STATE OF THE WORLD – A Millennium Message

By John McConnell The Founder of Earth Day

July 28, 1998 - Comments and suggestions welcome


As we approach civilization's Third Millennium we are faced with both formidable dangers and auspicious opportunities. There is now, more than any time in history, an urgent need to examine the state of the world—its history, dangers and possibilities—in order to determine how we can come together, avoid catastrophe, and cooperate to achieve our common goals.

An agenda is needed that will appeal to people of every age, culture and creed. The following can accomplish this purpose:

EARTH TRUSTEE FORMULA FOR A BETTER FUTURE ON PLANET EARTH

“LET EVERY INDIVIDUAL AND INSTITUTION NOW THINK AND ACT AS A RESPONSIBLE TRUSTEE OF EARTH, SEEKING CHOICES IN ECOLOGY, ECONOMICS AND ETHICS THAT WILL PROVIDE A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE, ELIMINATE POLLUTION, POVERTY AND VIOLENCE, AWAKEN THE WONDER OF LIFE AND FOSTER PEACEFUL PROGRESS IN THE HUMAN ADVENTURE.”

To successfully apply the formula let us first consider the resources available for our task.

MIRACLE PLANET

To help us be objective imagine for a moment that you are a visitor from another planet. When you are informed of the amazing web of life that covers our globe, the raw materials and natural resources that abound, the magnitude of our knowledge and now the skills and technology at our disposal, you would be dumbfounded at the poverty, pollution and violence that covers our globe.

VISION NEEDED

The basic problem on our planet is the failure of people to look beyond the problem, see the solutions and act on them. An ancient saying tells us, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” The Earth Trustee vision, policies and agenda can appeal to the most people and do the most good for people and planet. It can appeal to the logic and strength that belongs to “simple and clear souls.”

ACCENT THE POSITIVE

While people may use different words to describe their efforts, here and there around the world are success stories of efforts to eliminate pollution, poverty and violence—to educate, cooperate and achieve worthwhile community goals. Giving these success stories a common Earth Trustee label will strengthen these efforts and foster support for a global agenda.

AGREE WITH YOUR ENEMY

A major policy that will facilitate success in cases where differences arise is to constantly look for and acknowledge important points of agreement. In my own efforts to help resolve differences between Soviet and American leaders (which succeeded on several occasions) I persuaded both sides to cooperate in matters of importance in which they agreed—in spite of strong differences in other matters. Their joint actions in environmental matters and in Space then led to better communications and aided resolution of differences.

My own view of this approach was the result of my heeding the words of Jesus who said we should agree with our adversary, or enemy. This did not mean we should agree with something we did not believe, but that good will and an honest effort can lead to something important on which adversaries could agree.

WHERE WE AGREE

Let us then agree that we all are interested in what life is all about. And would like to see a better future for ourselves—and our children. We should be able to agree that in today’s world of cyberspace we are all so connected that problems anywhere will eventually affect us. Our best chance for the future is to pursue policies and choose actions that applied worldwide will benefit everyone.

WHAT HISTORY TEACHES

To understand what is best we should look at what history teaches. Since the dawn of history every generation has seen both love and hate, fear and trust, violence and compassion. Through the centuries, one’s loyalty to tribe, clan or country was repeatedly used for fighting, ever seeking more land, wealth or power. Power schemes were based on the idea that success will go, not to those who are right but to the force with the stronger weapons. Even today there are those who believe that bombs help us get “Peace through Power.” While cities joined to form states and nations formed power blocks it was always to counter other groups with power of money and weapons. Finally, the League of Nations and then the United Nations sought peace through understanding. But the patterns of loyalty and fear of “the other” caused repeated failures. Spite and revenge won the day.

The failures of the past do not necessarily condemn any new effort to failure. There has been a measure of success from time to time in history where religious faith provided creative altruism that was stronger than political or nationalistic rivalries. “This Freedom Whence” by Charles Wesley Brady, described the Wesleyan revivals of the 18th Century that countered social injustice, political rivalries and slavery with “Strength To Love,” which later was the title of a book by Martin Luther King Jr. The efforts of William Penn and the Quakers were a positive force for relations with neighbors. Also important was the success of Ghandi in India’s non-violent revolution.

