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How to create a better world has been the most abiding concern of thoughtful and caring people all through human history. Increasing commitment to justice, equality and peace appeared to several of these people as the most obvious way for achieving this. One way of achieving this related to improvement of human relationships and more compassion towards other forms of life. Those with greater wisdom also sought to weave these concerns into life-systems and guidelines which could be adopted more easily by a larger number of people.

In addition the increasing accumulation of knowledge and experience over the years enabled human beings, who are capable of great creativity and innovativeness, to improve their life in various ways.

On the reverse side there were always the perpetrators of wars, cruelty and injustice. They also made increasingly destructive use of the increasing knowledge and innovations of humanity which had been increasing over the generations.

Trends starting broadly in the 16th century were an important turning point as the advancement of technology made it possible to unleash destructive forces in such a way that entire countries and vast numbers of people could be colonized and this could be perpetuated over centuries. The yearnings for creating a better world now increasingly took the form of big freedom movements which could be sustained over several generations despite strong efforts to crush them.

The 20th century was another watershed in more ways than one as oppressive colonial forces clashed more with each other in their never-ending quest for dominance, in the process also creating conditions for several liberation efforts to succeed. A new clash emerged between capitalist and communist systems, but in different times and places, both systems were associated with very high levels of distress and disruptions. As the capitalist system appeared to be emerge as the winner towards the end of the century, and used this opportunity to spread itself in more aggressive and globalized forms, the distress and disruptions suffered by millions of people all over the world were aggravated in serious ways. Some of the gains made by liberation, democracy and social movements were rolled back. Many countries were destroyed badly one after another, bombed relentlessly or handed over to dictators or militias.

However the most worrying new phenomenon which appeared in the 20th century, and got aggravated in the 21st, was that grave threats emerged to basic life-support systems of the planet in the form of several very serious, inter-related environmental problems, led by climate change as well as nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

Hence for those who seek a better and safer world the task ahead in the 21st century is significantly different from most of the earlier history. They must continue to work for justice and equality of course, but in addition they have the unique now or never responsibility of protecting the life nurturing conditions before these are further damaged beyond redemption.

Those in the world who understand the seriousness of the situation have to get together with great seriousness of purpose and, leaving aside all narrow considerations, work with unity towards the most important objectives, integrating them in a common plan of action so that the most important tasks tend to be supportive of each other.

Briefly, we may say that we have to work together to protect the life-nurturing conditions of earth and check all threats to them, within an agenda of growing co-operation, peace, disarmament, a no-war future, democracy, protection of environment and all forms of life, justice and equality.

In the new conditions, several old debates have become redundant and we simply have to work for the future of earth on the basis of peace, disarmament, no more wars, environment protection, compassion to all forms of life, democracy, decentralization, justice, equality, non-discrimination (including gender justice) and growing cooperation of people all over the world for this, with special emphasis on the co-operation of those thoughtful persons who understand these issues very well. In this way, moving forward together, people with such understanding, by increasing their numbers as well as acquiring the capacity to influence policy, can still protect earth and ensure a safer, happier future to upcoming generations all over the world. A big break with all narrow considerations is needed to achieve this, and this is something all people and leaders owe to future generations, to their children and grandchildren, or the children and grandchildren of their closest friends, in fact to all children.

The next decade is going to be the most important decade for such efforts– as threats to life nurturing conditions have already become very serious, urgent and adequate actions are needed very soon in this context. This understanding has been the motivation behind a campaign initiated by this writer to declare the next decade as Save the Earth Dacade (SED), and a petition endorsed by several eminent persons regarding this has also been sent to the United Nations. Such a worldwide declaration can be particularly helpful to the young (using educational programs in schools and colleges around such a protective program) to link up more closely with the pressing protective needs of our planet. This can be seen as a very small yet significant step, along with several steps that are needed, to create conditions in which the younger generation grows up during the next decade with much better access to information and understanding on resolving the survival crisis within a framework of peace, justice and democracy, and with much higher motivation and space for this.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include ‘Planet in Peril’, ‘A Day in 2071’ and ‘Protecting Earth for Children.’


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