate the formation of such a Center as a statement of confidence in the tremendous productive capacities of human beings — as a place of light and listening, a place of exploration and encouragement, a launching pad for ideas from throughout the world.
That Center could have the bold spirit that marked the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, which blazed across the world’s horizons from 1959 to 1981 with the many projects it launched from its headquarters in Santa Barbara. It helped to prevent a war between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was a pioneer in the environmental movement. It called attention to the destructive potentialities of television. It published a model for a new American Constitution, designed to protect human liberties and to indicate human responsibilities in the future. It brought together thousands of people in dialogues and conferences in Santa Barbara, Chicago, New York, Washington, Malta, and Geneva. It became an “early warning system” for humanity.
The preamble for the proposed model for a new Constitution for the United States contained a declaration that it was designed “to welcome the future in good order.” In our time, we have become intensely concerned with “the future.” All organizations have “vision statements” and make plans for the next years, the next decades, the next century, or even longer.
Welcoming the future in good order should be one of the primary purposes of the new Center. For many people, the future has a menacing aspect — with imagined disasters and catastrophes rushing toward us. The Center could give a continuing emphasis to the positive possibilities, while recognizing the negative ones..
The Importance of Celebration
In the coming age, in which human beings will face more complex problems and more challenges than ever before, it will be essential to evoke the positive powers inherent in every person. That is why the proposed Center should be dedicated to celebration — to foster the release of everyone’s highest thoughts and emotional intelligence. Celebration means more than a never-ending party, or fun and games all year round, although it does include all the aspects of joy, because human beings are at their best when they are joyful, when they take delight in everything to which they are related in a mysterious unfolding universe.
A Center for Humanity’s Future could raise the banner of celebration over the whole Earth — bringing together people of all kinds in meetings and dialogues, honoring the fine work going on in many places by creative and compassionate persons, inviting everyone to open up and communicate in many languages through the Internet and other channels, lauding the value of cooperation, encouraging everyone to “welcome the future in good order.”
Overcoming the Power of Violence
In addition to honoring and promoting the positive potentialities of all human beings, the Center could explore and advocate every possible step to overcome the power of violence. With the existence of nuclear weapons and other instruments of mass destruction, the continuation of life on Earth is at stake. The costs of violence in the twentieth century have been colossal. Millions of lives have been destroyed in the countless wars which have occurred. The Holocaust revealed the destructive depths to which human beings could descend. The massacres in Africa, Yugoslavia, Asia, and elsewhere have been horrifying in their ferocity — the extermination of neighbors by neighbors, the tortures and slaughters of women, children and old people, have shown cruelties on a staggering scale.
One of the primary purposes of the Center could be to examine the strategies used in human efforts to reduce or eliminate violence. The admonitions of religious leaders, the development of severe punishments under strict laws, the therapeutic programs of psychologists, have not been very effective.
A six-point pledge developed by the United Nations Education and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) would be offered for consideration. The points are:
- Respect all life.
- Reject violence in all its forms, particularly violence directed at the most deprived and vulnerable people.
- Share with others, in a spirit of generosity.
- Listen to understand.
- Preserve the planet.
- Rediscover solidarity.
This pledge is based on the realization that everyone must take a personal share of responsibility for the future of humanity.
Widening Roles for Women in Shaping Humanity’s Future
The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions was almost exclusively a male enterprise, dominated by highly active men with elitist ideas of leadership. Only one woman was ever appointed to the scholarly circle — the Fellows — who ran the Center. The increasing activities of women in all fields certainly has crucial significance for the future of the human species. A Center dedicated to humanity’s future must give the widest scope to women, who now compose 52 percent of the world’s population. From its board of directors to its staff, such a Center must have women fully represented.
Since that Center will be continuously engaged in initiating, receiving, discussing, and promoting ideas for the benefit of humanity, women around the world will be continuously invited to take part in the life of the Center. There will be a place for everybody at the Center’s table. There will be a physical table, located in the Center’s headquarters in Santa Barbara— but the table will extend around the planet through the Internet and other methods of communication.
Hearing from People of All Ages: The Lifting of Every Voice
The idea of a great circle around the world, with people of all ages speaking and listening to one another, has seemed to be a fantasy — until our time, when it has become a reality. Human beings are now crossing all geographic boundaries easily and swiftly. The Center for Humanity’s Future would invite participants in all the dialogues already under way to comment on the principal topics offered by the Center for worldwide discussion. The first topics could be:
- Overcoming the power of violence, preventing a war and building a culture of peace;
- Awakening everyone to the primacy of individual persons in shaping the future;
- Recognizing the spiritual dimensions of every human being and encouraging spiritual growth;
- Reaffirming the necessity for protecting the environment and maintaining the earth as a flourishing home for all forms of life;
- Emphasizing the need for cooperation as an instrument for achieving the good of all;
- Exploring what it means to be human in the 21st Century; and
- Developing a Code of Human Responsibilities.
In the Center’s outreach to people of all ages, there could be a continuous reminder of the fact that every human being has an impact on the future and will have an influence felt for many generations.
Presenting an Annual Report on the State of Humanity — and a Global Celebration of Creativity
Each year, the Center could present an Annual Report on the State of Humanity, based on the ideas flowing into it and from it throughout the year. People everywhere might be asked to pledge their support for the international movement for the formation of a culture of peace and nonviolence.
The Center could also sponsor a global Celebration of Creativity, highlighting the marvelous achievements of women, men, children, people from all backgrounds. Artists of all kinds — musicians, dancers, singers, poets, mystics, doctors, healers, prophets, sculptors— could lead community celebrations which would be linked together around the world. It would recognize the creativity of everyone — and the connections of human beings with one another. It could be videotaped and used on television and the Internet to bring delight into the daily lives of people everywhere.
The Center itself could be a fountain of joy and inspiration — with its mission to foster hope and happiness and sing a great song as Beethoven did — a song of confidence in the strength and wide-ranging abilities of human beings, aware of their tremendous roles in a universe filled with limitless creativity.
*Frank K. Kelly is the senior vice president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Kelly is a former speech writer for President Truman and staff director of the U.S. Senate Majority Policy Committee. He served for 17 years as Vice President of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.
Thoughts On a Center for Humanity’s Future and the State of Humanity
by David Krieger President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
The Center for Humanity’s Future could be composed of Nobel Laureates and selected other world leaders in various fields, who would issue an Annual Report on the State of Humanity. These leaders would meet at least once a year to finalize the report, which could be released to the people of the world through the media and in the form of a book.
The purpose of the report would be to offer creative solutions for coping with the dangers humanity faces, and to inspire people to live with full human dignity and to be active participants in shaping a better future.
The Center for Humanity’s Future would have a full-time secretariat who would work throughout the year in preparing the State of Humanity Report and arranging meetings with leaders in many fields who would provide input to the Nobel Laureate group that would issue the report.
The Center for Humanity’s Future would operate through two existing non-profit organizations located in Santa Barbara, California: The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and La Casa de Maria Retreat Center.