The World Today

Despite spectacular technological and scientific progress, humanity and nation states have, in the main, not been able to end cruelty, injustice, violence, brutality and killings. The world today does not, on the whole, display tolerance, harmony and justice.
In fact, the untrammelled use of technology for evil purposes and violence is a hallmark of the present era. Despite many magnificent achievements, our modern times have been amongst the most dreadful and fanatic in human history.
No doubt there has been the salutary introduction of the rule of law, cognisance of human rights and the prevalence of constitutional democracy in many areas of the world. But these trends have not been unchequered. The world today is torn with strife, bloodshed and terrorism.
Mankind is increasingly polluting the earth’s air, its rivers and oceans, damaging the climate and the environment and adversely affecting the ozone layer. This damage is devastating and irretrievable. Unless drastic steps are taken, our pillage will make the earth uninhabitable.
After the 1992 Rio earth Summit, the recently held Rio+20 conferences was a commendable initiative. But, most of the recommendations of the former were not implemented. And the realisation and the will to tackle these urgent crises are still lacking today.
The deep fissures and seemingly unbridgeable cleavages amongst people around the globe are, in essence, a conflict of values and ideas. In the present mosaic, certain value systems and intrinsic ideas shine forth as commendable and desirable, whilst others reflect malignancy and hatred.
In my view, the most magnificent legacies of humanity are those of ancient Greek thought and the Confucian outlook of China, Japan and Korea. These legacies of humanity are admirable and salutary. Most of the other creeds and belief systems are not and have resulted in deep schisms of thought and beliefs and irreconcilable hatreds and virulence.
There is dire need in the world today of an ethical compass and moral direction. This has to be within a milieu of intellectual and personal freedoms. The struggle is titanic. The forces of justice and the rule of law must prevail over bigotry, dogmatism and greed. An intellectual renaissance has to occur in a framework of practical politics, sound jurisprudence and educational uplift throughout the world.
Immanuel Kant put forward the view that, however much the application of morality may vary in different circumstances, a good man is one who acts on the supposition that there is an unconditioned and objective moral standard which holds for all men in virtue of their rationality as human beings.
His moral law is a systematisation based on the Hellenistic notion of the logos. But the most profound and unsurpassed discussion of ethical notions were in the dialogues of Plato. We need to imbibe them afresh in confronting the enormous challenges of modern times. And we need to keep in mind the unity of reason, truth, beauty and ethics in shaping our world order.
We need to lift up our sights from our petty and vicious squabbles to the bigger picture in order to make modern life worthwhile.
The tremendous pace of change is the cardinal fact of our times. How humanity tackles change will determine its future. Our effort should be to understand the axiological and sociological dimensions of the phenomena and to support it with a firm intellectual underpinning.
We have to be clear about the basic issues and judge them according to sound, rational and wise criteria. Although the determination of policy in modern times requires an immense amount of specialist knowledge and skills, the ultimate significance of the policies and their consequences must be determined, as far as possible, in the light of its place on the map of total human experience.