World Citizenship: A Harmony Renaissance
by Rene Wadlow
President /Association of World Citizens
At a time when humanity is increasingly working together to meet ecological challenges and to overcome ideologically-led strife, world citizens (www.worldcitizensunited.org.) call for a cultural renaissance based on the concept of harmony. Rather than concentrating primarily on conflicts, struggles and suffering, world citizens focus on cooperation, coexistence and visions of a better future. Harmony includes tolerance, acceptance, equality and forgiveness of past pains and conflicts. It leads to gentleness, patience, kindness, to inner peace and outward to relations based on respect.
World Citizens stress that inspiration for a framework for a harmony-based renaissance can come from the classical philosophies of China: Confucianism, the teachings of ‘Master Kong’ (551-478 BCE) and Daoism, associated with Lao Zi who lived at the same time. Both put their emphasis on the Dao (the Way) and the working of the dynamic balance of Yin and Yang. (1). Harmony is a universal common value. The meaning of life is to seek harmony within our inner self. Humans are born with a spiritual soul that develops to seek self-fulfilment. Our soul has a conscience that elevates us. As our soul grows to its maturity, we achieve our own harmony.
However harmony is not only a personal goal of inner peace but a guideline for political, social and world affairs. Specifically at this moment in history, our action should enhance peace, reduce conflict and activate a harmony culture. The 21st century is the beginning of a Harmony Renaissance. Our mission is to be ready for humanity’s next creative wave to lead us to a higher level of common accomplishment. The World Harmony Renaissance will bring the whole world into action for this new millennium of peace and prosperity with unfettered collective energy.
There was an earlier period in Chinese thought when there was an important Harmony Renaissance. This was during the Sung dynasty (960-1279) which reunited China after a period of division and confusion. This was a period of an interest in science — “the extension of knowledge through the investigation of things." It was a period when there was a conscious effort to bring together into a harmonious framework currents of thought that existed in China but often as separate and sometimes hostile schools of thought: Confucianism, Buddhism, philosophical Daoism and religious Daoism. These efforts were called Tao hsuch — the Study of the Tao” — an effort later called by Westerns “Neo-Confucianism."
Chou Tun-yi (1017-1073), often better known as the Master of Lien-hsi, was a leading figure of this effort. He developed a philosophy based on the alternation of Yin and Yang, each becoming the source of the other. (2)
Thus today, after decades of conflict when the emphasis of the countries of the world both in policy and practice was upon competition, conflict and individual enrichment, there is a need for an emphasis on harmony, cooperation, mutual respect, and working for the welfare of the community with a respect for nature of which humans are a part. When one aspect, either Yin or Yang, becomes too dominant, then there needs to be a re-equilibrium.
Obviously it takes time for this re-equilibrium to develop a harmonious society at home and a harmonious world to be put into place. The re-equilibrium of the energies of Yin and Yang do not take place overnight. The cultivation of harmony must become the operational goal for many. As Mencius (372 – 289 BCE), a follower of Confucius said “ A trail through the mountains, if used, becomes a path in a short time, but, if unused, becomes blocked by grass in an equally short time.”
1) See Arthur Waley. Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China (London: Allen & Unwin, 1939);
2) See Fung Yu-Lan A Short History of Chinese Philosophy (New York: The Macmillan Co. 1950).