Individuals, peoples and societies in crisis need to evoke heroes from the past and create or identify new ones. However, the present limited number of heroes recalled as role models is aggravated by over-use in the case of the more-recognized ones. Attempts by some societies to coin or invent new "heroes" has had only short-lived success.
At present it is the media that create images, so that although there may be an adequate number of remarkable beings embodying the greatest virtues, most of them have no commercial or other sponsors to see that they are immortalized. True contemporary heroes and heroines often remain unnoticed, as front-page stories concerning violence and social aberrations take the centre of attention.
Excellence can be promoted by emulation or competition within local groups or social or work units. Leaders in such small units set the example by their qualities and, in addition, offer personal contact, encouragement and support to others. There is no need for greater-than-life-size heroes and poster heads looking down on the masses.
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.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.