The following is a story that I have written to help bring together many of the ideas in this book. The story is about how another planet was able to survive when faced with similar problems related to growing technologies as we do today. It is not to suggest that alien life forms may or may not exist, only to use other life forms as a parallel to the situation we face with our technologies. It is a story about how the countries of this planet might learn to work together to deal with potential problems we may face in the future.
What if interplanetary space travelers came to our world tomorrow? They explain to us that their planet is the only survivor from millions of planets and civilizations that have come and gone in the universe. They had learned the secret to survive and they were once like us. They had been monitoring the planet Earth along with millions of other planets and could see we were now close to our juncture so it was time to visit us. We ask one of the space travelers what was meant by "us having reached our juncture" and we receive the following response:
"We have found that all species follow the same pattern in their evolution. Their evolving intelligence enables them to understand the relationship between matter and energy and use it to their benefit. You call this ability technology. Ultimately virtually all species, upon reaching this juncture as you have done with your technology, destroy themselves with a self-created virus or the ability to create an unimaginable form of energy.
There is a significant probability that either outcome will happen to you within approximately 100 of your years from now. If you are like all other planets we have observed that come to this juncture, this also is your probable destiny. Our species though was able to determine a solution which has allowed us to survive making us the sole survivors of this script hence we have been able to visit you today. If you do not find the solution as we did you do have one other option. You can immediately prevent further technological development worldwide. This means you will never learn of the technology which lies in your near future that may cause you to become extinct. While limiting your development of technology may seem a solution, our scientists have also calculated that in 818 of your years an asteroid will destroy your planet. Of course, in limiting your technological growth, you will not find ways to colonize other planets and you will not find ways of destroying the asteroid when it approaches your Earth. We can guarantee you though that your race will continue the 818 years. During this time you can continue to enjoy your lives as your ancestors did, living a simple life, enjoying all you have come to enjoy in your lives - family, love, health and so on."
So what do we do? Their display of space travel assures us that their words are true. Are we able to stop ourselves from developing new technologies and go back to our old ways knowing we will survive at least, but only, 818 years instead of the probable 100 years? This is an interesting question but I think we know that humankind could not let go of evolving technology and intelligence. After all, though improbable, we might also learn their secret and endure as they have.
If we are going to continue to pursue our technologies I suggest we walk instead of run, and walk very carefully. With a future bound to face technological problems that will impact Life and Earth in ways never seen before it is time for the countries and cultures of the world to bypass their differences and work together to acknowledge and face these problems. The question is, with so many different beliefs, conflicting economic interests, and growing disparity in the world, how is it that we can realistically face the challenges of the future related to our technologies? How can we work as One?
(Note: The photo above is an Artist's concept of a catastrophic asteroid impact with the early Earth. An impact with a 500-km-diameter asteroid would effectively sterilize the planet. Fortunately today there are no projectiles this large to threaten our planet.)
What came of the space travelers that warned us of our future? They moved on to other planets also facing the same challenges as Earth but one of the space travelers, before leaving, handed us an object. Upon holding it, it told us this story, not in words, but to our minds:
"Our home planet is so much like your Earth. It is covered with pristine rivers, fresh air, beautiful skies and it is abundant with a rich diversity of species. It is so colorful and beautiful and we care for it as if it were a part of ourselves. This was not always the case though.
Like you, as a part of our primitive past, our species also was fragmented into many countries all pursuing their different beliefs and attempting to strengthen their economic dominance. There was so much disparity and conflict between them. We came to realize that our technologies were developing too fast and affecting the entire planet. As our world population grew our resources became depleted and our atmosphere became polluted causing devastating changes to our climate and environment. We tried to adapt with clean technologies but we found that even if some countries took the lead, others would continue with the old ways because it was to their economic benefit. Often the leaders of the countries did not represent the people. Instead they favored their own interests of power, control, and wealth. They easily convinced the masses to follow them by only allowing information to filter through the communication channels and education systems that was to the benefit of their dominance. Our leaders could not agree on global policies and we were a world in disarray. Like a team with no leader we were unable to find unity between us.