There are new factors in the state of the world today that taken advantage of could finally enlarge our loyalties to include the whole human family. The enemy would no longer be other people, but instead would be the ignorance, poverty and injustice that is found in any part of the world. The key to defeating these enemies of humanity is the spread of solutions that are working. Now Internet can help make this happen.

Religion at its best has taught altruism and from time to time fostered peaceful progress. On the other hand, in the past, differences in creeds about the mysteries of life and death have many times resulted in conflict, violence and sometimes war. This need not be. We all respond emotionally to icons of belief which have formed as a result of our personal experiences. One of the best men I know, a man who has saved millions of acres of wilderness forests from being destroyed, has no religious belief. He said he did not have time to study things that are unknowable. And then he added, “The worst wars in history were fought in the name of religion.” He is a thoughtful man. His experience and thought had left him with this view.

On the other hand, while what he said was true, I believe many of the greatest victories over difficulties have been the result of religious belief. In my own case I was once in prison, because of my religious views on war and what should be done about it. Placed in solitary confinement I was limited to bread and water. I refused the bread for 11 days—losing 40 pounds. I was without light or heat in what they called “The Black Box.” Afterwards I was released and charges against me were dropped.

The thing that sustained me in this soul wrenching experience was the words in a song by Catherine Booth of the Salvation Army. Over a hundred years ago she was imprisoned in a French cell where she had to fight off the rats. While there she wrote, “Blest beloved of my soul. I am here alone with thee. And my prison is a haven, since thou sharest it with me.”

Coming back to my environmentalist friend, the interesting thing is that while he has no interest in questions about God and we disagree on its importance, my friend and I firmly agree and have supported each other on environmental issues. Focus on common ground will prevent going to war over differences.

The world will be a far better place when people are taught to accent the positive and work together where they agree—regardless of differences in other matters. The way to bring this about is to spread the Earth Trustee vision and agenda by word and example. Be an Earth Trustee. Have some project that will help achieve Earth Trustee goals. Persuade any group of which you are a member to adopt the Earth Magna Charta and its Earth Trustee agenda.

The following is a future that “Could Be.” These ideas are to help achieve a new global positive state of mind and lead to vigorous efforts for Earth’s rejuvenation. Following is a possible scenario – beginning in 1999. (At this writing—July, 1998 – most of the following has not yet happened. It can and will happen when enough people decide to do what they can.)

 

A Wish For the New Millennium:

MIRACLE PLANET TO ADOPT EARTH TRUSTEE AGENDA

The Secretary General of the United Nations issues a statement summarizing the role the annual Earth Day Ceremony at the United Nations has played in bridging differences and inspiring cooperation for mutual global goals. The President of the General Assembly announces a resolution has been unanimously passed in the General Assembly approving global celebration each year of Earth Day when the Peace Bell is rung on the first day of Spring.

Earth Day 1999 and each year in the New Millennium will be celebrated worldwide on Nature’s Day, March 20-21. Leaders of every religion are invited to consider Earth Day a holy day with special services related to peace; justice; stewardship and care of the precious skin of life that covers our globe.

Media Role

With the help of radio, TV, press and World Wide Web the moment of equinox on Earth Day will be observed as a global minute of silent prayer, a time for heartfelt dedication to think and act as responsible Trustees of Earth. To continue and strengthen commitment, daily Earth Minutes will follow.

Cities And States

The state of Alabama has issued an Earth Trustee Proclamation. Its city of Decatur is engaged in asking every young person to register as a Young Earth Trustee and volunteer for work in one of the many organizations that need help. Many youth organizations—church, school, environmental, health—are increasing their membership and efforts. They are making their communities “Earth Trustee Communities”—rapidly reducing pollution, poverty and violence.

