The State of the World - A Millennium Message
By John McConnell The Founder of Earth Day
July 28, 1998 -
As we approach civilizationís Third Millennium we are faced with both
formidable dangers and auspicious opportunities. There is now, more than any
time in history, an urgent need to examine the state of the world -- its
history, dangers and possibilities -- in order to determine how we can come
together, avoid catastrophe, and cooperate to achieve our common goals.
An agenda is needed that will appeal to people of every age, culture and
creed. The following can accomplish this purpose:
EARTH TRUSTEE FORMULA FOR A BETTER FUTURE ON PLANET EARTH
"LET EVERY INDIVIDUAL AND INSTITUTION NOW THINK AND ACT AS A RESPONSIBLE
TRUSTEE OF EARTH, SEEKING CHOICES IN ECOLOGY, ECONOMICS AND ETHICS THAT WILL
PROVIDE A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE, ELIMINATE POLLUTION, POVERTY AND VIOLENCE,
AWAKEN THE WONDER OF LIFE AND FOSTER PEACEFUL PROGRESS IN THE HUMAN
To successfully apply the formula let us first consider the resources
available for our task.
To help us be objective imagine for a moment that you are a visitor from
another planet. When you are informed of the amazing web of life that covers
our globe, the raw materials and natural resources that abound, the magnitude
of our knowledge and now the skills and technology at our disposal, you would
be dumbfounded at the poverty, pollution and violence that covers our globe.
The basic problem on our planet is the failure of people to look beyond the
problem, see the solutions and act on them. An ancient saying tells us, "Where
there is no vision the people perish." The Earth Trustee vision, policies and
agenda can appeal to the most people and do the most good for people and
planet. It can appeal to the logic and strength that belongs to "simple and
ACCENT THE POSITIVE
While people may use different words to describe their efforts, here and there
around the world are success stories of efforts to eliminate pollution,
poverty and violence -- to educate, cooperate and achieve worthwhile community
goals. Giving these success stories a common Earth Trustee label will
strengthen these efforts and foster support for a global agenda.
AGREE WITH YOUR ENEMY
A major policy that will facilitate success in cases where differences arise
is to constantly look for and acknowledge important points of agreement. In my
own efforts to help resolve differences between Soviet and American leaders
(which succeeded on several occasions) I persuaded both sides to cooperate in
matters of importance in which they agreed -- in spite of strong differences
in other matters. Their joint actions in environmental matters and in Space
then led to better communications and aided resolution of differences.
My own view of this approach was the result of my heeding the words of Jesus
who said we should agree with our adversary, or enemy. This did not mean we
should agree with something we did not believe, but that good will and an
honest effort can lead to something important on which adversaries could
WHERE WE AGREE
Let us then agree that we all are interested in what life is all about. And
would like to see a better future for ourselves -- and our children. We should
be able to agree that in today's world of cyberspace we are all so connected
that problems anywhere will eventually affect us. Our best chance for the
future is to pursue policies and choose actions that applied worldwide will
WHAT HISTORY TEACHES
To understand what is best we should look at what history teaches. Since the
dawn of history every generation has seen both love and hate, fear and trust,
violence and compassion. Through the centuries, one's loyalty to tribe, clan
or country was repeatedly used for fighting, ever seeking more land, wealth or
power. Power schemes were based on the idea that success will go, not to those
who are right but to the force with the stronger weapons. Even today there are
those who believe that bombs help us get "Peace through Power." While cities
joined to form states and nations formed power blocks it was always to counter
other groups with power of money and weapons. Finally, the League of Nations
and then the United Nations sought peace through understanding. But the
patterns of loyalty and fear of "the other" caused repeated failures. Spite
and revenge won the day.
The failures of the past do not necessarily condemn any new effort to failure.
There has been a measure of success from time to time in history where
religious faith provided creative altruism that was stronger than political or
nationalistic rivalries. "This Freedom Whence" by Charles Wesley Brady,
described the Wesleyan revivals of the 18th Century that countered social
injustice, political rivalries and slavery with "Strength To Love," which
later was the title of a book by Martin Luther King Jr. The efforts of William
Penn and the Quakers were a positive force for relations with neighbors. Also
important was the success of Ghandi in India's non-violent revolution.