Then one day there was a leader of a country who took a new approach. The leader proposed some ideas that helped us face our dilemma. These ideas were presented in the form of a Universal Philosophy based on the following ideas:
It is true that as beings we have evolved with instincts of self-preservation. Each of us is "me" and around us we "conceive" the world in our own eyes. Basically he proposed though that we were not selfish, only that our interests tended to be directed toward those events and things that were closest to each of us, not much different than less evolved animals. He proposed that we must incorporate into the education system, and make accessible to all, the knowledge of those things that affected Life and Earth globally, so that all could see beyond the circle of their daily lives.
As a part of the education system the young were taught about global issues. They were taught to understand the implications of our technology like global warming, overpopulation, over consumption of resources, and the way we were placing the planet at risk with potentially destructive technologies. Science was used to understand the flow of matter and energy - that which we were all a part of, and to help interpret physical reality accurately. In addition, all were taught to question the meaning of our existence and understand the nature of other Life and ourselves.
The Universal Philosophy became the foundation on which our youth would build upon. In so, they became able to see outside of their own small worlds and became more aware of the grander world they were all a part of. Given this knowledge, the people began to see that it was in the interest of their own self-preservation to concern themselves with issues beyond the small circle of their lives.
He also proposed that our beings be educated on our evolution so they might better understand how we were different from other creatures. We were taught that we were different because we had evolved with the ability of abstract thought and reason, often termed as intelligence, which in turn had given us the ability to create technologies. We were taught though that our ability of abstract thought and reason had caused us to create an infinite number of belief systems that often caused conflict between us. Our diverse beliefs came in the form of religions, discrimination, patriotism, ego, and differences in our ideas of right and wrong. We came to realize that our ability to conceptualize in such diverse ways made us vulnerable to conflict. In understanding this, we were able to recognize many of our differences did not warrant conflict. We then redirected our abilities of "abstract thought" more beneficially toward our survival. We learned to see what we had in common, and found greater peace between each other through greater understanding, acceptance, and tolerance.
Finally we were taught empathy and consideration for all Life and the planet. We were taught that the planet was not invincible to our indulgent ways and we must show respect for it as we would for our closest loved ones. We learned how in evolving as we did we were a reflection of our world, that we were an integral part of it, and in abusing it we were abusing ourselves. We learned the value of all the wonderful sensations that we shared with other life on the planet, especially with each other. We came to understand the importance of empathy and care toward the planet and other Life.
The leader incorporated the Universal Philosophy into the education system. He found though that in order to ensure that everyone had the same opportunity with education there was a need to reduce disparity within his country. He explained to his people the sacrifice that might be necessary to help those that were less privileged. Government funds were used to explain the dilemma to the people of the planet and the potential problems that we might face in the future. As a result those who were more privileged accepted that they might be required to give toward minimizing disparity, but with the understanding that the wealth was to go toward the education of the Universal Philosophy. He explained this was not an issue of religion so all would be encouraged to follow their beliefs as they might. It was an issue that encompassed them all - Life and the planet.
The leader did not realize at the time but the actions that he was taking would become a template for changing the planet.
The country began to focus on "innovative" technologies that would improve efficiency over old methods and consider the welfare of the environment. He encouraged trade with other countries that could provide resources that would contribute to these "clean" technologies. In return he offered "innovative" technologies with the understanding that those countries would also educate themselves in a similar way toward consideration for Life and the planet. In addition, he went to developing countries that were still in poverty, unable to progress due to limited resources and innovation. He realized that these countries were less privileged and so he offered assistance to them with the understanding that they also would fall under global policies and the Universal Philosophy. They were assisted with resources and innovation that would improve their ability to be self-sufficient. Hence, with education and an improved lifestyle the developing countries no longer relied on more children to support the aging population. Population growth slowed down and in these countries it came to a level in balance with the regional resources available. Having been educated on the welfare of the planet and Life, they inherently were supportive of global policies and the Universal Philosophy.
