Contradiction between the old and new Disintegration of old social frameworks
Many societies are faced with the contradiction between old and new ways. In some communities technological civilization has arrived abruptly and fully developed, thus disintegrating the social fabric. Local symbol systems, which have informed every dimension of life in traditional communities for, in some cases, thousands of years, have been assaulted by this 'modern' civilization to the point where the residents themselves talk of these systems as 'primitive' or 'superstitious'. As a result, they do not realize how great the past has been. Closely related to this is the fact that there are no images profoundly related to community experience of life which relate to future possibilities. Such shame about own ancient symbols deeply fragments communal life. Cooperative effort, which is always dependent upon shared common symbols, cannot be fostered effectively. The rhythm of daily life, as well as the patterns of weeks, months and years becomes chaotic.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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