4. The communal dilemma

The word ‘crisis’ used in Page 2 is double sided – it can mean doom or opportunity.   Page 2 reflects on crisis as doom.   But what about crisis as opportunity?

Never has the world been as wealthy, well-educated, healthy or closely connected as in our generation.   Despite ongoing wars and violence and the challenges posed by such things as climate change and a global population explosion, the opportunities offered to those of us living in the twenty-first century would have been mind-blowing only a few generations ago.

So why can’t we make a better fist of creating one world – a global community of communities?    Simply because it’s a very tough task.   We may be on the way, but progress is painfully slow.

Trade and the market have forced us to become an economically globalized world – yet we remain captive to the culture, class or creed into which we were socialized.   Technology has accelerated and widened mobility beyond all imagination – yet we still choose our friends from those who are culturally similar to us.   Despite all the opportunities to widen our horizons and broaden our experience, the default position is to play safe, to stay within our comfort zones and fend off those who might disturb our way of life.    Hence Brexit and the UK’s increasingly hostile response to immigration – mirrored in many other countries from Australia to the USA.

So we face ‘the communal dilemma’ – the problem all human collectives face when challenged to become increasingly open to one another without undermining or weakening their own sense of community or that of others.

Unfortunately the fourth S – socialization – works against us solving the communal dilemma.   What was necessary for our survival when young for us as adults now fosters an ‘island mentality’.   The social reality is that we remain captive to a ‘little England’ outlook and – through nostalgia, fear or selfishness – screen out any wider European, let alone genuine global vision.   Thus if the imperative now facing humankind is the task of creating a global community of communities, it has to be powered by a vision founded on a different kind of Reality.

February 2017