He respectfully went to the other countries with this philosophy.
He knew the other countries were of different beliefs even to the point where some were in conflict over their political and religious ideologies but he was able to bypass any disagreements and he spoke to them. He went not as a tyrant, but humbly. He approached the other leaders and told them:
"I know we are different but we are also the same. We are in a responsible position of power and we represent our people. We see poverty, conflict, and suffering within our countries and in our world. Regardless of our ways whether driven by capitalism, communism, military power, or religion, we know that all of us would rather see these problems gone. Can we find a vision together that will allow us to keep our cultures and ideologies but also bring us greater strength to solve these problems? I am prepared to put our hand out first and offer to help you. It doesn't matter where we start because our gestures are about us connecting and progressing toward greater goals. Can we work toward a goal where we can maintain our different cultures and also find a Universal Philosophy that can give us both strength and help us work together as one?"
The leader went to many countries. Many would not see his vision but some saw the same vision, especially those that were suffering from the side effects of our new technologies, such as climate change. Those that agreed with him saw the potential problems that lay in the future from new technologies. They saw that the side effects of our technologies had become out of control. Global warming on the planet was harming everyone and the risk of viral warfare between countries was getting higher. They saw that overpopulation was leading to problems within their countries. Only by working together could they develop and manage the technologies that would protect them, but also avoid the side effects of the technologies that might destroy them.
In so, many other countries also agreed on the Universal Philosophy and specific global policies. They included the Universal Philosophy into their education systems willingly as it did not conflict with their cultural beliefs. This philosophy showed respect for the beliefs of each culture but at the same time it educated them on how the planet was limited and how our future was questionable if we continued as we were.
Then one day there was a leader of another country, which represented a significant part of the planet's population. The country was very different politically and it was a great economic power primarily driven by powerful economies of scale and productivity. Nevertheless the two leaders saw that by combining the innovation, resources and productivity of their countries they would gain great wealth and synergies. While keeping their cultural differences the two countries made great diplomatic efforts to unify, focussing on education and staying on the path of the Universal Philosophy. There were great economic and political concessions made on both their parts so that global policies could be adhered to but they persevered with great tolerance even when conflicts seemed imminent. It was because of leaders like these that our countries began to be more unified in their consideration for Life and the planet. Even today, thousands of years later, those leaders that pioneered the Universal Philosophy and put us on our current path are remembered for having changed our ways. They kept us on the road of survival so that we might colonize other planets and even be able to visit you this day.
Our progress did not come without many conflicts and wars but gradually our world became unified over many of your decades. Over time disparities in wealth were resolved because education had caused a huge decrease in population. This meant more wealth for all, especially from the innovative clean technologies that were developed. Ultimately, the world realized that it was education about consideration for Life and the planet that would bring us toward a balance of wealth and well being. Conflicts disappeared in our world. Discrimination between races and differences over religion came to be virtually nonexistent and when minor conflicts existed, they were resolved easily with the assistance of the global council. Ultimately, the global council had a huge capacity to resolve any conflicts because it was supported by all in our world.
Finally the day came when we learned of the technology that would take us to the stars, that which has enabled us to be here today with you. It was also the day that many countries of the planet had access to the technology. We realized though that it was such a phenomenal form of energy that if used in the wrong way it could cause devastation to Life and the planet. We were fortunate and prepared. Our countries were unified with all our people educated on the importance of our unification. We did not question that the welfare of the planet was equally important as ourselves, hence we were able to avoid catastrophe. Instead of our countries competing for the technology in order to be the first into deep space all were able to suppress their desires for the benefit of all. The global council worked together with all countries and we found many obstacles when developing the technology. We were patient though and we waited and waited, combining all the great scientific minds of our world until it was perfected. Finally, we were able to explore the stars together and the technology was used to give energy for all our innovations on the planet. We had learned just how very important it was to be careful as we developed new technologies, and by working as one, we were able to be absolutely sure of the impact of any side effects before applying our technologies.
