Militant individualism Repression of self-consciousness Repression of elements of the personality Retreat into ignorance Letting subordinates take the rap Shifting responsibility to the collective
There is a current tendency for people to attempt to maintain their individual stability, order and peace, by retreating into a private universe and avoid all encounters which would wake them up. They attempt to control personally their intellectual contexts and social structures, preferring to be bound by habits and institutions, reduced images of security and well being. Social controls are used to deny the things which they would prefer not to know. Only life styles which seem to be successful in this attempt to remain asleep are pointed to as significant ways to participate in society: the modern experience of the struggle to be significant in society is often called the rat race. The result is a feeling that social structures are crumbling, roles are becoming meaningless and impotent, and participation in decision-making processes are ineffective.
When there are radical changes in the external world and familiar social environments disappear, people have no way of recognizing their personal significance in the universe nor of understanding their own importance. In order to shield themselves from the threat of being exposed to larger questions, they bury themselves in their jobs, families and leisure activities, and leave everything else out. They no longer function as self-aware persons.
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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