The onrush of change has become so drastic that people are utterly confused as to what the situation actually is, what may eventuate from it, what they want instead, and what needs to be done. And while the very essence of human society is being transformed, the economic and technological glamour of its achievements conceals from our sight that these unceasing waves of change attack the very roots of our individual and collective life. We thus fail to perceive the danger element inherent in uncontrolled growth. Phenomenal increases, rapidly approaching critical maxima along exponential curves, are happening in population, pollution, energy release, speed, automation and other key areas revolutionized by technology. In the change dynamics of these interacting factors lie the reasons why mankind is confronted with such an unprecedented complex of explosive problems. But we do not yet seem ready to realize that the time has come to plan and act on a scale and in ways capable of matching the new thrust and threat of events.
Considering the situation in these broad and essential terms, we must recognize that very little is being done to redress it and set human fortunes on a sound and reasonable course. Even during the intense, sore-searching political debates of 1968, no indication emerged that any of the macro problems of our age are being seriously tackled in either the United States or Europe. Nothing has been said or done which goes to the heart of the great questions besetting man and society, on which our common future depends.
The imperatives and opportunities of our time will stay hidden if we do not painstakingly seek for them. This search has to be based on a much deeper understanding of the fundamental conditions and problems of our time. It demands stature, vision and commitment, it presupposes willingness to innovate and capacity to organize and control innovation, and it requires willpower to lead, and then patience to wait for consensus. Over the next few years only the peoples of North America and Europe, acting together, can supply the impetus for this great change of direction; and then only the cooperation of all advanced peoples – East and West – can maintain the world system in a general direction of civilized development.