Introduction

To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in the eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers and sisters on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold -- brothers and sisters who know now that they are truly brothers and sisters. --Archibald MacLeish

Within this larger human world the multiple spiritual and humanist traditions implicate each other, and evoke from each other higher developments of which each is capable. These traditions implicate each other for each has a universal mission to humanity. Each is pan-human in its significance. None can be truly itself without the others. Each has a distinctive contribution to human development that can be made only by itself. Each must therefore be kept distinctive even as it reaches a universal diffusion among all peoples. For any tradition to withhold itself from the other societies of humanity or for any to exclude the other traditions is to vitiate and stultify its own tradition and its own developments, to condemn itself to sterile isolation from the only forces that can in these times give it life and creativity. All human traditions are dimensions of each other. If as Christians we assert the Christian dimension of the entire world, we must not refuse to be a dimension of the Hindu world, of the Buddhist world, of the Islamic world. Upon this universal intercommunion of peoples on a global scale depends the entire future human development. This is the creative task of our times, to foster this global meeting of the nations and of spiritual traditions.

The global past of humanity is now the past of each person. We are no longer heirs simply of the Mediterranean traditions. We are the heirs of the human tradition. This human tradition is much larger and infinitely more resplendent than the limited Western past. To deny ourselves this intimate, experiential acceptance of the larger human past is to limit and cripple our present human experience. We can no longer be women and men in any full sense of the word except within this global setting.

The future of humanity is a drawing together and a moving forward of all traditions. It is a gathering of all our human and spiritual traditions in a world-embracing humanism. But while it is a time for harvesting it is also a time for sowing. It is especially a time for dying to all the narrowness of our earlier periods and rebirth in a more resplendent order wherein all people may attain that full expression of themselves that has now become possible.

--Thomas Berry, "Christian Humanism -- Its New Universal Context" (adapted)