A news item caught my eye this week that is worth us taking a moment to reflect upon.  It is a bit negative at first blush…and I don’t like giving a lot of energy to negative stuff… but I want to attempt to take it to a message of positivity and hope.

The Dire Warning

The Associated Press posted a story reporting on U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and his giving “a dire warning that the world is moving in the wrong direction” and that it faces “a pivotal moment”.  His statement describes how our “continuing business as usual could lead to a breakdown of global order and a future of perpetual crisis.”  Here’s a link to the full story.

Much of Guterres’ comments pointed out the obvious challenges facing the world collectively.  What are those challenges?  You can probably create the list yourself—-the COVID-19 pandemic; the political “paralysis” of nations to effectuate meaningful solutions; climate change; “our suicidal war on nature and the collapse of biodiversity;” the “unchecked inequality” breaking down our societies; rising poverty, hunger and gender inequality; our risk to life and the planet from nuclear war; the ongoing discrimination and injustice bringing people into the streets; the proliferation of conspiracy theories dividing us; and more.

“Our Common Agenda”

On some level, all of us know that we have a major crisis facing the planet yet feel powerless and overwhelmed to do anything about it.  Yet, Guterres’s speech was accompanied by a United Nations report entitled “Our Common Agenda”.  Last year, the world leaders on the 75th anniversary of the United Nations requested the U.N. chief to make recommendations to address the challenges for global governance. This report is that response.

At the heart of the recommendations are what are termed the “12 Commitments”, high level areas where we need to consider joint global action.  These include: leave no one behind, protect our planet, promote peace and prevent conflicts and nine others.  Under each commitment are more specific action goals. 

It’s obvious that a lot of thought went into this list and the overall report.  If we value the planet and our collective future, we should all take some time to review the full report. I intend to spend some time going over it. Here is a link to reading it and downloading a copy.

However, I can say that I did resonate with Guterres’ description of the vision outlined in the report as a  “breakthrough scenario”  needed to create a greener and safer world.  After all, as I frequently state in my writings it is through “breakdowns that we create breakthroughs”.  The Secretary-General is correct when he states that we must work “together, recognizing that we are bound to each other and that no community or country, however powerful, can solve its challenges alone.”

A Similar Call to Action – Be Yourself

All of this made me think of a book I published back in 2012 entitled Be Yourself – Evolving the World Through Personal Empowerment. [Click on the title to read more about it.]

In that book, I described how humanity was at an “evolutionary crossroads” (same as a “pivotal moment”) and that our “current planetary challenges are indicative of a potential crossroads or choice point.”  After detailing many of the challenges facing us (in a list similar to what Guterres lines out), I then stated the following:

“So, what are our choices here?  In one direction lies a world of peace and prosperity, where all humans are valued and have the opportunity to express themselves and succeed. In this world, technology makes life easier, the Earth’s resources are valued, and humanity serves as a good steward of the planet. In the other direction lies a world of violence and scarcity, where humans are in competition for limited resources. Some of us will come out as winners; most will end up as losers with little opportunity. In this world, technology may assist us, but it might overtake us. The Earth is changed for the worse by humanity’s neglect.”

The remaining pages were a blueprint of action steps I believed were important for all of to consider so as to create that world of peace and prosperity.  In an over simplification here, they included: (1) focusing more on our commonalities than on our differences; (2) to collectively maintain a focus on a vision of humanity’s highest potential; and (3) for each of us to “be yourself”, that is the highest vision of who you can be in this lifetime. 

Much of the last part of the book focused on individual exercises that aided you in “being yourself”….identifying your life purpose or calling and finding ways to bring that purpose into fruition into life.  After all, the more that each of us can move beyond survival needs and into “thriving”, the more we each become about serving the greater good.   Think Maslow’s hierarchy and his second tier goals of “self-actualization” and “self transcendence”.

A Shared Vision

Most of us can acknowledge that when a group of people get behind and commit to a shared vision that great things can be accomplished.  And, as Proverbs states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

In my book, where my second action step called for us to come together with a common vision for humanity, I mentioned a number of possibilities including a personal one I created.  Two of those possible collective visions came from the United Nations: the Preamble to the UN Charter and the United Nations Millennium Declaration. For more specific focused action, I pointed to the original UN Millennium Development Goals.  These goals had original target due dates in 2015 and were later updated as the UN Sustainable Development Goals to carry us through 2030.

The validity of these earlier UN documents as a catalyst to focus our vision and our energy is still true.  However, this new….more “emergency” type “common agenda” might be the one that should demand our attention.  I’m not sure yet but will be reviewing it (as should all of us) with an eye to that purpose.


However, here are the key take-aways I want you to get from all of this today:

  • Our planetary crises can be overwhelming and drag us into paralysis.
  • The breakdowns that we are experiencing may be a necessary evolutionary step to take us to our next “breakthrough”.
  • If we can focus on these challenges as a necessary catalyst for our growth, then that positivity can assist us to break the bonds of the paralysis and call us to take appropriate action.
  • The action that we are called to can be much more powerful when we collectively come together towards a common vision.

And what is that vision?  Maybe it is this new UN document.  Maybe it something else.  But no matter what it is, each of us has a vested interest in assisting with our collective evolution by playing the role that is “ours to do and be” in shepherding humanity towards its highest possibilities.

What are you going to do?

Mark Gilbert

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