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Civil Society > Big Democracies at the Crossroads

Bali meeting targets
world troubles personally

By Wilford Welch

Are we moving toward a saner world, or toward a world spinning out of control? The first four years of this century have not suggested to me that we are moving toward a saner world.

Over the centuries, the world has experienced many periods of darkness, such as the Middle Ages, and many periods of light, including the Renaissance. During the past century, technological innovations coupled with a boom in global production and trade have provided people with goods and services to an extent never before possible or imagined, though these have mostly benefited the wealthy populations of the world much more than the poor.

During that same period, however, the world experienced two world wars and numerous civil wars that resulted in the deaths of more than 160 million men, women and children. And if that were not enough to attest to mankind’s self-destructive tendencies, the more technologically advanced countries also developed weapons of mass destruction capable of eliminating all life on the planet in a matter of hours. Equally disturbing is that we have been depleting the world’s natural resources on a scale never experienced before, potentially spurring on ecological disaster on a global scale.

Moreover, we are increasingly out of balance as individuals—with one another, and with the natural world. I fear that we are unconsciously heading toward a period of darkness, and away from the light. And I fear that a major catastrophe may need to occur before we come to our senses and truly work together to create a more collaborative, peaceful and sustainable world for humankind and the planet.

I hope that I am wrong, but I also believe there are some reasons to be hopeful. Hope lies in the increasing number of conscious and committed people around the world with the awareness and the will to initiate a change before change is forced on us by catastrophic events. Hope lies in the increasing number of organizations and gatherings around the world who call out for a better way and take actions to define it and bring this about.

The first annual “Quest for Global Healing” conference scheduled for Bali in early December is such an initiative. It is very much a “call to action” to concerned citizens around the world. The conference arises from the vision that we may be able to create better ways to live in harmony with one another and with the natural world. It rises from a conviction that in this age of instant communication, world public opinion can indeed become a second superpower and serve as a uniting voice of reason and wisdom. It comes from a belief that if the intention and message is clear enough, the right people will “show up” and generate the clarity and energy needed to create a collective consciousness that may save us from ourselves.

The Quest for Global Healing will be held in Bali from November 30 to December 9, 2004 and will feature Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu and other global speakers. For more information, visit or call 800-577-BALI (2254).

Wilford Welch is chairman of the Cross Cultural Journeys Foundation. He is a former US diplomat, global-newspaper publisher and international business professor.