The lack of access to clean water and arable land is an increasing problem for many people around the world – and the struggle over these limited resources provides fuel for war and conflict, especially in those parts of the world where the population is exploding. We must work to ensure access to at least the most basic of natural resources, such as safe drinking water, for all.
Racism and the growing divide between rich and poor are endemic, and it is a problem that affects all of us. There are two societies in most countries – one which is a reflection of the media image of prosperity, and one that is hidden and full of suffering. This is creating a tremendous time bomb, ready to go off at any moment, and making it easier for demagogues to fuel hate and to rule by fear.
One of the effects of globalization is the spread of disease, and the potential for devastating new diseases to ravage humanity. National boundaries no longer mean what they once did. The rapid movement of people and goods means that many “third world” diseases are now threatening the developed world, and have now become the problem of everyone. We must address these diseases together, as one human family.
Our world cannot be secure when so many billions of people are forced to exist on less than $1 per day, without access to even the most basic levels of shelter, sustenance, or education. Extreme poverty can be eliminated in our lifetimes, and this must remain a fundamental goal.
The lack of basic human rights and civil liberties, and the persistence of social injustice over long periods of time with no hope or plan for progress or change, always creates a backlash. To try to impose a military solution without addressing the fundamental issues at the core of a society will only feed the growth of paramilitary groups, violence, and lack of security in that society.
It is essential to bring an end to the exploitation of children, and to defend the basic human rights of women around the world. This includes the right to a decent education. The role of women and youth as leaders in local communities, in developing creative solutions to problems, must be fostered and encouraged.
The earth is our mother, and it is wounded. It is out of balance and needs to be healed. Global warming is a reality, and only by a concentrated effort involving individual citizens, civil society, and our government leaders can we address the many causes for the precarious situation we have created for ourselves here on earth.
It is incomprehensible that the world still wastes nearly a trillion dollars each year on the weapons of war. We must change our values and our priorities as we enter the 21st century. We must end the ever-increasing spiral of expenditures on arms, both nuclear and conventional, which only serves to increase the likelihood of violent conflict.
In order to create increased security in this new world in which we live, we must focus on the issue of human security. When we ensure that basic human needs are met, we are creating a more secure world. When we work for social justice, or to stop global warming, or to provide decent education, or to end racism, we are creating a more secure world. The time has come to shift our energy and our resources from military security to a long-term investment in true human security.
One of the first things that we must do is to dismantle our own armed consciousness because we are children of a culture of violence, and our minds have been armed. Peace is the grand revolution that humanity has been waiting for. What is required is a profound understanding of the new realities created by our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.