Future of Humankind – a Required Paradigm Shift in Values and Attitudes

Sooner rather than later, one day, a big chunk of mankind will be headed boldly for another place in our Galaxy, where no human has gone before. It will undoubtedly be a challenging experience but will also be full of inherent potentialities. The future will literally be in their hands. The big question is, shall we end up repeating the experience we have encountered here on earth, or shall we try to make it into something different that we can be proud of?

It will largely depend on what type of governing structure our future explorers manage to place in position. Will it be based on the patterns of one of our existing ruling models? perhaps that of the prevailing superpower or would we have learnt that approach had been discredited and we must find a fresh model managed by a restructured and upgraded United Peoples Organization, perhaps an outgrowth of the current United Nations.
In any case, it would greatly assist the pioneers if they can access a model devised at leisure by the best minds of days gone by. Let us imagine being the planners of that mission and try to identify what should be their guiding principles and paradigms.
The best part of the exercise may turn out to be that the structure that emerges would not only assist the needs of the imaginary future emigrants but be directly applicable to the world of today in meeting the multifarious existential challenges facing us squarely today i.e., Climate Change, population explosion, declining non-renewable resources, the spread of WMD’s and the recent rise in extremism etc.

Guidelines and Principles of the Proposed “Paradigm Shift”
1. It is a self-evident Truth that all Men are born equal (Jefferson). There are no superior races, no chosen people, nor any promised lands. The laws of nature hold equally for all.

2. Freedom of Choice must be ensured. There can be no compulsion in Faith or belief. But along with Freedom of choice comes Accountability. We cannot ignore that we are fully accountable for our deeds. We shall reap what we sow.

3. Just like there are physical laws ruling the Universe, there also are natural moral laws governing
human conduct, from which none can escape.

4. Values of the Age of Reason and Rationalism must rule the day. But alongside that, it needs to be accepted that “Matter is not all there is”. Science, though dazzlingly successful, has its limitations.

5. Humankind has evolved through a long process of growth through Physical, then Chemical, and later Biological Evolution. It then entered a stage which may be called Intellectual Evolution or the rise of Consciousness, which gives humans their uniqueness.

6. The Human brain is the acme of Evolution. It is what principally distinguishes us from animals through its high degree of consciousness. Thus, all activities which hinder the free and proper use of this superior faculty deserve to be discouraged including the use of intoxicating drinks, or drugs and similar substances. Even matters like getting truly angry, or to be overcome by pride or arrogance or even blindly following a Cult leader or political ideology must be discouraged vigorously.

7. Nature has endowed life with an extremely high value (almost Infinite). We really are children of the stars. This is well recognized by both science and religion but unfortunately not by the prevalent economics theory, which happens to be the ruling paradigm. Economics values things based on supply and demand considerations and nature has made the creation of life plentiful, easy and pleasurable, leading to a low value. Engineering, on the other hand, basing value on the cost of materials plus the energy used plus labor employed gives a truer picture.

8. Technology is driving us inexorably towards globalization, but our political, economic, social, cultural, and religious institutions have failed to keep pace and develop in line with the growing needs. A paradigm shift in our outlook is essential. As Einstein reportedly said, “Problems created at one level of consciousness cannot be solved at the same level”.

9. The “Wall Street Syndrome” based on extortive Capitalism and the corroding effects on society of the “Hollywood Complex”, a heady mélange of stimulant sex and wanton violence, constantly on the increase, needs to be curbed.

10. The absolute requirement of Justice for all, but justice which is tampered with Compassion. The emphasis to be on the prevention of society’s ills rather than cure.

11. Meritocracy to hold supreme. No undue favors for the privileged classes, no old-style caste system in new bottles, no racial or other discrimination to be permitted.

12. Speaking the Truth is fundamental to society along with the need for correct witnessing, under all circumstances. No exceptions to be allowed. Witnesses must not wait to be summoned, it is their obligation to come forth and bear true and faithful witness to provide the evidence required for arriving at a just judgment.

13. War may be allowed to the aggrieved when peaceful means fail, but limits will have to apply. Retribution must never exceed the initial aggression, and even then, forgiveness is better since it has an overall healing influence on society. The common homilies, “All is allowed in love and war” are patently false. Similarly, “My country right or wrong” must not be taught any longer.

14. Need for an economic balance in society. Resourceful classes should not get a chance of exploiting the poor and underprivileged. The power of money should be controlled. Monopolies must not be allowed to form and exploit.

15. Need for a welfare state is almost obvious, but private initiative and drive also needs to be encouraged. The dignity of labor and freedom of capital needs to be ensured.

16. Enterprise needs to be balanced both by appropriate laws but equally by working towards a paradigm shift in our overarching value system that will emphasize the need for compassion and equity.

17. Humans undoubtedly have been endowed with the ability to exploit resources and forces of nature. It must not be done indiscriminately and carelessly, to avoid unsustainability. An attitude of trustee rather than an owner is called for towards nature and non-human life.

18. Competition is the essence of Life, but it must be mixed with Cooperation if strife must be avoided and to each getting their due share to bring about a win-win situation, like a well-oiled team.

19. As Churchill stated, Democracy has its weaknesses, but it is the best political system developed to date. However, its emphasis needs to be shifted from securing of “Majority vote” to the “Consultation/inclusion of all stakeholders in the process of governance”.

20. Nationalism has outlived its usefulness if there ever was any. It is a totally outmoded concept now, grossly out of tune in our rapidly technologically advancing and the increasingly globalizing world and yet it remains the ruling paradigm in today’s world. Any wonder humanity has tied itself in knots. We must grow out of this syndrome and replace it with a new order more in tune with the requirements of our increasingly globalizing world.

About author

Tariq Mustafa

Dr. Tariq Mustafa is an accomplished senior-ranking Pakistani government official, diplomat to the United States (by special commission of the President of Pakistan), a space technologist, World Bank Advisor, and honorary Naval Commander educated across three continents; N. America, Europe and Asia.

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