Session 2 – A Small Global Village
As a species, we humans can survive only within a human society in which everyone works in and performs a certain role. Each has a certain place in society, and with that role, a unique place in the human mosaic is filled. And as human history is progressing over time, we see that we are becoming an evermore complex society where people are increasingly dependent on one another.
We make all kinds of transactions between one another today. We transfer money from bank to bank and from continent to continent, we send ships with all kinds of cargo to every corner of the world, and even if I examine the shirt I'm wearing, I will find that numerous countries took part in producing it and getting it to me for use—the raw materials, their various methods of processing, the design, the sewing, selling, shipment, pricing, advertising, and so on, and the coordination of all of these components together.
These examples demonstrate our growing interdependence today. We are already so accustomed to it all that we take these complex interconnections and dependencies for granted. Even though for now it may only seem to us that our interdependence is primarily commercial, and that it doesn't require any emotional participation on our part, more and more lately, we have begun to see that the interconnections among us have reached such depths of multidimensional dependence, that it requires us to reexamine this, and to participate and coordinate these dependencies with closer contact and a more thorough personal participation, care, and concern.
We are already so interconnected with one another that if something happens in one country, it immediately affects not only its neighbors, but all of the other countries, as well. It is with good reason that today countries allow themselves to interfere with what happens in other countries, or even to demand the replacement of the government, as if it's not its own sovereign state.
An example of such a case is Syria. Countries from all over the world criticize it and ask, "How can you kill your own citizens like that? What is happening to you?" And the Syrian president cannot resist these inquiries, as if it's not his country and he is not its ruler.
Thus, it is clear to us that the interdependence among countries is now a given, and it obligates all of us together. This is why countries come with demands to the various international organizations, since without them we wouldn't be able to participate and exist in trade, science, culture, or anything else. If we want to live in a good way together, we must work to develop a level of culture, education, and approach to life throughout the world that is very similar to one another.
Over the past several decades, tourism has greatly developed and today many of us travel from country to country on a regular basis. It is no coincidence that countries have become much closer to each other in their way of life and worldview. We are all fed by the same few TV networks and news broadcasts, and we have had virtual connection over the internet for approximately 20 years now. Soon we will even be able to communicate without any language barriers at all by using simultaneous interpretation programs. Thus, even those without an understanding of English, the international language, will still be able to be connected with everyone.
Studies indicate that today we are so interconnected that through four people (it used to be six), any person in the world is connected to any other person on Earth. It is almost as if we're holding hands with the entire world.
Today countries cannot do whatever they want, even in their own soil, since we all know that by changing the composition of the land, it might change the balance with the entire Earth's interior, which will affect not only its neighbors, but also further countries throughout the world. This is why many countries made agreements on various topics such as the world's fisheries and other various natural areas where there is the danger that our actions might harm one another, and the world that we share. Each country now has its own quota of toxic gasses that it is permitted to emit into the atmosphere, and quotas for exploiting other natural resources.
In other words, we are beginning to feel more and more that we are living together on one common Earth, that it is our common home, and within it we are all interconnected and interdependent. This is why, if we want to survive, we can no longer do whatever we want to our common home.
Regretably though, we are still continuing to evolve in an egoistic manner, where we are not as considerate of each other and our environment as we need to be, and we do not yet really feel that we are interconnected.
We have even abused the space around our planet. We've sent all kinds of spaceships into outer space, and have already caused significant disorders there in the process. There are numerous chunks of debris and particles in varying sizes floating lifelessly in space now. Sometimes we hear from our scientists that if there is the slightest malfunction or collision of this space junk, it could fall on any one of us at any given moment, or collide with a spaceship or satellite on its way to or from Earth.
There have also been some unpleasant natural phenomena lately, such as the volcanic eruption in Iceland that affected all of Europe, all the way to Siberia, shutting down the majority of airports on the continent. Likewise, the March 2011 tsunami that hit the nuclear power station in Japan affected the entire world, and made everyone rethink whether or not to construct new nuclear power stations, and perhaps to even stop the development of existing nuclear power plants.
Clearly, today no country can establish its own interior policy, much less a foreign policy without taking into consideration hundreds of other international factors. In each and every decision that each country makes, it must consider the effects it will have on the entire world. This is true for even the strongest countries, which now also must calculate their every decision carefully, since we are all so interdependent, that any change in any country will influence all the others.
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In recent years, we have become dependent upon each other on an international, global scale.
- Each and every one of us fulfills a particular function in human society, and therefore all are dependent upon everyone.
- Over the years of human history, people and society have become more and more interdependent.
"This article proposes to go deeper into complex interdependence. The world is becoming increasingly 'information interdependent' and this essay is an attempt to apply the assumptions and concepts presented in complex interdependence to the information age."Scientific Article published in Information, Communication & Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, 2000: "INFORMATION INTERDEPENDENCE: Keohane and Nye's Complex Interdependence in the Information Age"
"This convergence of disciplines reveals the social, transportation and technological networks that make up our world. These networks are, ultimately, made up of individuals. Individuals in turn relate back to the networks and define how they operate."Book Excerpt - "Six-Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age"
"Communication technologies, including the invention of alphabetic writing, moveable type, and the electronic media from the telegraph to the telephone, radio, television, and networked personal computer have increased the unification of the world into a cosmopolitan web of competition and cooperation."Book - "The Human Web: A Bird's-eye View of World History"
"The increase in complexity is directly related to sweeping changes in the structure and dynamics of human civilization—the increasing interdependence of the global economic and social system, and the instabilities of dictatorships, communism and corporate hierarchies. Our complex social environment is consistent with identifying global human civilization as an organism capable of complex behavior that protects its components (us) and which should be capable of responding eﬀectively to complex environmental demands."Report -"Complexity Rising: From Human Beings to Human Civilization, a Complexity Proﬁle," in Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, (United Nations, Oxford, UK, 2002); also NECSI Report 1997-12-01 (December 1997)