Barbara Ward

[To the cultures of Asia and the continent of Africa] it is the Western impact which has stirred up the winds of change and set the processes of modernization in motion. Education brought not only the idea of equality but also another belief which we used to take for granted in the West-the idea of progress, the idea that science and technology can be used to better human conditions. In ancient society, men tended to believe themselves fortunate if tomorrow was not worse than today and anyway, there was little they could do about it.

Casually, unconsciously, but with deadly effectiveness, western man all round the globe destroyed the traditional gods and the ancient societies with his commerce and his science. … Does it mean nothing to him if great areas of the world, where western influence has been predominant, emerge from this tutelage unable to return to the old life, yet unfitted for the new? It is hard to believe that the future could ever belong to men demonstrating irresponsibility on so vast a scale.

human

There is no human failure greater than to launch a profoundly important endeavour and then leave it half done. This is what the West has done with its colonial system. It shook all the societies in the world loose from their old moorings. But it seems indifferent whether or not they reach safe harbour in the end.

We cannot cheat on DNA. We cannot get round photosynthesis. We cannot say I am not going to give a damn about phytoplankton. All these tiny mechanisms provide the preconditions of our planetary life. To say we do not care is to say in the most literal sense that “we choose death.”

On the one hand, we are faced with the stewardship of this beautiful, subtle, incredibly delicate, fragile planet. On the other, we confront the destiny of our fellow man, our brothers. How can we say that we are followers of Christ if this dual responsibility does not seem to us the essence and heart of our religion?