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For centuries, differences have kept us apart. Human beings have long feared the "other," the unknown. Our tendency has been to congregate among those who most resemble us - in ethnicity, religious faith, cultural practice, and political ideology - at the expense of true understanding of those unlike us. Lack of understanding leads to fear and distrust; in extreme cases, war and genocide result.
Yet our world is also ever-changing. Where centuries ago, geographic isolation allowed distinct groups of people to "coexist" with minimal interaction, such is hardly the case today. Distances between us have decreased with development of the automobile, air travel, and other modern technologies (including most recently the Internet). In addition, our problems are increasingly global. Environmental challenges cross the borders we draw on our maps; our economies are interlinked. Our global population - which hit 1 billion just 200 years ago - has in the past 80 years surpassed the 2 billion, 3 billion, 4 billion, 5 billion, and 6 billion marks. Nuclear warheads threaten entire nations and continents at once.
In effect, cooperation among our planet's nations and people is required unlike never before - yet we're too often stuck in the ways of old, maintaining policies and attitudes that reflect bygone eras and conflicts. Even in America - the country founded on those enduring self-evident truths, "that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among those are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness..." - our actions too often fail to live up to our professed ideals. We work to protect the rights and improve the lives of Americans, often ignoring the other 6 billion human beings alive today.
ONEWORLDIMAGES.COM was created to explore and (in some small way) address this issue. In spite of our changing world, we still lack deep understanding of those of other nations, faiths, and cultures. We continue to cling to our own; our fear of the "other" persists. This site was created to chip away at that fear, to increase awareness of our global community. The photographs and text presented here will - if nothing else - provide evidence that beauty and human decency can be found in every corner of the globe.
The following lines are from Gitanjali, a collection of verses by the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. While written with the poet's own country and era in mind, the words are no less applicable to our 21st century world. Indeed, every line reflects the underlying philosophy of this site - and my own personal hope for America today. I invite you to explore the slideshows, composite images, and other components of this site - with the following words in mind:
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action --
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.