‘In twenty years’, ‘In forty years’; these are emblematic phrases denoting the future of humanity at a crossroads. Would such time frame bring about cataclysmic changes beyond human control prognosticated by futurists, or a new future for the planetary civilization? Like Hamlet with his pending question: “To be or not to be” all of us living in the 21st century are confronted existentially with the question of the future of the earth.
Humanity is at a crossroads. Modern society is deeply embedded in the civilizational aporia that is the consequence of growth and expansion. Environmental degradation and depletion of resources, deepening human alienation and polarization, terror and violence, the establishment politics that has lost social confidence: All these issues are more than a half a century old but still with us, awaiting solutions.
The global community has of course attempted to confront these issues in different ways. Economic prescriptions based on efficiency, utility and growth; political responses to buttress these economic measures; and national policies founded on overriding utilitarian values – they have all been the ways in which the global community attempted to cope with the problems of modern civilization. Have they been successful? Sadly we gained prosperity only at the price degradation. We were able to grow only at the expense of uncertain future caused by crisis-prone economy. Is there no exit from this aporia? What must we do to pave a path toward a better future?
The Peace BAR Festival 2016 is an invitation to reflect on what can be done to ensure the future of human civilization. We propose to highlight the inner life of human beings in their quest for a new way of thinking. We aim to open new dimensions of discourse and practice for the future possibilities of human life world. Starting with the question of ‘What I am,’ can we envisage a better future in living with others in human society and with the planet earth? In raising questions such as these, we are in fact exploring the possibility of civilizational transformation. If this is indeed what is needed for the very survival and sustainable future of human kind and the planet earth, we must deepen our wisdom and courage for global collaboration. The survival of future generations is dependent on our doing so.
It is for this reason Kyung Hee University celebrates the 35th anniversary of the UN International Day of Peace by hosting the Peace BAR Festival 2016. Together with the Club of Rome, the Budapest Club, and the World Academy of Art and Science – all renowned for inspiring citizens to take responsibility of the future of the planet earth – we will be discussing our common future. We will thus be moving closer to a global network of discourse and practice to ensure sustainable future of humanity.