Destiny: Creating Our Global Community

Sustainable, Peaceful, Just

by Robert L. McCan

The purpose of this book is to help readers reimagine the world we want to create, and then inspire commitment to achieve it.

I was 94 years old when I began to write this book and 98 when it was concluded.  Often over the years, I taught seminars on the topic “This I Believe,” in which I sought to help participants examine their own deepest belief systems.  I started this book with a felt need to up-date my own deepest beliefs.  This resulted in a single first page, “My Great Affirmation.” The book emerged from this seed vision — and from almost a century-long life of asking deeply how we can learn to live together, with “liberty and justice for all.”

My Great Affirmation

I am a member of the family called Human.

My home is Planet Earth.

The achievements of Humankind
throughout the ages are my heritage.

My highest priority is the common global good.

We choose to make war obsolete
and nuclear weapons relics,
as we rebalance the thin membrane
of atmosphere around Planet Earth.

Only as we lift others up,
rather than tear others down,
can our survival and destiny be realized.

We create a governing structure,
a United States of Earth,
that makes our planet One—
Sustainable, Peaceful, Just.

Our destiny is bound to that of all humanity
and the web of life on Planet Earth.

What we create together forms our bequest
to the next thousand generations.

DESTINY was written both to inspire readers with the vision of a positive destiny for humanity and to provide a practical blueprint for how to achieve a sustainable, peaceful, and just global community.  At this most important moment in human history, technology is giving us the power to remake the world into a garden of plenty.  At the same time, we face stark, global crises—climate catastrophe, the continuing threat of nuclear weapons, futile reliance on achieving “security” through military escalation, and the horror of global pandemics, as obvious examples.

What do these problems have in common?  Their solutions require global cooperation beyond national boundaries.  We must cooperate in order to survive, and we must prioritize global well-being above tribal or national advantage.  The challenge is stark:  we learn to live together, or we die together, and we are the agents who decide the future of the planet.

For the first time in history, humans can comprehend the whole—the world as a single system—and we have computers to help us manage the complexities contained in this wholeness.  We are making enormous progress.  For the first time in history, half the people of the world are middle class by local standards—no longer struggling to merely survive.

An assumption of my book is that the structures of government we enact, the cultural milieu we uphold, and the quality-of-life conditions we create either help or hinder citizens’ ability to thrive and contribute to the well-being of the whole.

In this book, I address the role religion plays on the road to destiny.  I examine each of the world’s major religions to find universal values and spiritual themes that fully support the vision of a single integrated culture, while celebrating differences.

The world’s people have advanced far down the road of affirming interdependence, as evidenced by the United Nations and its specialized agencies.  We write new global treaties, signed by two-thirds of the world’s nations, at which point they become international law.  Now is the time to take the next step and envision a federal structure for a world government with the power to tax, make laws that apply worldwide, and implement and further develop ways to resolve conflict, so that we can replace the military establishments of individual countries with a system of international peacekeepers.  I call this new level of world government the “United States of Earth.”  Indeed, international legal scholars have already gathered resources for writing a constitution for such a global federation.

The first part of the book presents the vision and explores the human accomplishments and traits that put us on the path toward our goals.  The later chapters move from vision to action, from perspective to prescription, from challenge to practical change that leads to our destiny as a single world community living at peace with justice for all.

There is a tradition of literature that has attempted a holistic vision of future life on Earth.  Three books were foundational to my own global/ holistic perspective:

The Future of Man, a collection of essays by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, was published posthumously in 1964.  Teilhard de Chardin was a French Jesuit priest, a geologist, and a paleontologist, who worked primarily in China.  He sought to integrate the disciplines of science with the insights of philosophy and religion to create an expansive vision of how humanity and the world are evolving.  I quote him in my book: “Whether we consider the rocky layer enveloping the earth, the forms of life that inhabit it, the variety of civilizations to which it has given rise, or the structure of languages spoken upon it, we are forced to the same conclusion: that everything is changing, and nothing is comprehensible except through its history.”  He concluded that human beings are also evolving.  In biological terms, we have larger brains and more developed nervous systems making empathy possible and giving us the ability to consider “the common good” above our own or that of our tribe.

Lester Brown in World Without Borders (Random House, 1972) analyzed world food production and evaluated whether we could produce enough to feed the growing population of Earth.  He reported new ways to increase crop production that offered hope for humanity, setting food production issues in the context of the global community.  I joined the World Futurist Society at Lester Brown’s personal invitation.

Buckminster Fuller’s book, Critical Path, first published in 1978, dealt with human limits, diminished natural resources, population explosion, and paths to global success.  We were honored to have the famous futurist as a guest at Dag Hammarskjold College, the international college I founded.  My book deals with similar issues from a 21st century perspective.

I compare my book, Destiny, to the following three successful contemporary books.

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker (Viking, 2019).  In my book, I comment, “Pinker shows how modern mainstream institutions…including western democracies, international organizations, and global trade agreements have advanced our world far more than we realize.”  He uses statistics, charts and graphs, and other tools of social science to measure our global progress.  Bill Gates declared this book to be the best he has read until now.  Pinker rejects religion as unscientific myth.  My perspective recognizes the potentially positive contributions of the world’s religions, while acknowledging their regressive influences.  My book also offers a more comprehensive roadmap for actualizing the vision.

Yuval Noah Harari’s book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (Harper 2015).  This is an intriguing introduction to a future in which “dataism” becomes paramount, with the prospect that those smart enough to control data will find themselves with the power to control the world.  His vision of the future also includes the human ability to manipulate the genetic code and thus control the kinds of humans produced.  He writes from his position as Professor of History at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  His book has a powerful message: we must beware of technology, lest it control us.

David Attenborough, A Life on One Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future (Penguin Books, Australia, 2020).  The great naturalist and British filmmaker focuses on restoring biodiversity to the planet.  He states, “The natural world is fading….  I have seen it with my own eyes.  It will lead to our destruction, but if we act now, we can still put it right.”  Writing from his own experience, he makes a powerful argument about yet another dimension of humanity’s crisis.

To my knowledge, no other contemporary book extracts the wisdom gleaned from thinking deeply about the human condition and applies it to the major dangers and opportunities facing humanity as a single system.  My personal experience spanning the last century adds insight to the historical record, first as a minister in the south during the civil rights revolution, and then as an apostle of world peace and justice in an evolving global community.

Destiny was written for you, should you seek a cross-cultural, multi-racial, interdependent global future that is sustainable, peaceful, and just.  It speaks to you, lovers of peace and haters of war. It challenges those who want to reimagine a new world and then are ready to join hands and hearts in making it a reality. The book offers strong evidence for hope, but finally, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Hope is the absolute refusal to give up.”

It is offered as a textbook for professors and students at the college level who want to prepare for their future and assess the world that faces them and their children.  It stretches the minds of those in a church-based study group or in a secular book club setting.

Destiny will challenge you to become deeply serious about your world and your role as agent in this most critical era in human history.  Yet, the book is fast paced, written primarily in the present tense, and provides a fresh perspective. It helps you find an ethical code grand enough for life together in a global community.    For many, the book offers to be life-changing and foundational.