Rituals affirming the interconnectedness of the human and nonhuman worlds exist in every primitive culture. This suggests that the tendency of humans to separate from the rest of the natural world has very ancient roots. Though beliefs can be discarded with relative ease, tremendous energy is needed to effect substantial transformation of the assumptions culture imprints on each person from birth. In the rituals of tribal cultures, some individuals step out of their human roles to put on the mask, costume and mind of an element or animal or plant or creation story; then re-enter the human circle in that form and by song and movement, convey a greeting from the other realm. In this way the whole society consults the non-human powers.
The Council of All Beings is a modern ritual, based on the premise that we already possess within us the knowledge we need, and what is necessary is to bring it to conscious awareness. This ritual weaves together three important themes: (1) mourning - giving voice to what we know is happening to the planet and acknowledging the pain and loss of this awareness; (2) remembering - our rootedness in nature and (3) speaking from the perspective of other life forms - allowing ourselves to choose or be chosen by a plant, animal, or landscape feature, speaking for that form, invoking the power and knowledge of these forms to empower us, and inspire creative suggestions for human action. The ritual enables us to transcend our narrow egos and to act not just from our own opinions or beliefs, but on behalf of a larger Self, the Earth; inspires us to shed apathy, fear and despair, and to experience renewed energy for finding ways to protect the earth and future generations.
Noted psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, believed that modern mind was mistaken in thinking that it could dispense with such ceremonies and act effectively upon our interconnectedness by a mere decision of the will. We need to reclaim the power of ritual.
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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