Passivity, when considered as a virtue either by religions or secular authorities, can be interpreted as a justification for inaction in the face of social problems and human suffering. Essentially this is a failure to distinguish between checking the instinct of revenge for personal or collective injury, and active concern to remedy the sufferings of others. Such absence of moral resentment, in the presence of oppression, lawless wrong-doing, or trampling on the rights of others, undermines social organization. Mere passivity on the part of a group or nation whose just rights and liberties were imperilled would mean the abdication of its true place and function. Equally forms of passivity enjoined upon people by such groups to discourage formation of coalitions against inequities constitutes a direct hindrance to human and social development.
Certain religions, notably Christianity and Buddhism, strongly advocate passivity, passive obedience and submissiveness, and passive endurance in the face of the pressure of the hostility and hatred of the world. Whilst this may be understood as being the spirit which recognizes that suffering is an indispensable law of the spiritual life, it can also be interpreted as justifying inaction on social problems.
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.