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Significant Trends and Theme of the 21st Century
Age of a single person is normally calculated in days, months and years. On the contrary, at a collective level, the age of a group or nation is generally measured in decades and centuries. The collective approach of duration is referred as era or age. An era manifests collective character traits or theme of one or more generations. In this article, we have pithily discussed some interesting dimensions relevant to the 21st century's theme.
According to the dictionary, the subject or main idea in a talk, a piece of writing or a work of art is called theme (1). For example, the theme of a place is manifested through its landscape. The theme of a story is understood by its deduced lessons. The theme of an essay is reflected in its summary/abstract. The theme of a human being lies in his/her purpose of life. Likewise, the theme of an age is revealed by the overall profile, ideational and practical, of the relevant generation(s).
Age is an arbitrary concept. Let us assume hypothetically, commencement of a certain era is an empty plot and ideas are seeds of varied plants. When these seeds are sowed into the spacious lawn (ideational efforts) and preserved properly (practical efforts), they evolve into dazzling flowers and wondrous trees, occupying the bare space and turning the garden into a lively landscape. Symbolically, it signifies, the ultimate theme of an age is outcome of human creativity, natural endowments and, obviously, Eternal Divine Rules.
By and large, an age has three durations i.e. 25, 50 and 100 years. The 25 years period reflects the ideational-practical profile of only one generation. The 50 years age frames the living-thinking method of two to three generations. Again, the 100 years era, also called a century, brings into limelight the thought-patterns/work-patterns of three to five generations. In view of that, a minute and comprehensive analysis of the relevant generations is required for an accurate description of the theme of an age covering a hundred years span.
There are different ways of addressing an age, each having a distinctive origin. For example, the western historians define all epoch-making events with the reference of the demise of Jesus, son of Mary. Muslims define age and her themes with the reference of migration of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from Mecca to Medina. The Prophet's era was a marvelous and allegoric summary of themes of all ages that will come into reality in future course of time. It has been succinctly proclaimed by Muhammad (PBUH) in a prophetic commentary: "I have been sent (as a Messenger) in the best century of all the generations of Adam's offspring since their creation."(2)
Depending upon the multiple outlooks/attitudes of humanity, an age may have several realities/themes, but the dominant idea or motif is called theme of an age. For example, in early times of prehistoric human culture, a great majority of masses used to create tools and weapons through stone, and so, the period was stated as "Stone Age". The reason behind the effort was to defend oneself from natural threats and to survive. The twentieth century, on account of the plethora of scientific knowledge, was called "Scientific Age". Unlike the Stone Age or the Scientific Age, the 21st century's age has multiple realities. These are; economical information, religious harmony and unity of mankind, innovation, mind-power phenomenon, swift communication, cosmic design and interstellar travels, and globalization. The dominant theme of the 21st century will be evaluated on these mentioned realities, which are discussed below, one by one.
Linguistically, a fact or detail about someone or something is information (1). The information age is revolutionized by the increasing importance and availability of abundant information. It is now available to everyone without or with minimal cost or effort. Associating with innovation and technology, information gave birth to internet/intranet, the remote networking between computers. Anyhow, the 21st century will unfold her possibilities through Information Revolution.
Religious harmony is synchronization of people from different religions to develop peace, felicity and unity among mankind. Three most followed religions, called Abrahamic religions, are Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. All the other religions are effective imitations of these Semitic religions. Islam literally means peace. Christianity denotes exhibiting kindness. Judaism connotes just polity. All the religions stipulate their followers to adopt compassion, yet conflicts among them are surfaced owing to irrational beliefs or dogmas, now and then. Likewise, pointless discriminations of caste, race, color and creed amidst masses give rise to horrific disputes. I think the 21st century will reveal her possibilities through constructive interfaith dialogues among religions and creeds.
Lexicon defines innovation as the introduction of new things, ideas or ways of doing something (1). Some say the theme of present age is innovation. Anyone may presume alike after having a glimpse at contemporary advancements. The 21st century's breakthroughs would comprise of extensive use of holographic screens, ample amount of robotics, facility for cloning, identification of cures for several diseases/illnesses, etc. Innovations would be everywhere. It is noteworthy that the very absence of innovation in a society means its absolute annihilation.
A human mind has two parts; conscious and subconscious. Mind-power phenomenon has major concerns with the subconscious division. An idea can be adhered on the subconscious, just as a seed is sowed in a garden. These ideas, corresponding to the process of germination of a seed, steadily grow into a firm base. In the Preface of Mind Power Into the 21st Century, John Kehoe, an author, lecturer, and philanthropist, writes that harnessing the forces of the universe and actively participating in the creative process of making your goals happen is an exhilarating experience (3). It is only possible through mind-power. In our age, the utilization of mind-power techniques will grow in teaching, learning and governing.
Human life is an interdependent phenomenon and communication is a vital reality in this respect. Technically, it is the activity or process of expressing ideas and feelings or of giving people information (1). Whether it is business, family or interpersonal relation, communication is inevitable. It is thought, the principles and modes of communication among individuals/institutions/states will play a decisive role in shaping the dominant motif of the 21st century.
Dictionary's definition of cosmos is the universe. The cosmic design is vast, vast enough to outshine even our imagination. At present moment of time, humanity is incognizant of the complete cosmic design. Will the cosmos end at a certain point or is it a perpetual entity? Does life, similar or dissimilar to us, exist in other parts of the universe or not? Answers to these curious questions are skeptical and conjectural for the time being. Later in this century, time-space explorations and knowledge will enhance radically and exponentially. Frequent and more interstellar travels will transpire which will greatly decide the 21st century's dominant theme.
According to the dictionary, the fact that different cultures and economic systems around the world are becoming connected and similar to each other because of the influence of large multinational companies and of improved communication is globalization (1). Globalization has made room in every society and region. A Nobel laureate of the 21st century, Joseph Stieglitz, an economist from the United States, concisely commented on globalization: "globalization is not working for many of the world's poor. It is not working for much of the environment. It is not working for the stability of the global economy. To some, there is an answer: abandon globalization. That is neither feasible nor desirable. Globalization has also brought huge benefits. It has brought better health, as well as an active global civil society fighting for more democracy and greater social justice. The problem is not with globalization, but with how it has been managed (4)." The last sentence emphasizes that the globalization concept is not wrong; however the strict attachment of meritorious governance with globalization is vital for its massive acceptance and evolution.
The present-day approach of entire humanity, by means of which it exists and progresses, makes up the concept of what we call modern civilization. Civilization is a society, its culture and its way of life during a particular period of time or in a particular part of the world (1). In my proposition, the dominant motif of the 21st century is the sum total idea of unity of mankind and global civilization; we may give a suitable name to it, for example, Humanitarian Globalization or Age of Humanity and Global Civilization. By taking into account the aforesaid notions, we may define the dominant theme of the 21st century as: "the global movement of humanity emerging as a worldwide force animated by civilization to seek abolition to human/state issues and preservation of human/state rights is Humanitarian Globalization."
1. Hornby, Albert Sydney, Anthony Paul Cowie, and Jack Windsor Lewis. 1974. Oxford advanced learner's dictionary of current English. London: Oxford University Press.
2. Muhammad al-Bukhari. 810 - 870. Sahih Al-Bukhari. Uzbekistan. Volume 4, Hadith no. 757.
3. John Kehoe. 1997. Mind Power into the 21st Century. Toronto, Canada.
4. Joseph Stiglitz. 2002. Globalization and Its Discontents. New York, W.W. Norton. Chapter 9, page no. 214.