The new century is only nine years old and already our prospects for the future can seem like a montage of hopelessness and despair
But enough already! The human spirit is perennially strong and our global immune system is fighting back by creating new thought forms to fight the virus of negativity.
In previous centuries, we replaced ignorance with widespread literacy. We opened new horizons through science, technology and exploration. We ended slavery, created democracy and overthrew fascism. We organized labour, liberated women and won civil rights for all.
What might we achieve in this century? Here are seven possibilities that are totally within our reach if we have the vision and courage of our ancestors.
First wonder: 100 per cent renewable energy. Energy efficiency, solar power — photovoltaic and thermal — in the world’s deserts, wind, geothermal, tidal, wave, hydropower and bioenergy offer us far more energy than we need, and once we have made the shift, this energy will be available forever. No more wars over oil. No more air pollution. And much less climate chaos.
Second wonder: A global economy that respects nature. In Canada’s last federal election, if only those younger than 25 had voted, the Green Party would now be running the country. There is a growing recognition that we can no longer treat Earth’s myriad ecosystems as “negative externalities,” following the blind stupidity of mainstream economics.
If our younger people have their way, this century will see a sweeping green revolution that uses legislation, green taxation and global treaties to liberate nature from oppression.
Third wonder: The end of poverty. Muhammad Yunus, who created the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, has shown how microlending can lift the world’s poorest out of poverty, while Peru’s Hernando de Soto has demonstrated how granting legal title can enable them to turn their assets into liquid capital and participate with their enterprise.
This will take a prolonged effort, but the dream that future generations will have to visit a museum to learn what poverty was is still very much alive.
Fourth wonder: The end of war. This is not a fantasy. By removing oil from the equation of global conflict, we remove the major cause of war.
The second major cause — nationalism — is already dying, as more and more people find a solid identity as citizens of our shared planet, rather than of their nation alone.
Global peacemaking, peacekeeping and conflict resolution are expanding their reach every year. After millennia of bloodshed, we can finally eliminate war.
Fifth wonder: The end of cruelty to animals. This may be the hardest wonder to achieve, yet all that’s needed is widespread understanding of the atrocious ways we treat animals in factory farms, puppy mills, veal crates, bear bile cages and so on.
We already know from our love of pets that the bond with animals can be enormously strong. With persistence, we can end the suffering we cause.
Sixth wonder: World government. Can any advanced planet operate without world government? It is only the dying embers of national pride that prevent us from embracing workable global treaties and a democratically elected global assembly. Future generations will wonder what the fuss was all about.
Seventh wonder: One spirituality. When the world’s religions were created, it was out of a realization that one supreme God would end the bloodshed between followers of rival tribal gods.
Today, the same thing is happening as more and more people realize that they can draw on the deep spirituality of any religion without embracing its fundamentalist trappings. Science itself is on the verge of a breakthrough to a unified field theory that will merge matter and consciousness.
The only things that hold us distant from these wonders are negativity and hopelessness, the sad pillars of tired minds.
We ourselves could be the eighth wonder of the 21st century, if we co-operate with others to realize the dream.