Anatomy of the World

in Society

Society is like a human being. Unfortunately, society of today is rather diseased. While some of the diseases are life threatening, none of them are terminal- yet. If diseases can be cured in a manner that they do not recur, we will have a healthy society based on human values. But if the disease persists in even a small part of the world, the human society cannot be said to be healthy.

In order to have a healthy society, every organ has to function without a problem. Every muscle fibre has to do its job. Every cell has to perform its unique function, in its unique environment, effortlessly and ongoing. Thus, if global society can be compared to a human being, it depends very much on the individual chosen. Today, it is diseased and disgruntled. The question is whether by 2050, it can be healthy and harmonious.

What are the organs of the global human society? What holds them together? How does it communicate within itself? How does it feed itself? How does it breathe? What about its eyes and ears? Its tissues, bones and tendons? The global human society has a head and arms and legs. In the world of today, there is little doubt that the head consists of the United States of America, with all the power and glory that go with it. In 2050, the head might still be the United States of America, or it could be Tasmania or Timbuktu. Who the head is, would not be judged on military size and economic strength, but on the quality of its thoughts and actions. The head of the global human society has a responsibility towards all the other countries of the world, to look to their well being and to make sure that they remain healthy and positive in the world environment. But every nation and village and town has a responsibility to themselves as well. Violence as a means of sorting out conflicts and confrontations would not be permissible by anyone, as it would be clear to all that harming any part of society would be harming every part of society.

Every nation in the year 2050 would have a specialized role to play. Some might specialize in producing inventors with brave new ideas, others in putting the ideas on the drawing board and yet others in making them work. Raw materials, natural resources and energy would be the oxygen of society and industrial waste, including nuclear residues and residual energy would be the carbon dioxide, just as they are today. But the lungs of today's society is clogged with pollution and diseased.

The defence system of countries is very much like the defence systems of our bodies. Natural immunities would, by their very nature prevent most kind of invasions by their very structure and composition. For some kind of invasions, the society would develop immunities that it does not have at present; for others, anti-body systems that could selectively target the aggressor. Nuclear weapon arsenals and ballistic missile capabilities are like chemotherapy that kill the diseased and the healthy. Such capabilities would hopefully be a thing of the past.

Vision is perhaps the most important of our senses. Our eyes are a window to ourselves. They also feed us information about the outside world, keeping us abreast of small changes taking place. It is our vision that helps us decide where we want to go. The eyes of the global human society would look beyond the earth, making use of opportunities in our own solar system and beyond. In 2050, our playground and sphere of activity would be far further in the universe than we can even look at through the most advanced telescopes of today.

To survive, one must be able to react to changes in the environment. First of all these changes must be detected. This is where the sense of smell and sound and touch come in. These are senses that give feedback to the political and social systems in society. The sort of political system that is in place is not important if the feedback systems are working in a way that truly reflect back what the people are actually thinking and feeling. Then appropriate systems must be put into practise. Governance would be regulated minutely, like hormonal actions that adjust for the smallest change in the body by positive or negative feedback systems.

Excretion is the removal from the body of waste products. The human society has a poor record of removal of negative thoughts, emotions and actions. This has lead to untold misery in the past in the form of ethnic insecurities, religious intolerance, xenophobia and communal hatred. By 2050 we must perfect this function of society otherwise we will be poisoned to death by our own wastes.

In our bodies, the nervous system provides the quickest means of communication. Communication systems in the future would be based on a system of neural networks, very much like the nervous system of an individual. The advantage of such a system of communication would be that there would be no time lag for information to be transported and available in different parts of the world.

The most vital chemical of life is water. Water provides the medium of all bio-chemical reactions. Water has also played a very major role in the development of societies in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Water can emerge as a source of conflict in the next decades. How we manage our water resources in the next few years is going to be crucial to the health of our society in 2050.

The role of an individual within the society can be compared to that of a cell in the living body. Human beings, like cells, do not exist in isolation (except in petri-dishes in biological laboratories) but are massed together to form tissues and organs. To carry out its various functions, a cell must be in contact with its surroundings, with other cells and with the environment in which it is placed. When there is a perfect balance between the cells and its environment, each compliments the other. Thus, we must also learn to communicate better with others, as well as with the environment. In the last few years, there has been some appreciation of this fact. But to be able to achieve a perfect balance with ones environment, we must have a greater understanding of it. This lack of understanding and concern for the environment is arguably one of the main symptoms of the disease that society is suffering from today. If this is not addressed, the world as we know it will be dead by 2050.

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Ilmas Futehally has 1 articles online

Ilmas Futehally is the Vice President of Strategic Foresight Group, a think tank based in Mumbai, India.

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Anatomy of the World

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This article was published on 2010/04/03