As we race forward into the 21st century, mankind’s unlimited ability to prosper will be increasingly testing the Earth’s limited ability to support that prosperity. Over the past 60 years, our global population has tripled from two billion to over six billion people. Simultaneously, the global middle class (defined here as those who have discretion over thirty percent or more of their income) has increased ten fold, from a few hundred million people in the 1950’s to over three billion in 2010. The combination of global trade (of goods and services) and global wealth (assets minus liabilities) have also risen exponentially, from a couple trillion dollars to well over one hundred trillion dollars today. Incredibly, in the coming decades, these numbers have the potential to double, and to double again. Demographers and economists estimate that by 2050 there will be nearly ten billion of us and that over seventy percent will be global middle class or better. Trade and wealth together could easily be approaching $500 trillion. The human race is very good at making money. What we do with our achievements is far more difficult. Forever more, we will not only be looking for the proper balance between our individual wants and needs, but for the proper balance between our aspirations and the limitations of our only home, the Planet Earth.
Up until now, most of us have been focused primarily on what is right for ourselves and what is right for the other people involved in our lives. Little consideration was needed for the people that lived on the other side of the world. But today we live in an increasingly interconnected world and sometimes our need to specialize in our local tasks makes us shortsighted about what is going on in the rest of the world. Unfortunately, our personal goals can blind us into the “us versus them” situations that often end with tragic consequences.
As we rush into this new century together, we are going to need to look at all aspects of the issues we face—not just the trade-offs between “limited and unlimited” but at the very essence of the differences between “you, me and we.” This website’s blog covers a broad range of human issues where there is no single answer. Liberal and conservative political opinions are a common example, especially in America. Both views are relevant. Different people can have different opinions and still be decent people. These differing viewpoints are traditionally regarded as dualities, (or more fluently as “issues,”) because they represent contrasting, yet acceptable aspects of the human experience. But to too many people, their views are often framed as right and wrong, or black and white. Yet when we look at populations as a whole, we see many shades of gray. People can be liberal in some areas of their lives and conservative in others. Normally, we all have the ability to be flexible in our views, but frequently we are not. Too many of us go about looking for the information that supports our views, and wind up refuting anything that contests them.
But recognizing that there are lots of changes going on in our world—like the relentless competition for natural resources, trade, profits and global growth—means that we should be reviewing our positions more frequently. We all have the ability to look at both sides of the issues we face. We need to learn not only what other people are thinking but why they think their way. The Partners Within give us convenient introspective and meditative tools for a better understanding of the elements of balance that our dominant species needs. This will put us in a position to see not only what is in our own personal best interest, but what is in the best interest of all. After all, we are but a single species with a single home to share.
Your comments are welcome.