There are new factors in the state of the world today that taken advantage of
could finally enlarge our loyalties to include the whole human family. The
enemy would no longer be other people, but instead would be the ignorance,
poverty and injustice that is found in any part of the world. The key to
defeating these enemies of humanity is the spread of solutions that are
working. Now Internet can help make this happen.
Religion at its best has taught altruism and from time to time fostered
peaceful progress. On the other hand, in the past, differences in creeds about
the mysteries of life and death have many times resulted in conflict, violence
and sometimes war. This need not be. We all respond emotionally to icons of
belief which have formed as a result of our personal experiences. One of the
best men I know, a man who has saved millions of acres of wilderness forests
from being destroyed, has no religious belief. He said he did not have time to
study things that are unknowable. And then he added, "The worst wars in
history were fought in the name of religion." He is a thoughtful man. His
experience and thought had left him with this view.
On the other hand, while what he said was true, I believe many of the greatest
victories over difficulties have been the result of religious belief. In my
own case I was once in prison, because of my religious views on war and what
should be done about it. Placed in solitary confinement I was limited to bread
and water. I refused the bread for 11 days -- losing 40 pounds. I was without
light or heat in what they called "The Black Box." Afterwards I was released
and charges against me were dropped.
The thing that sustained me in this soul wrenching experience was the words in
a song by Catherine Booth of the Salvation Army. Over a hundred years ago she
was imprisoned in a French cell where she had to fight off the rats. While
there she wrote, "Blest beloved of my soul. I am here alone with thee. And my
prison is a haven, since thou sharest it with me."
Coming back to my environmentalist friend, the interesting thing is that while
he has no interest in questions about God and we disagree on its importance,
my friend and I firmly agree and have supported each other on environmental
issues. Focus on common ground will prevent going to war over differences.
The world will be a far better place when people are taught to accent the
positive and work together where they agree -- regardless of differences in
other matters. The way to bring this about is to spread the Earth Trustee
vision and agenda by word and example. Be an Earth Trustee. Have some project
that will help achieve Earth Trustee goals. Persuade any group of which you
are a member to adopt the Earth Magna Charta and its Earth Trustee agenda.
The following is a future that "Could Be." These ideas are to help achieve
a new global positive state of mind and lead to vigorous efforts for Earth's
rejuvenation. Following is a possible scenario - beginning in 1999. (At this
writing -- July, 1998 - most of the following has not yet happened. It can
and will happen when enough people decide to do what they can.)
A Wish For the New Millennium:
MIRACLE PLANET TO ADOPT EARTH TRUSTEE AGENDA
The Secretary General of the United Nations issues a statement summarizing the
role the annual Earth Day Ceremony at the United Nations has played in
bridging differences and inspiring cooperation for mutual global goals. The
President of the General Assembly announces a resolution has been unanimously
passed in the General Assembly approving global celebration each year of Earth
Day when the Peace Bell is rung on the first day of Spring.
Earth Day 1999 and each year in the New Millennium will be celebrated
worldwide on Nature's Day, March 20-21. Leaders of every religion are invited
to consider Earth Day a holy day with special services related to peace;
justice; stewardship and care of the precious skin of life that covers our
With the help of radio, TV, press and World Wide Web the moment of equinox on
Earth Day will be observed as a global minute of silent prayer, a time for
heartfelt dedication to think and act as responsible Trustees of Earth. To
continue and strengthen commitment, daily Earth Minutes will follow.
Cities And States
The state of Alabama has issued an Earth Trustee Proclamation. Its city of
Decatur is engaged in asking every young person to register as a Young Earth
Trustee and volunteer for work in one of the many organizations that need
help. Many youth organizations --church, school, environmental, health -- are
increasing their membership and efforts. They are making their communities
"Earth Trustee Communities" -- rapidly reducing pollution, poverty and
To aid these efforts the local radio and TV stations are featuring daily Earth
Minutes and reporting on solutions being discovered and progress in pursuing
the Earth Trustee agenda. Actions and progress are reported on Decatur's Earth
Trustee Web Site. New environmentally sound production and marketing provide
more sales and jobs. Interest and replication is spreading to other cities. TV
networks are monitoring the spread of Earth Trustee efforts. As religious
leaders and celebrities in the performing arts discuss possibilities, boards
of major corporations meet to plan how they can help the effort. Politicians
and TV anchors now use items in the Earth Magna Charta to measure the harm or
help shown in actions of individuals and institutions.
