The Age of Nations is Past

“The Age of Nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the Earth.”



How are we to respond to a new era of isolationism in the northern hemisphere and an evolving courtship between the USA and Russia that has many independent states of the former Soviet Union holding their breath? How are we to respond to the emergence of a new US President who, in his first 10 days in office, officiates more like an all-powerful emperor than a successor to Abraham Lincoln? How are we to respond to all forms of violent religious and political fundamentalism that sees legitimacy only in their own limited and limiting worldview?

The talk of building walls, patriotism, nationalism and the use of language that is unbecoming a statesman, leaves little room for the poor, the dispossessed and voiceless, nor for the care of the earth. Sub-Saharan Africa is non-existent, other than excluding its refugees.

There is an unspoken narrative emerging that one can hear in the gut: “We don’t care about anyone but us; we’ll do what we want with little regard for the consequences, other than when they impact us; and if you have something we want, we’ll take it. And, if you try to stop us, we’ll crush you!”

It is profoundly unchristian and, in an even broader sense, profoundly inhumane, for the future of all humanity, in all its diverse and colourful guises, has real cause for concern.

Following WWII, which saw the use of two atomic bombs, concerned scientists came together under the title ‘Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’. With a broad historical understanding of the impact of the human species from its emergence on Earth until now, they established the Doomsday Clock to highlight the dangers posed by nuclear war, with Midnight representing Doomsday.  In 1947 Scientists placed the Doomsday Clock at 7 minutes to Midnight. On the 26 January 2017 scientists moved the clock forward by 30 seconds so that it now stands at 2 minutes 30 seconds to Midnight.

The Bulletin’s editor, John Mecklin, issued a statement explaining their reasons on the 70th anniversary year of the initiative:

“… This year’s Clock deliberations felt more urgent than usual. On the big topics that concern the board, world leaders made too little progress in the face of continuing turbulence. In addition to the existential threats posed by nuclear weapons and climate change, new global realities emerged, as trusted sources of information came under attack, fake news was on the rise, and words were used in cavalier and often reckless ways. As if to prove that words matter and fake news is dangerous, Pakistan’s foreign minister issued a blustery statement, a tweet actually, flexing Pakistan’s nuclear muscle—in response to a fabricated “news” story about Israel. Today’s complex global environment is in need of deliberate and considered policy responses. It is ever more important that senior leaders across the globe calm rather than stoke tensions that could lead to war, either by accident or miscalculation… “

The full statement issued by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists may be read here:

The late great scientist and astronomer, Carl Sagan (1934-1996), once described the earth as a “pale blue dot” in a

The Pale Blue Dot

Cosmic ocean – “a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.”

He continued:

“The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot… There is, perhaps, no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than [the] distant image of our tiny world. To me it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only one we’ve ever known.”

A moving 5-minute video of Sagan’s words, and more, may be viewed here:

Teihard de Chardin

Those who have been privileged to soar above the earth as astronauts talk of its beauty and the absence of political borders. If we are to turn back the clock and offer a future to all our children, our only hope is a deeper humanity and a worldview of a common home to be shared by all.

The visionary French Jesuit, palaeontologist, biologist and philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), foresaw the stirrings of our crisis, and expressed succinctly our only hope when he said:

“The Age of Nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the Earth.”

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