Humanity has entered its age of planetization politically and socially deeply divided into nations, races, ideologies, religions, languages, rich and poor. North and South, East and West -- all these divisions being a source of actual or potential conflict. Nevertheless, there are also several emerging elements of hope:
Each group knows that if it goes too far it might destroy human life on this planet and itself in the process.
Each group begins to realize that it can no longer hope to conquer the entire world.
The multiplicity of the groups and the variety of their alliances more often than not cancel each other out, producing increasingly zero-result games.
The existing competition and variety of beliefs can even be considered as a natural and unavoidable biological process out of which the right form of our future will emerge.
Science, technology, trade, level, transport, and communications in a thousand forms inexorably mold humanity into a closely knit, interdependent unit. Wars and political adventures are becoming increasingly difficult and unproductive in such an interdependent world.
There exists today for the first time a universal organization in which pent-up feelings can be aired, conflicts and differences ironed out, and a thousand bridges built between competing values, beliefs, claims, systems, and powers.
Since 1970 a new evolution has been sweeping our planet crying for attention and overshadowing the current political divisions: the population explosion, the environmental crisis, the world shortage of food, the energy crisis, the economic slowdown, and the limits of growth. Humanity has been forced to reach to these crises in a series of unprecedented world conferences.
Behind the political turmoil, humanity is setting the stage for its planetary age. It has investigated our planetary home from every possible angle in the United Nations, in the UN's world conferences, and in the UN's 34 specialized agencies and world programs, producing a beautiful Copernician picture of our place in the universe from the infinitely large to the infinitely small: outer space, our relations with the Sun, Earth's geophysics and climate, the atmosphere, the biosphere, the polar caps, the arable lands, the deserts, the mountains, Earth's water, animal life, human life, plant life, the planet's crust, minerals, and energy, microbial life, and the world of the atom.
Similarly, the international community is looking at the human condition from every possible angle: the world's population, standards of living, health, nutrition, education, employment, races, rich and poor, women and men, children, youth, the elderly, the retarded, the blind, down to the individual's hu man rights.
Is there any recent evidence of this current" Yes. The UN will hold an International Year of Disabled Persons (1981), a conference on new and renewable sources of energy (1982), a second conference on outer space (1982), and a World Assembly for the Elderly (1982). And the General Assembly has just agreed to hold new major North-South negotiations which will this time include energy and petroleum.
Thus, year after year, humanity is progressing slowly but surely toward the perception of the fundamental challenge of our time: how to achieve good, happy, peaceful, and fulfilled lives for several billions of people on a miraculous but limited little planet in the universe. And it is responding to the global growing pains and warnings: the population explosion, the environmental constraints, the limits of our resources, etc.
And this is only the beginning of the story. We still have to enter the age of world morality and develop a proper ethics for our planet; we still have to enter the age of world spirituality and elicit the cosmic laws that should rule out planet in the universe and in time. This was the message which Pope John Paul II left with the UN: morality and spirituality must catch up with humanity's enormous progress in the material and intellectual fields. We still have to reconcile the past with the future; we still have to find harmony between our extreme, rich diversity and the need for world unity. Whatever the outward wounds and groving pains might be, we must not lose sight of the deeper currents of our present time and of the new coming age. Throughout the UN system the year 2000 has been taken as a target. This augurs well for a world-wide Bimillenium Celebration of Life in that year.
In any event, after 32 years of service for the world community, despite the failures and follies, the horrid armaments, the incessant peripheral conflicts and excessive risks of world accidents, I would still unhesitatingly throw my gauntlet for the success of the human race on this beautiful God-given planet.