OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD
Shall we follow or shall we lead? There are those who do not welcome the changes of the 21st century. For some, the good-old-days summon up familiar memories of a time when boundaries were clearly drawn and positions were firmly held. We had problems and we had solutions for those problems, and as time progressed, we made plans for our futures based on historical events. How has our perception changed toward this pattern, as we feel our way forward into this new century? Are the old alliances working, or do we allow larger, better, more inclusive and appropriate agreements to take their place? Is it practical to use a 20th century template to solve 21st century problems? Many are reluctant to lead, fearing to take those steps which mark change, and fearing to sponsor those who do. For some, the cold-war mentality has scarred their outlook to the point that all gestures of cooperation towards others are viewed in a hostile light. Olive-branch diplomacy risks accusations of pandering, weakness, and traitorism. Others proclaim that a new millennium has begun, full of opportunities that must not be squandered through policies of non-inclusiveness and fear-mongering.
From what viewpoint do we choose to obtain our world perspective? As individuals, we understand and embrace those technologies and policies which enhance our lives and move us forward. As countries, we recognize those who are most adept at promoting solutions and setting good examples for others to follow. Cooperation between those who lead by good example magnifies the effect of the results and encourages further partnerships. The world of change begins at our doorsteps, and leads to many other changes that are developing all around us. How we choose to respond to these invitations and opportunities defines us as individuals, nations and humanity. Should we wait, while others shoulder the responsibilities of leadership? Should we be reluctant participants, who respond only to events that we perceive as intrusive and harmful to our established standards? Or should we establish a new-millennium diplomacy which seeks common agreement on issues that affect and benefit us all? Adoption has shown us how individuals can be changed through a healthier family and social environment. I believe that every human on our planet would benefit from adoption into a new global family, which can supply the ingredients which are lacking in our separate lives. Enlarging our view-of-the-world to include a full spectrum of nations united in purpose and direction will continue this process of education and social development that will enrich and enable succeeding generations to develop and encourage each other.
Instead of an "us vs. them"- mentality, which pits nation-against-nation, and presumes that only one nation is capable of deciding what is beneficial for all, why not acknowledge our differences and move beyond them to create bridges that unite us in our common endeavors? Perhaps we will discover that there truly are more issues that we agree on, than those which divide us. The rich tapestry of our humanity must be woven with the skill of united effort, less-mindful of our differences, and more-thoughtful of our shared aspirations. We realize that certain individuals are wonderfully gifted in some areas, and yet depend on others to supply those talents and energies which they lack. When we consider the world, this same principle must be acknowledged and promoted so that equal opportunity is offered to everyone to develop the talents that God made uniquely theirs.
Who knows how many bright minds and able bodies have been exempted through policies of non-inclusion and denied opportunity? When these barriers are allowed to continue, we only cheat ourselves and our earth of the innovations and industry that would result from inclusion. "A mind is a terrible thing to waste,"- and so is the human energy that depends on a beneficial and humane society for its development. We feed our animals and water our plants, but we deny our fellow humans the ingredients they so desperately need for a successful life. Shame on those of us who lead and follow, who selfishly put humanity in jeopardy and deny the dreams and accomplishments of those who are potentially our betters, through policies which deny entrance and opportunity to all but the "chosen few."- We can do better than this, and we must! We must begin to view everyone as a part of our world family, and no longer just as separate individuals and nations.
I have faith that when we cooperate with each other, and promote the general welfare and advancement of all of our neighbors, that our entire planet will benefit. Our earth and its inhabitants are depending upon our united efforts to accomplish this transformation. Selfish ambitions must defer to those policies which enable every person to succeed. Yesterday's political categories no longer suffice to bring about these changes. Our new family must decide that we prefer unity to individual desires. Should our individual wishes deprive others of their dreams? Consider how many countries have risen to power in the past, only to fall victim to the axiom that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely!"- How many countries bitterly regret that their power was not kept in check by the voices of moderation who pleaded with leadership not to plunge themselves and their nations headlong in the pursuit of global domination? Their power was wasted in the destructive efforts of wars which only increased suffering and deprivation in their own countries and in the world around them. Instead of being a force for leadership and peace, they became perpetrators of greed and violence who sowed the seeds of disharmony and hatred that we carry with us to this day. We need leadership NOW, more than ever, that is willing to put the general welfare of every individual and political entity on the planet ahead of their own selfish desires. Does this world need to be a "dog-eat-dog"- kind of reality? Are there really a lack of abundant resources available, or have we refused to do what families are supposed to do--share?
As individuals, we each contribute our efforts to our family, so that our family can move forward together and accomplish what we as individuals might never achieve. Let us as individuals, embrace our world-wide human family in this same way, and help each other to develop individually, so that we can move forward together as one WHOLE family. In this process, we will discover that our own happiness depends more on helping others than it does on helping ourselves. Let us move toward leadership by example, promoting those who prove their willingness to sacrifice their own power and wealth for the greater good of all, and trusting that the One God Who made us all will provide the skill to accomplish this great task.
Mark Overt Skilbred