There is a natural, interdependent connection between our inanimate environment and the animate beings of every kind, including ourselves, who inhabit our earth. That interconnection closely links human beings with every other sentient being who shares our vast earthly home. Because of that link, our present generation of human beings has a responsibility to make efforts towards the goal that all living beings share. That goal is to be free to live together in peace and harmony, for the sake of everyone’s happiness.
Our generation has seen the results of the western world’s educational focus on the material world. This focus was established in the past as the right direction for education to take, in order to create a happier and better world,. If this educational focus had been placed within a more comprehensive vision of fulfilling all the needs of the world’s people, and not only their material needs, then by now, we could already be living in a peaceful, fulfilled world.
This materially oriented education has, instead, succeeded in raising a generation of people whose lives have been overshadowed by the development and use of nuclear weapons. The whole generation, raised in the shadow of a threat to the continuity of life on earth itself, is socially complicated and deeply conflicted in its interactions with the material worlds of politics, economics and popular culture. What we see embodied in this generation is the outcome of their materialistic educational system. The world they inhabit is excessively complex, a distracted, outwardly focussed world, completely preoccupied with material gain. This leaves the door wide open for materialism to control and to devastate our whole planet.
Technological developments that are now widespread throughout the world have brought people increasingly closer to becoming subservient to their own machines. This artificial, unstable way of life has, in reality, begun to consume the earth. So it is high time that we redirected the values of the prevailing educational system away from the goals of becoming successful consumers and aim them instead, towards promoting our most fundamental human values.
The upbringing of future generations will have to provide a balance, through two kinds of education: the kind that nurtures inner development through beneficial, traditional values, basic morality and ethics, together with what can be called modern education, which we require as a tool for the healthy development of our economy, in order to meet our material needs.
If we were able to create a generation in whom both these educational elements have been combined, then those people with a balanced education would be able to function naturally, in a complete way: like birds who have two wings, instead of only one. These people would truly be able to make long term contributions to the healthy development of our world.
If the purpose of education is to teach people how to become healthy in mind and body, and if this purpose is fulfilled in such a way that everyone who receives that education does become mentally and physically healthy, then we can say that we have been successful. The ultimate goal of helping individual people to become educated is to make a happier, healthier and more peaceful world, through their beneficial interactions with others.
Although modern education lacks health-giving qualities, we can’t really do without the practical, technical elements of modern education. We can, however, combine ethical, values-based education with modern education in a comprehensive program. Then perhaps we can achieve a beneficial balance, one that will support the development of healthier people who can actually contribute to making a better world, for themselves and everyone else.