CONTEMPORARY SOCIETIES IN SEARCH OF IDEALS

Financial data show that since the end of WW2, the living standard of people around the world has greatly risen. Societal polls, however, show that during the same period, there has been a deterioration in the cohesion and in the solidarity among different social groups as well as in establishing future goals that are broadly accepted. These observations remind us of the golden rule: what is gained in quantity, is lost in quality. This general concern leads some socially sensitive individuals and groups to search for ideas which will interconnect the poll results mentioned above. This search for new ideas is developed in contrast to the increasing trend for introversion of many nations and their elected governments.

As a starting point of our reflection, we require the answers to the following question: what life choices does an individual make, after he/she has satisfied his/her needs for food, shelter and clothing? The answers by the citizens of a country to this question lead to the general trends of communities and governments in democratic societies. The two most common answers to the question at the beginning of this paragraph are the following: a) constant accumulation of goods on a personal or on a family level and b) cooperation among the members of society at large, leading to production and sharing of material and immaterial assets of general usefulness to society. Option (b) is obviously the better one, and the one we are proposing in this editorial.

    The ideals of each state express long-term national hopes which have been formulated by historical or geographical data combined with the dynamics of that particular society. They are also connected with key ideological choices, based on religious, cultural or political considerations. It is during times when these conditions coexist that people mobilise in order to manifest them. Whether these ideals are achieved or not depends on the cooperation among the members of a particular society and it requires that these people put the common good above their personal interests. The bigger the cohesion within a particular society and the greater the cooperation of its members, the shorter will be the road towards actualisation of these ideals.

Introversion within a particular society (see paragraph 1 above), leads to governments with isolational and aggressive policies towards other nations, increasing conflicts and distancing from cooperation and solidarity goals. Isolationism and aggression invariably lead to clashes and violent confrontations, as it has been proven many times in history. However, there is a much better alternative: the search for ideals (see previous paragraph) which are in harmony with the contemporary development of humankind, such as the principles of some transnational organisations, i.e., the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, the World Trade Organisation, the UNESCO, the European Community and other related institutions), which were formed as a response to the catastrophy brought upon the world by WW2. These principles can be further developed, so that they correspond more precisely to today’s realities. During the many decades since the foundation of these transnational institutions, we have seen some inefficiencies, but also many effective interventions and resolutions of crises at times of conflict and violence. There is enough data basis, so that these organisations can become even more efficient institutions. For the new effective course of action of the transnational organisations, individual governments need to have a common understanding for cooperation and solidarity within the global village. This common understanding is based on the value system of the citizens who elect their governments in a democratic fashion. In this way, the ideals that were established by individual state governments at the end of WW2, can be redefined, modernised and updated so that they correspond to today’s realities.

    These broadly-accepted ideals and their general principles allow enough leeway for defining individual national ideals, which, however, should be based on peace and international cooperation. They also allow room for defining more specific common goals and targets within the societies of each nation. In Mani, we too can define similar ideals, updated and in harmony with today’s realities, but also based on the principles that our heroic ancestors have left us.

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