Humanity is at a crucial juncture in history where crises of immense scale demand urgent action.
It’s easy to overlook the urgency of the times, as the transformative capacity of scientific progress has created an illusion of sociocultural progress. While scientific darkness is in constant recession, the light of justice, sustainability and prosperity, is locked in constant conflict with the darkness of injustice, destruction, and destitution, for control of the world’s social systems.
The organic institutions of the world’s social systems determine the nature of societal outcomes. The failure of these institutions has caused a cultural crisis that is the underlying cause of the world’s staggering challenges.
Jiddu Krishnamurthi, observed that, “it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” The sickness that plagues today’s society is the culture of blind passivity and civic disengagement that is promoted by broken social institutions that influence people’s educational experiences.
The collective suspension of critical thought and social involvement allows disturbing social trends like racism, misogyny, disenfranchisement, oppression, and exploitation to persist and exacerbate covertly. Amartya Sen thereby noted that “democracy is intimately connected with public discussion and interactive reasoning”.
There is a need for a structured institutional effort to promote civic engagement and critical thinking. Such an effort will ensure that responsibility to the public interest is an intrinsic feature of the cultural fabric that binds communities. Bringing about such a cultural revolution will be the defining challenge of the 21st century.
The current generation of students represent a cornucopia of possibility and potential. They must temper blind idealism with strategic pragmatism to fundamentally redefine the institutions that shape humanity’s cultural priorities. These institutions will cast away the tightening shackles of indifference, inaction and ignorance to catalyze the rise of path breaking innovators, responsible policy makers, motivated business leaders and thoughtful citizens.