I had the privilege yesterday to attend (with an overflowing crowd of 1500 others) the last public speech by the very popular and powerful humanitarian UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, at S. Illinois University. I came to tears several times listening to his words and aware of the immense energy of attentiveness of the audience. This blog is not to summarize that speech, nor try to capture the amazing work and commitment of this great person of the 21st century, now having served his 10 year term at the UN in the top position of authority.
I wish to focus on one of the most powerful things I believe Ban Ki-moon said to us all. He has been saying it for a long time, and it is part of the UN unofficial mission. Paraphrasing Ban Ki-moon: Especially in regard to young people, now 50% of the world's population is under 25 years of age, it is time to put away nationality and nationalism as the highest value, and time to turn toward becoming a global citizen. We require a new sense of unity that we are all living on the planet earth as 'one' --as global citizens together. If we do not make this turn of identity and value toward such a global unity, we are sorely heading for the worst 'hell' on earth in human history. Climate change (global warming) must be solved together, with no boundaries.
I totally agree and salute this wisdom of Ban Ki-moon. Of course, it is not only his wisdom that has thought of this idea, but many many great thinkers and visionaries throughout history has more or less called us to such a task as well. I sat there and wrote notes, and asked myself: "Yes, to be a global citizen is a first shift of identity that is a great leap for many who cling to narrow-mindedness and nationalism identities. There is too many wars happening because of this nationalism at its worst levels, especially when it is fear-based, security-based, and will attack any 'Other' because it feels threatened."
It is an odd paradox I found in Ki-moon's speech, and in the UN mission, because there is both the UN position of keeping nations sovereign and not invaded by dominator nations. And, at the same time, he is asking us to abandon the boundaries and become 'one.' Of course, the latter, is a high ethical calling and one that just doesn't happen in reality because one calls themselves a global citizen, a global organization, or a global nation with all good intentions. More than good intentions is required. And then we have the problem that there will seemingly always be one or more such individuals, groups, organizations or nations that will resist this call for global unity to solve the world's problems and they fight against any such unity. Then what?
Yet, this is not what I wish to focus on in this blog. Conflict is definitely destroying this planet, and no one is as informed as Ban Ki-moon on global conflicts and horrors going on today, and ever since he took office in 2007 at the UN. He said, "I have served during a decade of turmoil.... conflicts are growing more protracted" globally and putting the whole world into great danger, with massive immigration of refugees and starvation, disease, crop failures as only mentionable among so many other global crises we could name. He concluded, "big fires are still burning."
Now, to my point, re: conflicts ("big fires")... and letting go of nationalism, ethnocentricism, group chauvinism, racism, regionalism, religionism and ideologism behind them, to become unified as global citizens. What Ban Ki-moon did not talk about, and I would have liked to seen talked about, is how to foster the essential shift to a new awareness or consciousness required today to solve the worst global crises. It is a shift to a "world perspective" by any other name. Today, I am reading again, a favorite short essay (Epilogue: What World Perspectives Means" by Ruth Nanda Anshen, c. 1963). This essay shows up in some 30 volumes that were written and published in the early 1960s under the name World Perspectives Series, planned and edited (with others) by Ruth Nanda Anshen. This Epilogue she wrote I have seen every time I buy a copy from that series, and today it happens to be a book by Erich Fromm on Sigmund Freud (1963). Anshen writes of the series purpose, as it sought to bring together the most powerful critical minds of philosophers, scientists, and spiritual thinkers of the time (East and West):
" This volume is part of a plan to present short books in a variety of fields by the most responsible of contemporary thinkers. The purpose is to reveal basic new trends in modern civilization, to interpret the creative forces at work in the East as well as in the West, and to point to the new [holistic] consciousness which can contribute to a deeper understainding of the interrelation of [hu]man and the universe, the individual and society, and of the values shared by all people.... This [time] is the crisis in consciousness.... This is the new awakening.... Knowledge, it is shown in these volumes, no longer consists in a manipulation of [hu]man and nature as opposing forces, nor in the reduction of data to statistical order, but is a means of liberating mankind from the destructive power of fear.... it is the thesis of this Series that [hu]man is in the process of developing a new awareness which, in spite of his [her] apparent spiritual and moral captivity, can eventually lift the human race above and beyond the fear, ignorance, and brutality and isolation which beset it today. It is to this nascent consciousness, to this concept of [hu]man born out of a fresh [holistic] vision of reality, that World Perspectives is dedicated." (pp. 126-9) [bold added for emphasis]
I have taken only a small slice of this essay, and pulled out the important points Anshen makes about knowledge and fear, and the purpose of research, thinking, education in the world. I am astounded how she describes the world in the early 1960s and its imperilment of crises pending, as one feels like this is written for the 21st century. Let me close this blog for you to reflect on, and what it means to take on a "world perspective" as Anshen articulates so well. Yet, even she does not go far enough, as I see it. We have to move as a world, differentiated and developmentally distinctly, into a certain small percentage of people chosing to become global citizens, and adopting somewhat a world perspective on life and reality and their values and actions.
Emerging into Worldcentric Consciousness and Research on the Spirit of Fearlessness
Clearly, as I see it anyways, Anshen and Ki-moon are talking about a shift in consciousness from a fear-based cosmology/worldview to one of fearlessness-based or some call love-based.
Holistic unity is great, but for humans, and cultures, this evolves and develops, it is not something just decided upon and then works at the level of world perspective consciousness, or what Ken Wilber calls worldcentric consciousness, and then beyond that to the even more advanced stage of kosmocentric consciousness. I will not detail this spectrum evolutionary theory of Wilber's (called "Integral theory")... but to suggest it is better (more advanced) than holistic theories of unification and has to be looked at seriously. I have argued, elsewhere in my work, that the creative spirit is many things, even mysterious, yet, there is tremendous knowledge to be yet synthesized on how the spirit of fearlessness is core to the Defense Intelligence system of all organisms, at all levels (see my book The World's Fearlessness Teachings, 2010). The Fearlessness Movement ning is a dedication to thinking, ideas, people who are interested and moving toward a worldcentric consciousness that interprets the creative spirit of the universe really... as a spirit of fearlessness (at least, in terms of organism systems). This will give the structure and processes some reality when one utters terms like "global citizen" and/or "world perspective." We have a lot of work to do.
For another perspective on this talk see my partner Barbara Bickel's blog post