Historians may look back and see 2014 as the tipping point when the world started falling apart instead of coming together.
Visionary scientists remain enthusiastic that, thanks to converging new technologies from artificial intelligence to regenerative medicine, genetic synthesis and green energy, our civilization is on the threshold of a new and harmonious singularity. Yet, all around us the signs of splintering abound in revived nationalisms, ardent religious wars and the reappearance of geopolitical blocs. Even the global connectivity of the Internet once thought to embody a world spirit is balkanizing.
To be able to put oneself in another's shoes without prejudgment is an essential skill. Empathy comes when you understand something deeply through arts and literature and can thus make unexpected connections. These parallels bring you closer to things that would otherwise seem far away. Empathy is the ultimate quality that acknowledges our identity as members of one human family.
Fifteen years ago there was much optimism that in an increasingly globalized world nationalism and religiosity would wither away vis-a-vis interdependence. That did not happen. While it is true that information technologies, easier transportation and capital mobility connect us like never before, ultra-nationalism and fundamentalism are on the rise.
Just as Catholics and Protestants concluded in their Wars of Religion, Sunni and Shia have to exhaust one another before concluding that neither side can determine what their religion is to be.
Abd al-Wahhab argued that all Muslims must individually pledge their allegiance to a single Muslim leader (a Caliph, if there were one). Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessions confiscated, he wrote. The list of apostates meriting death included the Shia, Sufis and other Muslim denominations, whom Abd al-Wahhab did not consider to be Muslim at all. There is nothing here that separates Wahhabism from ISIS.
"With the telegraph, the telephone and now, especially, the Internet, suddenly all the world's knowledge is instantly available to any person. That is like one cell in your body having access to all the information about the rest of our body. Clearly, evolution is on a new plane."
Until we engage with all sides, no matter how regressive their attitude, we will never make a breakthrough in attitudes towards women.
When there is conflict in unstable nations, the tide comes in with the strength of a tsunami to drown out the precious advances that women have made in those countries.
Extreme poverty has dropped by half since 1990. In that same time, the number of children who die each year has plummeted more than 40 percent.
Over the past decade, Latin America and the Caribbean have made tremendous progress in reducing poverty and in boosting shared prosperity. Poverty has fallen by half to 12.3 percent. The middle class -- currently 34 percent of the population -- is growing. Meanwhile, inequality in Latin America -- historically the world's highest -- has fallen, even as it rises in practically every other part of the globe. For the first time, the number of people in the middle class surpasses those living in poverty.
Only a few years ago, most western observers believed that the age of geopolitical rivalry and great power war was over. Today, with Russian forces in Ukraine, religious wars exploding across the Middle East, and territorial disputes leading to one crisis after another in the East and South China seas, the outlook is darker. Serious people now ask whether we have moved from a post-war into a pre-war world. Could some incident somewhere in the world spark another global war?
If the next world war is to happen, it will most likely be in Asia and feature a clash between the incumbent hegemon, the United States, and the principal challenger, China. The good news is China does not want war now and in the foreseeable future, primarily because Beijing knows too well that the odds are not on its side. But if we look ahead 20 years from now, in 2034, the odds will have shifted significantly.
"We all need to work together to avoid the Thucydides trap -- destructive tensions between an emerging power and established powers, or between established powers themselves."
While China's economy continues to become more capitalistic, the Chinese definitely do not think America and the West have it all figured out politically or economically, especially not after the 2008 financial crisis. The students The WorldPost spoke with were also sensitive to, and eager to defend their country against, what they perceived as negative American press and sentiment towards China.
"Dostoevsky was both a Western and a non-Western writer. He just despised Occidentalists who despised their own people. Dostoevsky believed, like I do, that Westernization, or now globalization, is inevitable, but it must not lead to the repression of the past, of ordinary people and their culture."
"I am afraid that, in South Africa, we have not done with our freedom what we said we were going to do. And that makes it now the worst of times because it is a great disillusion."
Animal agriculture is responsible for producing more climate change gases than every car, boat, bus, truck, motorcycle and airplane on the planet. Combined.
Today all Mexico resounds with the cry "They took them alive, we want them back alive". If the 43 are ever found, and they are dead (why and where would their abductors be hiding them?), all hell may break loose. Are the president and his cabinet ready for a major upheaval? Police, politicians and judges have been bought off or put into office by the cartels. Mexicans are fed up with living in a pervasive state of corruption and impunity.
"Biological evolution has taken 3.5 or 4 billion years to get us where we are. The adaption of our species to the social environment -- social evolution -- has been much faster. Now that we can read and write the genetic code, put it in digital form and translate it back into synthesized life, it will be possible to speed up biological evolution to the pace of social evolution."