6 Qualities Which the 21st Century Needs the Most in Humanity


The 21st century is the most important century in human history as humanity is called upon to respond adequately to the unprecedented challenge of checking human made very serious threats to the life-nurturing conditions of our planet. As the challenge is a huge one, this cannot be met in business as usual ways and humanity must change itself in very significant ways to meet this challenge. Here are six qualities which have always been desirable but will be needed more and more if humanity is to be able to resolve these existential problems within a framework of justice, peace and democracy.

  1. More and more people should accept a life of voluntary simplicity, a life based on need and not greed. All basic needs of all people should be met. As far as possible beyond this the small comforts which people enjoy most should also be met. However the craze for more and more luxury, for unlimited consumerism should stop. Those consumer goods which are known to be definitely harmful should as far as possible be reduced to the maximum extent with continuing efforts being made for this—goods such as tobacco, alcohol, other intoxicants, various highly toxic products unfortunately in common use, guns, bullets, etc. This will greatly decrease the burden on environment. In addition, by rescuing humanity from the biggest trap of always, all through life, trying to earn, accumulate and spend more and more, this change will make it more possible to devote time, effort and resources for contributing to the welfare of humanity and all forms of life and to resolving the most urgent problems of the planet.
  2. It is very important to improve social relationships at all level—in family, community, workplace, educational institutions. The available data in many contexts conveys a horrific idea of social disintegration and disruption at all levels, and in some contexts even this may be an underestimation of the actual state of affairs. This is an important factor that makes it difficult for people to make an important contribution to protecting and improving their world as a lot of time and effort is taken up in resolving these mostly avoidable problems, also imposing a lot of mental strain. On the other hand, in a world of vastly improved social relations, the relationships based on trust and affection, on mutual help and support, will provide the strength and the opportunities to people to make big contributions to creating a better and safer world.
  3. Related to this, the 21st century needs people to give much more time, attention and resources to helping others as without this it will be difficult for the most vulnerable people to survive some of the most difficult situations that are expected in the near future. We need a more compassionate and caring world, not a world in which the most powerful leaders stop providing aid to the worst suffering people when they need it most, as is currently happening in Gaza.
  4. More and more our deeply troubled world needs people who are at peace with themselves and with the world. The 21st century needs people who have a commitment to avoiding violence and minimizing violence at all levels, and instead try their best to use methods and ideas rooted in non-violence for resisting injustice and malpractices at various levels. This is excellent training in daily life for the wider causes of disarmament and for minimizing the possibilities of war.
  5. The 21st century people will need to be more and more involved in resolving local as well as global problems. The kind of society in which a large section of people are involved only or mainly in personal or family level issues will be less and less relevant. The cause of more and more people coming forward to contribute to resolving wider social issues will be helped by ensuring that the basic needs of all people are met in reasonably satisfactory ways so that they can devote more and more time to issues of peace and environment protection, and resolving the existential crisis linked to these issues.
  6. The 21st century will need more and more people with a strong sense of rational thinking and evidence-based approach so that the best possible approach to resolving increasingly complex problems can be found. It will be necessary to avoid various kinds of fundamentalisms, including various religious and ideological fundamentalisms, as well as other irrational thinking. Instead people should base the resolving of problems in rational and evidence-based ways.

A lot of efforts are needed at the level of communities (including families) and educational institutions to ensure the spread of such qualities but unfortunately this is not receiving the due attention at present.

These important qualities will not come on their own, a lot of efforts need to be made for this. Sadly this important task is not receiving the due attention in community, educational and other efforts.

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


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