Bethel, Connecticut has adopted the Earth Magna Charta and is engaging every
segment of the community in making their town an example of the power and
benefit of the Earth Trustee Agenda. Earth Trustee Forums and Message Boards
on Internet are spreading the idea around the world.
Nations And Continents
Reports are coming from other countries of independent Earth Trustee efforts,
using the Earth Magna Charta as a guide for policies and actions. Nepal
announces adoption of the Earth Magna Charta and is urging the United Nations
to follow suit. Saudi Arabia approves the Earth Magna Charta and in accordance
with its agenda uses two percent of its oil revenues to provide homes and
education for the disinherited poor in neighboring countries. Iran is
Austria adopted the Earth Magna Charta and its United Nations Center now
provides a World Wide Web Earth Trustee Information Center. Their interactive
systems can assist Earth Trustee efforts worldwide.
Pope John Paul II and Billy Graham call for global observance of the daily
Earth Minutes and participation in Earth Trustee efforts. The Pope stated,
"The strength of simple clear souls can now bring the changes needed." Billy
Graham said, "Let us prove the power of our faith in a future life by our
works in this life."
REPENTANCE AND RENEWAL
December 22, 2000: A day for Repentance and Forgiveness. This day, just
three days before Christmas has been repeatedly observed as "Minute for Peace
Day." This began in 1963 when we ended the period of mourning for President
Kennedy. In facing the auspicious opportunities and responsibilities of the
new millennium it is important that we put the past behind and make the New
Millennium a New Beginning for humanity. In the Third Millennium let people,
governments and institutions of every kind be judged - not by what they did in
the 20th Century - with all its hate and violence, but by what they do in the
21st. While some are far more guilty than others, there is enough guilt to go
all around. Its time to forgive and forget, to repent and renew. Now is the
time for love in action to prove its power.
Star Of Hope
To provide a new symbol of hope for the new millennium, NASA announces they
will launch the Star of Hope Satellite, which has been approved by the General
Assembly. It will have a polar orbit and be seen each night on every
continent. Flashing at the rate of a newborn child's heartbeat the Star of
Hope will be as bright as Venus. It will contain a memory disk with the names
of individuals from every continent who have mailed their names to the United
Nations declaring their intention to think and act as Earth Trustees. The
Satellite will also radio reports from the United Nations on Earth Trustee
progress. The Star of Hope will be launched on Earth Day, March 20-21, 2001. A
child looking up at night may say, "That's the Star of Hope. My name's in it.
I'm a Trustee of Planet Earth."
As the New Millennium begins a new global attitude results in common sense
solutions to human problems. Instead of people in needy countries heading for
what they think would be better prospects in crowded cities, they are being
helped to form small Earth Villages where they are trained to operate
computers with interactive systems for information and production. Cyberspace
is now providing new systems of supply and demand that by-pass bankers and
their unfair control of money and credit.
Through the spread of World Wide Web people everywhere are able to tap the
latest solution in food production, home and community design, energy supply,
products and travel.. Music, dance, art, education and religious institutions
also benefit from the Earth Trustee vision and agenda. More people have
leisure to enjoy concerts, recreation, be with their families and pursue the
great mysteries of life, "Why are we here, where are we going?"
The United Nations is now strengthened by a World Council of Communities that
provides more decisions and responsibility at the grass roots level. In the
Year 2001 the United Nations celebrates Earth Day with the ringing of a new
Peace Bell in Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus. People of all creeds and
cultures join in the global Earth Day celebration of thanksgiving for love and
life on our miracle planet. A new millennium, an Earth Trustee Millennium, of
great promise has begun.
"Could Be" You can make a difference. This scenario will succeed as you
and others who read this, each do something to help. Also, tell your friends
about it. Go to:www.earthsite.org and fill out the form - which will register
your intention to be an Earth Trustee.
We need words and actions - actions that give meaning to the words. Post
Earth Trustee reports and plans by your city, business, school, church or
other institution in Message Boards and Forums that will spread participation
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