Other planets had also come to their juncture and they too came to face the imminent knowledge of this new powerful technology but, rather than take a unified approach, they had individual countries overpower all other countries in their world to maintain "control" and "order". They thought they could overcome their vulnerability to conflict with such a presence. This suppression could never succeed because ultimately the capability of conflict or accident was not prevented. Pockets of rebellion would always surface leaving these worlds with little control over the devastating side effects of the new technology.
Only through truly educating the world on the Universal Philosophy and working as one could a solution be found. This way individuals were free to choose and live with their own beliefs but, in understanding the world and interpreting our physical reality accurately, their choices exhibited the care necessary to allow Life and the planet to endure. We learned to work as one and over the eons it became our nature to be one. In so, we were still able to keep many of our cultures, ideologies, and the many wonderful species and colors of our world.
In addition we chose to maintain our existence as bipeds like you. We realized that we were a reflection of the planet so we chose to keep our form that we had evolved with. In so we were able to keep the senses that had allowed us to experience our world and also to survive. We had available to us choices where each individual could live for 1000's of years basically becoming cyborgs, but instead we restrained ourselves and allowed our life cycles to end at finite periods so that new Life might emerge to replace us. We were willing to place the welfare of our species before the longevity of ourselves.
After all our technology we are not so different than you. If we had allowed ourselves to evolve as cyborgs we would have lost our senses that we so came to value, those senses that had evolved during our natural evolution on the planet. We realized that technology was not just about making our lives so easy that our bodies had no purpose. Instead, our technologies were used to improve such things as our lifestyle and chances of survival. They were applied to colonizing other planets and making our lives and planet more secure.
Even with our technologies though, we chose to both suffer the pains of living and experience the joys of living to the fullest. Our beings continued to use our bodies, our arms and legs. We continued to farm, to play, and to enjoy our interaction with Nature. We protected our species, our lakes, our air, and all the beauty that came from our planet, all those precious things that gave sensation and color to our lives.
And one day soon, as you continue your quest for new technologies, your species will find the technology that will allow you to explore the stars as we once did. It will be energy so powerful that when harnessed it will take you to other solar systems and even other galaxies one day. This will be your telltale though, for this energy will also be the one that will test you and your Earth. It will test whether your species has learned what is necessary to evolve to the next level. If you succeed you will come to explore new worlds beyond your solar system.
As you explore new galaxies you will always reach back toward your Earth for your answers. You will learn that in choosing to give of yourself to protect Life and Earth - its colors, its beauty, and all that it has allowed you to sense and become - you will find your future. In each of you accepting yourselves as an integral part of the universe and by showing the willingness to give of yourselves to the world that you are a part of, you will find the peace you yearn for. In so you will be able to enjoy all the senses and wonder of the world you have cared for and your time will go on for eons into the future. You will colonize many of the virtually infinite number of planets in the universe and many of them will become new homes for your species. On your journey we hope you will find us. If this occurs we will know that our visits to such planets as yours was not in vain.
It is our deepest desire to guide you to the right path but we cannot. It is a responsibility you must find within yourselves. In all our treks to millions of planets we hope that one day, a species such as yours, will evolve so that they might visit our home planet and the planets we have come to colonize. We are so much the same as you but we can only know that your species can live in harmony with other Life in the universe if you pass your juncture by learning to work together as one, and come to voyage successfully across the stars on your own.
So now you know why we have come to visit you. We have come to offer you the knowledge that just as we have come to be one with the universe, you must first become one with all Life and your Earth. Each individual on your planet has an influence on all that you are. Each of you is a cell in your body of Earth and it awaits to see if you can all act in unity to allow it to endure. In so doing, you will come to realize that you and your Earth are also just one cell in the body of the universe. We hope that you will one day become One with us."
With those final words the object laid out a map of the universe which one day Life on Earth might come to understand and use to find the space travelers who had come to visit us ...
Those who had given us the vision that we could work together as one ...
Those who had given us the vision that one day it might become our nature to give of ourselves for the welfare of what we are a part of ...
We would be One.