Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Sharing the Future

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Sharing the Future

Article excerpt

LOOKING towards the future, I think UNESCO's role could be summed up as fighting for human dignity and solidarity, both of which are inseparable from respect for freedom.

North and South alike are doomed not only to suffer the same endemic ills that go together with underdevelopment but also to consume the same products, whether they be dreams or material goods, exported by the industrially developed nations. In both, we are witnessing the growth of sprawling monster cities, with their mixture of splendour and squalor, vast agglomerations where alienation and the worst kind of solitude, that experienced in the midst of crowds, are rife; where extreme poverty radicalizes the emotions and the longing for justice degenerates into hatred and violence; where the well-to-do, blinkered by their own affluence, see no promise for the future other than that held out to them by "market forces" alone.

Well-being, democracy, freedom and education are not rewards to be conferred by one set of people and gratefully accepted by another. They develop, find expression, take shape and attain fulfillment in each one of us. Scientific and technological advances are indeed necessary in order to facilitate this process, but they need to be applied judiciously and in moderation, since if they go too far they could have the opposite of the desired effect, lulling and inhibiting us and making us the slaves of our handiwork instead of its masters.

A single road

This is why I would assert that the culture of peace calls, at all levels of decision-making but especially at the highest level, for a clearsighted and at the same time open-hearted perception of the historic change now under way.

We must not cling to the past, merely taking stock and laying stress on past achievements. Time has become the most valuable of commodities, and we do not have enough of it. Since we cannot draw up an inventory before we set out, we shall have to do so as we go along. We have to set off on the road to the future, without undue haste but resolutely--the same road for all, not just for a chosen few, involving a process of change whereby civil society progressively comes to occupy those areas of activity that the state will have to hand over to it. The creation of ever-wider interfaces, especially at the local level, is absolutely essential if, in spite of wounds that are still fresh and painful, there is to be a reconciliation. Regardless of our different outlooks, we must all unite so that our paths converge and combine into a single road, pluralist and integrated, where each is mindful of our common future. …

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