The Four Phases of Society: Where Are We Going in the 21st Century?

The Four Phases of Society: Where Are We Going in the 21st Century?

The Four Phases of Society: Where Are We Going in the 21st Century?

The Four Phases of Society: Where Are We Going in the 21st Century?

Synopsis

Why is Western society in a state of moral crisis despite material affluence? By looking at the historical evolution of society, Peeters helps to explain this contradiction and predicts that a new form of society will emerge during the first decades of the 21st century capable of solving today's problems.

Excerpt

In the lives of all of us, many, if not most years, pass by unremarked, almost imperceptibly. Yet if we are lucky or if we have tried to live a life that is worthy of the name, then one year sometimes stands out in all its particular beauty and importance, giving meaning to the word life.

For me it was my sabbatical year 1981-1982 which I took to research the problems of development in Africa, Asia and Latin America. I set out from Brussels with my wife in an old Land Rover which was to be our mobile home, crossed the Sahara and entered black Africa. Here my firmly entrenched European habits soon clashed with African reality. So it happened that after only three months I had already accumulated a two-month delay in my carefully planned itinerary. It was obvious that if this journey was to be of any use and if I was to learn anything at all, I had better throw all ingrained notions of time overboard, let the stress drain from my system, and just live each day as it came. the result was that we spent the whole year in Africa.

Yet, for me this journey was a revelation. I enjoyed every moment of profound freedom, tough though it was at times. This was real freedom, not only to come and go as we liked, but also an escape from the safety-net of western social security, its system of insurance and the protection it offers against the vagaries of life. Any errors we made, any misjudgments, had to be paid for personally and immediately, not in impersonal money but in fatigue, work, and physical suffering. There were no other people on whom to place responsibility for one's own actions. When we found ourselves in difficult situations we were helped out by Africans with their bare hands and their enormous goodwill. It was a real lesson in humility.

Returning to Europe was a culture-shock. Having been away from the modern society in which I had lived for so many years, I saw it now for the first time as . . .

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