Voice of the Jaabc Editors
Requisites For A Global Golden Age
For the sake of clarification, let me begin by making one thing clear: According to the American Heritage Dictionary (Fifth Edition, 2016), Golden Age is defined as a period of great peace, prosperity, and happiness. In the Greek and Roman mythology, Golden Age is referred to the first age of the world as an "untroubled and prosperous" era during which people lived in ideal happiness. Hence, achieving a Global Golden Age would seem to depend on world "peace and prosperity" which would naturally translate into happiness. Is the world ready in the 21st century to be bestowed with a Golden Age epithet? Let us search for an answer to this sixty-four thousand dollar question.
It is hard to believe that the Greeks enjoyed a Golden Age back then when on the mainland as well as on the southwestern Anatolia, they were constantly in fear of massive invaders from the Persians, resolute on conquering the Greek city-states. Romanticizing the past is easy, but the facts point in the opposite direction even in modern times. True, during Pericles' lifetime, Greeks enjoyed the so-called Golden Age of Athens perhaps in material aspects such as prosperity, but surely not in terms of peace and tranquility. What about the bloody Peloponnesian Wars with Sparta? More about this later.
Historically, the idea of the Golden Age was used in Greece. The earliest mention of it appears in the 6th-century-B.C. works of the Greek poet Hesiod's Works and Days. Hesiod, a deteriorationist (one who believes that things tend to grow worse), identifies the Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, the Heroic Age, and the Iron Age. With the exception of the Heroic Age, each succeeding age was worse than the one that went before.
Hesiod, furthermore, proposes that during the Golden Age, before the invention of the arts, the Earth produced food in such quantity that it precluded the need for agriculture. He explains that men lived like gods without sorrow of heart, remote and free from toil and grief; they escaped the miserable age, and with legs and arms never failed to make merry with feasting beyond the reach of all devils. However, when men died, it was as though they were overcome with deep sleep, and they had all good things to enjoy for the fruitful (bountiful) Earth provided them effortlessly abundant fruits without any restrictions. This was the Golden Age at its best.
If Hesiod were to visit the Earth in modern times, he would say that the world is not ready to have a Golden Age yet. Colonization, empire building, religious persecution, slavery, women being treated as second class citizens among other human rights violations prevent the conclusion of having a Golden Age of the world anytime in the past --ever. We speak of the Golden Age of Islam, the Golden Age of Athens, but never the Golden Age of the world for it has never happened in the past except in Greek and Roman mythology.
Unlike the search for the fountain of youth by Pointe de Leon, prophesies for a golden age of the world have been made by many over the years. Prophecies of the Mayan Calendar (3114 B.C.), Bible Prophecy (735 B.C.), Michel de Nostradamus (1503-1566), and the recent Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), the U.S. clairvoyant, including others have pointed to a future time of Utopia for humankind. Although these futurists differ in the timing of events, they all agree that there are many signs that something big is about to happen. Presently, many people believe that there is a widespread awakening of global consciousness that will result in a Global Golden Age for humankind.
Then there are those who believe now that the world is in one of the greatest periods of crisis in the history of humankind. Many people are now looking for hope and answers in science and technology. The 21st century technology is going to save the world from apocalyptic forces.
The contention here in this editorial is that we live in a Golden Age of technological and medical, but not social/political progress. The computer has revolutionized the world in so many ways by transforming the world into a village. For most people, life cannot be imagined without the Internet or the Web. Medical breakthroughs sound like magic when one speaks of cloned organs, stem-cell therapies destined to repair our DNA. Life span longevity is on the rise; in some countries, people are living longer by five hours a day to double their life expectancy.
Hardly a day passes without the media bringing to our attention new cures for cancer, for diabetes, for heart decease and the like. These hopeful moments are eclipsed with equal frequency when the media broadcast of nuclear proliferation, racial discrimination, famine, terrorism, pestilence, and so on and so forth.
Despite the accelerating advances in science and technology, humankind lags behind in social/political progress. To those with the elasticity of the mind would see this era of unparalleled innovations to be subject to destruction unless nations learn to collaborate and cooperate with one another to find solutions to global problems. A current example is North Korea vs. the United States threatening each other for all out armed conflict. War is the eraser of all established civilization of humankind.
First World War and the Second World War retarded the coming of the Golden Age of global peace and prosperity. We are on the verge of a third world war. Here is an example of how the Greeks had locally attained the Golden Age of Athens for a short period of time and what war had done to them. More simply put how war reversed the Golden Age to a mere existence replete with existential fear from foreign invaders, notably the Spartans and the Persians.
The much-publicized Golden Age of the Athenian culture flourished under the astute leadership of Pericles (495-429 B.C.) Pericles was a brilliant general, orator, patron of the arts and politician. He was considered "the first citizen" of democratic Athens, according to the historian Thucydides. In the face of external threat to the sovereignty of Greece, Pericles transformed his city's alliances into an empire and graced one of Athena's hills, the Acropolis, with the famous Parthenon. However, his policies and strategies also set the stage for the devastating Peloponnesian War, which would embroil all of Greece in the decades following his death.
The Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC) was an ancient Greek war fought by the Delian League led by Athens against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Against the growing power of Athens under Pericles, Sparta began to feel threatened and began to demand concessions from the Athenians. Pericles refused to acquiesce. In 431 B.C., armed conflict between Athens and Sparta's ally Corinth encouraged the Spartan king Archidamus II to invade Attica (near Athens). As a war tactical strategy, Pericles evacuated the Attica countryside to deny the superior Spartan armies anyone to fight. Securing the safety of the people by rounding them up within the city walls of Athens, Pericles was free to make seaborne attacks on Sparta's allies.
