The Poor Little Rich World
The United States is about to enter a stage of cultural and economic ascendancy so colossal that all the rest of the world (with a very few nations excepted) will soon stand as primitives in American eyes. Such is the conclusion drawn by Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber in his celebrated book, “The American Challenge.”
That “rest of the world,” meanwhile, has also been talked about lately. On an American lecture tour, scientist-philosopher-writer C . P. Snow has made the grim prediction that an age of harsh famine is about to descend upon the less advanced nations—comprising most of the human race.
It is both unrealistic and trite to say at this point that the U. S. must be prepared to share its wealth if humanity is to be saved from darker times. (We say “darker” because this decade—in fact, this whole century—has hardly been bright by anyone’s standards.) Nor is it true that a change in institutions, such as socialization, will make much difference. Recent events in Eastern Europe have demonstrated how powerful the sense of national existence is, in spite of 50 years of “world socialism” in Russia, and 20 years of the same in Czechoslovakia and elsewhere.
What could save mankind from a bitter and barbarous future—in which America will be barbarized no less than her neighbors, in many ways aside from simple association—is a change in the world view of contemporary man. Western thinkers have recently returned from a 2,000 year idyll with the teachings of Jesus Christ, and have reverted to various systems of consciousness which—either pragmatically, as in the Church and the ecumenical movement, or overtly, as in scientific atheism—exclude God from the center of existence. But that no such system has produced a single formula for contentment is a readily observable truth.
There are sufficient resources in the world, if taken as a whole, to support the human community adequately. But what “adequate” means is to be questioned. And, as we go into 1969 with all our schemes for the relief of poverty and suffering, we may also ask what “rich” means, what “poor” means, what “happy” means, what “wretched” means…
The answers to these questions, if we obtain them, could decide the course of human history.
We at BACK TO GODHEAD have made it our policy to offer mankind these answers, as they are to be found in the Vedic scriptural literature of India, because we have discovered that that is where the answers lie. In the realization of the supremacy, the beauty and the loving kindness of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the fulfillment of the individual human life is to be had. We say this not because it is written somewhere. We could hardly speak reasonably to an analytical, skeptical generation in such terms. But we say it because it is entirely possible for each individual to achieve that realization, that direct, personal confrontation with the Lord, for himself. And we hold the Vedic texts as sacred because, in quite pragmitic terms, they work, they do lead the way to God realization—”Krishna Consciousness,” as our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, has styled it.
The fulfillment of the individual means the fulfillment of the nation and race. This fulfillment can be economic as well as spiritual, as the Vedic writings do not neglect to state. We urge our readers to study these writings with no more than an open mind; we neither ask nor require a suspension of the reasoning faculty. “Sri Ishopanishad,” presented in two parts beginning this issue, is an example of the sublime and exquisite wisdom of the ancient seers as it can be applied to the problems of our time. Such texts, if studied by the serious members of the human community today, can offer the way to a future for all men—for all life on this planet—which will be both bright and supremely rewarding. And, as Lord Chaitanya, the Apostle of Love of God, has said, “there is no other way.”