Saturday, February 5, 2011

Worldwide Awakening

by Richard Crews
Twenty five hundred years ago over a span of about four generations there appeared at many places around the Earth the greatest flowering of the human spirit the World had ever known.

In Greece, this was the age of The Seven Wise Men who are considered by many to be the founders of Western civilization; these were the days of Periclean Athens: Socrates and Plato laid the foundations of Western Philosophy; Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides, and Aristophanes created the theatrical arts as we have come to know them; Herodotus and Thucydides laid down the founding principles of writing history; democracy was born; the root ideas of rational scientific inquiry were created; and more.

Prophets of the Old Testament were staking out the moral and ethical bounds of the three great Abrahamic religions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

In India, the Buddha Gautama arose from meditation under the Bodhi Tree to begin his forty-year ministry, and started a wave of religious enlightenment that spread across India, Tibet, China, and Japan.

In China, Confucius composed the Analects and Lao-Tse, the Tao Te Ching during this brief period; these are, to this day, the two great pillars of Chinese philosophy and religion.

There were great social, intellectual, and artistic achievements in South and Central America, and in North Africa.

Indeed, those few decades 2500 years ago produced across the globe the greatest era of human achievement and flowering of the human spirit the world had ever known--an Awakening which has been unsurpassed.

Until now--until the worldwide intellectual and social revolution of our own day.

We are in the middle of the Second Worldwide Awakening. The industrial and scientific revolutions of the past two centuries are part of it, as are the globalization of commerce and the spread of democracy and human rights which has accelerated over the past few decades.

Do not be distracted by reports of savage dictators and genocides--those are the historical norm; it is only in recent decades that they have come to be seen as aberrant offenses to the human spirit and internationally illegal. Yes, it is true that one sixth of the world's population live in abject poverty without enough food or clean water, but this has always been true, and until recent years, no one took particular notice of them. Nowadays three things are different. First, the impoverished and downtrodden have a voice and an image; the Internet, social media, and the ubiquitous press are making them seen and heard around the world. Second, rich people care; every year philanthropic billions channeled through thousands of NGOs (as well as First-World governments) try to help, and are making a difference. Third, science and technology as well as global politics have made solutions possible.

We are in the midst of the Second Worldwide Awakening. It is--and will be--even greater than the first. True, the challenges are daunting--but also true, the resources are formidable.