John C. Munday Jr.
The globalization of the world's peoples and nations, in their cultures, economics, and politics, is accelerating. A major stimulus is the internet, which derives from the transistor invented in the 1950s.
Those commenting on this globalization often focus on the collectivization of all individuals into an organic system. A technological parallel is envisioned for the internet, sometimes described in terms that the worldwide linkage of computers is forming a giant electronic brain.
A look toward the distant future, the year 3000, allows the very imaginative to think about the future without much constraint. So much has happened in only 100 years, it is not very reliable to extrapolate recent trends a full millennium into the future.
However, there are attributes of the human being that have persisted for thousands of years. The testimony of ancient literature is persuasive that people at the dawn of history were of like mind and heart with us. We have abundant technology and knowledge, yet our nature is not fundamentally different from those that lived long ago.
Our reflections and projections about the future should acknowledge this reality. Certain principles concerning man and his habitat can be stated as a guide for traveling time's highway toward the future. First, the meaning of life must be rooted in recognition of the centrality of the individual. Each person inherently possesses a dignity to be protected in society. Without this principle we would abandon our commonness, and every individual would be forever subject to the twin evils of destruction and slavery at the hands of others.
Second, man is a social being and finds maximum fulfillment in the social context. All people benefit the most when diverse individual gifts and callings flourish. In economics this principle is reflected as the specialization of labor. In the political context, only a diversity of nations and cultures can fully promote the welfare of man in his social nature. Thus, homogenization of government and culture worldwide is to be resisted.
Third, man's long-term welfare is dependent on a fruitful and resourceful environment. No individual flourishes when the habitat is degraded. The basic dignity of work by every person for physical sustenance must be coupled with environmental stewardship. This stewardship has both individual and common elements, meaning that each person has both individual and societal responsibilities in the use and enjoyment of our common habitat. Appropriate stewardship features are summed up in the concept of an earth trustee, because a trustee is one who has not only the inherent responsibility as an individual for proper earth care, but also the charge to exercise earth-care functions for the common good.
Our view of the future, even the very distant future of the year 3000, should be seen as an exercise of prospective forecasting. We not only want to picture the future but also to help bring about the best future. Recognizing the dignity of each person, the benefits of responsible diversity in human society in accord with man's social nature, and the importance of every person being an earth trustee, will promote the best development of humanity's future.