Individuals escape from the needs of society by refusing to make any in depth social commitments. The individual floats from one shallow commitment to another or dreams about the past or the future. All demands for concrete engagement in the present are left unmet.
Primary group covenants between people, like marriage, have become sequential contracts and have lost their profundity. The process of getting married and raising a family has turned from a life's work to a frantic search for sexual satisfaction, financial security or release from guilt about the quality of life of one's children. Elders, adults and children have become disconnected from each other's life styles; and care for others has become a peripheral concern. Communities are no longer geographically oriented but are oriented towards work or leisure-time, further creating tensions in basic group relationships. Emotional and spiritual support systems have been eroded by this fragmentation of covenants.
People of the twentieth century aware of the chaotic state of the world and feeling insecure about their own future create illusions of meaning which demean their lives and their work. Rather than have a vocation which is continually risking new directions, discovering new depth to social roles and facilitating more human responses from others, people enslave themselves to these illusions.
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.