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Inside this Issue


The articles in this issue of Cadmus address some of the most pressing opportunities and challenges posed to humanity in the 21st century. Inspired by historical insights, they examine the process of social evolution and the successful and unsuccessful responses that have been the source of earlier crises and the impetus for the great advances of the 20th century. The human mind has a forward looking orientation which tends to diminish the achievements of the past while magnifying present challenges and future aspirations. We no longer regard with awe the remarkable events that led to the sudden end of the Cold War, the collapse of totalitarian regimes, the democratic revolution that spread like wildfire through Eastern Europe and elsewhere, the arms control agreements that ended the nuclear arms race, the dramatic reunification of Germany, the founding and rapid expansion of the EU, the World Wide Web and other unforeseen occurrences that transformed the world during the last quarter of the 1900s. The prevailing cynicism, doubts and insecurity generated by recent events obscure both the lessons of the past and possibilities of the future. These lessons do not mitigate the magnitude of present challenges, but they do offer guidance on how to evolve effective strategies to address them.

Nor is it sufficient that we broadcast loudly the impeding existential threats that loom before us. If it were, surely incessant warnings of the past would be sufficient to compel humanity to act. The most intense warnings will be ignored unless they are accompanied by a positive vision and path to a better future. Although the wealthy may be content to preserve what now exists against these threats, the vast proportion of humanity ardently dreams of a better future and will only respond to a positive message that reveals how they can achieve it. This fact poses a challenge to the intellectuals of the world to develop ideas, formulate strategies and impart the knowledge needed to convert today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities.

Our progress depends on the constant evolution of our methods and organizations. Democracy needs to be freed from the incubus of plutocracy, careerism, falsehood and corruption. It must be recast to fulfill its original purpose of promoting inclusion and universal human rights. Economic systems must be radically transformed to stem growing concentration of wealth and inequality, the mindless exhaustion of scarce resources and pollution that impoverishes the future. Education must shift from transmitting information to passive recipients to actively developing the capacity for independent thinking, problem-solving, creativity and developing the whole person. Bold and original thinking that ventures beyond all known frontiers of knowledge is required. Transformational world leadership based on positive values is needed to reconcile the inherent contradictions arising from short-sightedness, narrow self-interest and dominant centers of social power. These very challenges can serve as propellants for greater progress and well-being.

We hope you enjoy this issue.