To aid these efforts the local radio and TV stations are featuring daily Earth Minutes and reporting on solutions being discovered and progress in pursuing the Earth Trustee agenda. Actions and progress are reported on Decatur’s Earth Trustee Web Site. New environmentally sound production and marketing provide more sales and jobs. Interest and replication is spreading to other cities. TV networks are monitoring the spread of Earth Trustee efforts. As religious leaders and celebrities in the performing arts discuss possibilities, boards of major corporations meet to plan how they can help the effort. Politicians and TV anchors now use items in the Earth Magna Charta to measure the harm or help shown in actions of individuals and institutions.

Bethel, Connecticut has adopted the Earth Magna Charta and is engaging every segment of the community in making their town an example of the power and benefit of the Earth Trustee Agenda. Earth Trustee Forums and Message Boards on Internet are spreading the idea around the world.

Nations And Continents

Reports are coming from other countries of independent Earth Trustee efforts, using the Earth Magna Charta as a guide for policies and actions. Nepal announces adoption of the Earth Magna Charta and is urging the United Nations to follow suit. Saudi Arabia approves the Earth Magna Charta and in accordance with its agenda uses two percent of its oil revenues to provide homes and education for the disinherited poor in neighboring countries. Iran is following suit.

Austria adopted the Earth Magna Charta and its United Nations Center now provides a World Wide Web Earth Trustee Information Center. Their interactive systems can assist Earth Trustee efforts worldwide.

Pope John Paul II and Billy Graham call for global observance of the daily Earth Minutes and participation in Earth Trustee efforts. The Pope stated, “The strength of simple clear souls can now bring the changes needed.” Billy Graham said, “Let us prove the power of our faith in a future life by our works in this life.”

REPENTANCE AND RENEWAL

December 22, 2000: A day for Repentance and Forgiveness. This day, just three days before Christmas has been repeatedly observed as “Minute for Peace Day.” This began in 1963 when we ended the period of mourning for President Kennedy. In facing the auspicious opportunities and responsibilities of the new millennium it is important that we put the past behind and make the New Millennium a New Beginning for humanity. In the Third Millennium let people, governments and institutions of every kind be judged – not by what they did in the 20th Century – with all its hate and violence, but by what they do in the 21st. While some are far more guilty than others, there is enough guilt to go all around. Its time to forgive and forget, to repent and renew. Now is the time for love in action to prove its power.

Star Of Hope

To provide a new symbol of hope for the new millennium, NASA announces they will launch the Star of Hope Satellite, which has been approved by the General Assembly. It will have a polar orbit and be seen each night on every continent. Flashing at the rate of a newborn child’s heartbeat the Star of Hope will be as bright as Venus. It will contain a memory disk with the names of individuals from every continent who have mailed their names to the United Nations declaring their intention to think and act as Earth Trustees. The Satellite will also radio reports from the United Nations on Earth Trustee progress. The Star of Hope will be launched on Earth Day, March 20-21, 2001. A child looking up at night may say, “That’s the Star of Hope. My name’s in it. I’m a Trustee of Planet Earth.”

NEW MILLENNIUM

As the New Millennium begins a new global attitude results in common sense solutions to human problems. Instead of people in needy countries heading for what they think would be better prospects in crowded cities, they are being helped to form small Earth Villages where they are trained to operate computers with interactive systems for information and production. Cyberspace is now providing new systems of supply and demand that by-pass bankers and their unfair control of money and credit.

Through the spread of World Wide Web people everywhere are able to tap the latest solution in food production, home and community design, energy supply, products and travel.. Music, dance, art, education and religious institutions also benefit from the Earth Trustee vision and agenda. More people have leisure to enjoy concerts, recreation, be with their families and pursue the great mysteries of life, “Why are we here, where are we going?”

The United Nations is now strengthened by a World Council of Communities that provides more decisions and responsibility at the grass roots level. In the Year 2001 the United Nations celebrates Earth Day with the ringing of a new Peace Bell in Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus. People of all creeds and cultures join in the global Earth Day celebration of thanksgiving for love and life on our miracle planet. A new millennium, an Earth Trustee Millennium, of great promise has begun.


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