Although this costly strategy paid dividends during the early years of the war, a plague hit the crowded Athenian population behind the walls, many people died and the rest became discontent. As a result, Pericles was briefly deposed in 430 B.C., but as the Athenians' efforts to negotiate with Sparta had failed, he was quickly reinstated. This long war put an end to Athen's Golden Age for losing its peace and prosperity for years to come.
Another example of how the world is heading toward national/international conflict is happening in modern times. When the Soviet empire crumbled, new states emerged. Within their territorial lines, they included many minorities within the confines of their former Soviet republics. Many minorities are denied autonomy or preservation of language and culture. In the name of territorial integrity, the government crushes any minority demand for autonomy. Maybe territorial integrity principle based on might to be replaced by the democratic principle of self-determination. When that happens, the Messiah, the Golden Age (of Gaia) will arrive in the world. The point is that drawing of territorial lines without any regard to indigenous people's rights to live free and independent in their ancestral lands is casus belli.
Territorial disputes remain a significant source of current and frozen conflict in international relations, representing an important share of international (interstate) and domestic (intrastate) cases brought before international tribunals and courts. By examining 129 territorial disputes between 1950 and 1990, Pual Huth proposes an approach built on the belief that powerful explanations of security policy must be built on the recognition that foreign policy leaders are domestic politicians who are very attentive to the domestic implications of foreign policy actions. His work is a contribution to our understanding of how and why some territorial disputes escalate to war.
The world has become a volatile place due to minorities awakening for autonomy, freedom and independence for the preservation of their culture by correcting historical wrongs. The wrongs have to be corrected in the following global issues, child labor, abolishment of native language, marginalization of indigenous culture and tradition, practice of religion, poverty, famine, human trafficking to cite a few. These are universal issues, the world has to solve before it qualifies for achieving a much-coveted, but an elusive Global Golden Age.
According to many social scientists, the world is in political, social, religious, environmental, and economic turmoil. Political instability, for instance, has pushed the world on the verge of war. Some speculate that the world is heading toward self-destruction very soon. Nuclear proliferation, arms race, unabated famine, unemployment, terrorism, climate change, pestilence are eclipsing the viability of the world. A man-made "Big Bang" is expected to explode within a few years. Currently, the world is facing frightening kinds of diseases such as the recent pneumococcal bacteria, a new strain of deadly bacteria known as killer klebsi plague (klebsiella pneumonia from China) and the list is disturbingly long.
History tells us that there are instances of Golden Age happening in certain countries, or cultures. For example, we say the Golden Age of Islam, the Golden Age of Athens during Pericles life, etc., but we have never had a golden age of the world. Now, we are heading toward one if conditions are right to achieve it. Without certain serious prerequisites, the world will never, ever achieve a Global Golden Age.
The world will always fail to achieve a Golden Age unless it meets also the following self-explanatory prerequisites, the contingencies for a civil world community: Human rights and the rule of law; Freedom of speech; Return to Age of abundance; Religious discrimination; Racial discrimination; Self-determination (not territorial integrity); Business Fraud; Dangerous products (to humans and the environment); Data breach; Identity theft; Suffering from debt and financial stress; Territorial disputes and ethnic conflicts; Numerical Superiority (as a basis for conquered territorial claims); Equal pay for equal work; Email addresses and passwords become obsolete, etc.
The arrival of the Golden Age depends on man's maturity toward a number of major issues. Among them are the fair and just treatment of women, equal pay for equal work, no sexual harassment, and no job discrimination on gender and so on. Global Golden Age also hinges on world collaboration and cooperation to eradicate or compromise on man-made differences such as in religion, race, creed, numerical superiority, economic prowess, etc.
For some, the list of the most urgent and critical global problems facing humanity in the 21st century include: Terrorism, war, human trafficking, religious tolerance, self-determination, biorisk reduction, nuclear security, climate change, smoking in the developing world, factory farming, land use reform, health in poor countries, over population, and environmental degradation issues. Without finding solutions to these problems the global civilization would remain in peril.
For 70 million years, man as the first primate has been shaping the world with his tools and weapons. Of all the creatures on earth, man is the only one who has consciousness that he is more than a mere animal. He knows that he is related to other forms of life, and he knows about his epic journey from primitive state to a civilized existence.
Man has developed tools and weapons for self protection and for dominance over nature and over other men by waging war. Locally, man has established Golden Ages through great civilizations, yet because of greed, he has lost all that glory through war and pestilence. A good example is the Sumerians who built one of the world's earliest advanced civilizations, but the war between their city-states made them lose their Golden Age.
Early man learned the benefit of working together to become superb hunters and fishermen. Within clans, he collaborated and cooperated with each other; however, between clans he became an internecine killer all because of competition for territory and resources. Till today, man kills for land and other resources.
The early man moved from caves to outdoors. He learned to live together in families, tribes, and towns. Yet because of land and other resources, he fought to death with other families, tribes, and towns. Modern man still clings to this tribal instinct.
When will humans meet the requirements for a Global Golden Age, one may wonder? The dream for the Global Golden Age will be realized at last when a giant rainbow casts its wings across the world sky with the words "End of..." inscribed, for example, on each of its unfolding, colorful petals: End of Aids, End of Cancer, End of Race Discrimination, End of Terrorism, End of Women Subordination, End of Hunger, End of Diseases, and most importantly, End of Wars because wars destroy peace and prosperity, the two quintessential requisite ingredients for the attainment of a Global Golden Age.
It has been said that the Earth is our common home. Any damage to the environment and fellow human beings is a crime against humanity. Without peace and prosperity, the world cannot achieve a Global Golden Age, but with the advances in science and technology hopes for "One" seems to hover tentatively on the horizon.
Z. S. Demirdjian, Ph.D.
Senior Review Editor
California State University, Long Beach
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