WORLD FUTURE FUND
TEACHING TOLERANCE, UNDERSTANDING,
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GLOBAL EDUCATION PROJECT
Since the late 1990s the World Future Fund has been collecting data for itsGlobal Indicators Project. This project monitors environmental, economic, and social problems that affect humanity around the world. We have assembled this data into a collection of comprehensive Global Indicators Charts and Graphs which illustrate the dire nature of these problems. This data shows beyond the shadow of a doubt that humanity currently faces dangers concerning environmental degradation, pollution, economic decline, and diminishing natural resources. These problems will only continue to grow worse in the coming decades unless action is taken to reverse downward trends.
Corrective action must come in the area of increased governmental involvement in the regulation, protection, and use of natural resources. We do not believe, however, that government involvement alone is the answer. An equally important part of the solution to global problems is fostering tolerance and cooperation between the world's major religions and cultures.
In order to create a spirit of cooperation it is essential that people of different cultures develop a greater understanding of cultures and peoples that are not their own. Evidence suggests, for example, that radicalism in the Middle East grows out of misconceptions of Western culture as decadent. In turn, these misconceptions fuel terrorism and violence, which widen the gulf between Islamic and non-Islamic cultures.
We believe that violence and conflicts between peoples and cultures can be lessened through education and understanding. It is therefore vital that we study of history, religion, culture, and philosophy from a global point of view. This is why we have launched our Global Education Project.
LOOKING BEYOND A "WEST IS BEST" CONCEPT OF HISTORY
It has been said that history is the study of the past through the lens of the present. We believe this is a dangerous point of view. Time is a great judge of reality. It is critical that we do not get distracted by potentially short term events in making judgments about the past. The current dominance of the world by the West is a relatively short-term event when compared with other periods in history. Maybe it is a "New World Order". However, this idea has not been tested by time, and as is noted in our study of global indicators (see the Global Indicators Project), the current "New World Order" has critical problems and weaknesses. Put simply, the "New World Order" is a house of cards that will not continue to stand in the future if drastic changes are not implemented.
Unfortunately, until recently the teaching of history, religion, and philosophy in the West (particularly in the United States) has displayed a dangerous ignorance of non-Western history, leading to misconceptions about the role of the West in world history. Our goal to take an impartial look at the past and place the West within a global perspective.
Of particular relevance to our study is the connection between the ancient East and West. There is significant evidence to suggest that classical Greece was very much an ideological melting pot for ideas from the East and the West. There are, for example, amazing similarities between many of Plato's teachings and ancient Indian philosophy. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Indian troops with the Persian army participated in the invasion of Greece. The Persian Empire, which stretched from the Indus River in the east to the Mediterranean Ocean in the west (see our Map of the Persian Empire), played an immensely important role as a geopolitical and cultural bridge from Asia to Europe.
Examples of commercial interchange between the East and the West also abound. The Silk Road was opened in the Third Century B.C.E. The monsoon winds were discovered at about the same time, leading to a huge expansion of trade between Alexandria, the intellectual capital of the Hellenistic Greek world, and India and China (see our Map of Hellenistic World). Cleopatra herself dressed in Chinese silks.
From this example it is clear that Ancient Greek culture was thus a fusion of Eastern and Western thought, trade, and interaction. In seeing societies from a global-historical perspective like this, people can develop a greater appreciation for non-Western visions of politics and culture.
THE ROLE OF AMERICA IN TODAY'S WORLD: THE LESSONS OF HISTORY
The importance of East-West relations is no less significant today than it was in the ancient world. This is true particularly in the United States. The U.S. can play a crucial, positive role in today's world if it sees the multicultural nature of its people as an asset and not a liability. As a truly "world state" in terms of its inhabitants, the United States can serve as an example of people of different faiths and cultures living together in peace. Unfortunately, however, there are forces in the United States that want to impose on the nation and the world their vision of the one true "American" culture and faith. Paradoxically, perhaps, the "religious" advocates of this point of view derive from groups like the Assemblies of God, whose "Christian" theological vision only appeared in the last century.
America needs to learn from the political and religious evolution of cultures like ancient Greece as it moved from the Classical era to the Hellenistic era. Before the geopolitical revolution of Alexander the Great, Greece did not even exist as a unified land. It was a small collection of city states. After Alexander unified Greece politically, it became a global force in politics and culture. And as it expanded, Hellenistic Greece incorporated good ideas from the new lands that it ruled.
In modern-day America, people need to learn more about other cultures and incorporate their good ideas into a global vision of religion and philosophy. This will not be an easy task. However, America could point to its nature as a multi-ethnic state to show the world how people can work together. Immigrant communities and foreign language speakers in the United States could be organized and mobilized in order to get this message of cooperation and tolerance out to the world.
Changing the way that Americans and others see the world is not easy. We certainly do not suggest that we can do the job alone. However, we do believe that we can make a positive difference. We need to expand the network or organizations that we work with. We also need to boost our research efforts. It is essential that we get help to meet our goals. This is why we need your support.
We have spent a considerable amount of time assembling what we believe are among the highest quality links and texts that are available on these subjects. We provide these links in the hope that study of them will encourage tolerance and understanding between the world's religions and cultures. Many of the links provided here are in languages other than English. Foreign language links have been included in an effort to help people from all over the world understand each others' cultures.
A link to translation web sites has also been provided so that
English-only speakers can explore our foreign language links. These
translation sites can also be used by non-English speakers to read the content
of sites that are exclusively in English.
WFF GUIDES TO WORLD RELIGIONS AND PHILOSOPHIES
WFF GUIDES TO SPECIFIC CULTURES AND AREAS OF THE WORLD
WFF GUIDES TO WORLD MEDIA
For more on media and popular culture around the world see the World Future Fund's Global Media and Popular Culture Project
Many of the resources we list on our site are in foreign languages. In order to make these texts accessible to as many readers as possible we have also created a list of the best translation web sites.
Our goal is to use the power of the Internet to educate people around the world about cultures and religions that are not their own.
In particular, we want to use our web site as a portal to educate political leaders. The information on our site is organized for busy people who have little time. These are the people who can have an impact on making policies here in the United States and abroad.
Under no circumstances do we plan to engage in any kind of partisan politics, supporting or attacking any political party and so on. However, we do plan to monitor political developments in key countries and publish relevant news and documentary material about what is going on. We also want to study these countries in order to make sure that we are placing historical and documentary material on the web that relates to current events.
An absolutely essential part of our plan is a global view of history – not a “west is best” or “west only” view. This means giving careful attention to a global view of world religion and philosophy.
In the long run we want to make the site multilingual so that it can reach a wider audience. We are aiming at the major nations of the world. The following languages are chosen for export: German, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and Spanish. Since the cost of translating everything into different languages would be very high, some priorities will be set that relate to the particular language involved. We have already researched and linked to the best automatic translation web sites. However, these translations, while a giant step forward, have severe limitations in terms of accuracy. Fortunately, technology is moving forward and things are likely to get better.
Our immediate needs focus on staffing the Global Education Project. We need to fill the following positions:
here for more detailed information on budget)