Huge cemeteries on the outskirts of cities and impersonal funeral rites help to keep the fact of death away from the living. In the big cities the ceremonies of death have been increasingly undermined. Once beautifully simple forms of mourning have been replaced by synthetic memorial parks, plastic flowers, and servicing conveniences. The small graveyards of parishes and neighbourhood churches which once put people into daily contact with the fact of death, with its grief and sometimes with its joy, have vanished, replaced by cemeteries owned by corporations far away from people's daily business and family lives.
When circumstances prevent them from making contact with the experience of mortality, and living with it, people are left depressed, confused or diminished. This is not only true about death, but is true also about attitudes towards dying: the two facets cannot be separated.
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.