Address to the Institute of Canadian Bankers October 16, 1972 We are all aware of the current climate of opinion - the stand of youth of a year ago is public opinion today. The issues are: a questioning of growth and expansion; a stand against industry; a cry against the automobile and its freeways; resistance to urban density and tall buildings - to development and the "developer" as such; and a plea for green spaces, even as far as a return to the wilderness altogether. Reasonable or unreasonable as they may be, they voice a deep disenchantment with the goals and objectives of North American life, such that the manifestations of established values - law, order, government and morality - are all called into question. There is such a degree of fashionableness in this point of view as in every attitude or change in attitude in North America, and it is undoubtedly part of the cyclic nature of our social attitudes. However, behind it are real and lasting problems arising from the phenomena of over-population, resource exhaustion, and environmental pollution, which have brought about a growing and powerful reaction against the historical course of western man. One seriously wonders whether that reaction can be mitigated unless our course in history is changed. It seems that there is little doubt that we are in the midst of a revolution of a much more profound and fundamental nature than the social and political revolutions of the last half century - a revolution so subtle, and yet so encompassing, that we will only gradually (and after the event) be aware that everything has changed - completely changed - and that nothing is as it was before. A revolution of comparable significance happened once before in the history of western man. There is a single thread of attitude, a single direction of flow, that joins our present time to it's early burgeoning in Mediterranean civilization - in the time of Homer and Isaiah - uninterrupted except for one great reversal of the pendulum that started its contrary swing four centuries after the beginning of the Christian era and then, shortly after the year 1000, began its swing back again. That period was known as the "dark ages" - dark from both the previous Greco-Roman period and the subsequent Renaissance period, because nothing happened in terms of the humanistic conquest of the universe - dark because it was a period of "barbarism" preying on the bones of previous civilization - where the human mind and passion was turned inward in the fortress monasteries of Europe, to contemplate the predicted imminent end of the world - dark because human resource was turned to the contemplative rather than the active - a revolutionary change from both the time previous and the time since. Roman civilization ended not "with a bang but a whimper" - and that is the nature of profound revolution. Roman civilization had achieved, within the bounds of its technology, relatively as great a mastery of time and space as we have achieved today. They were just as concerned as we about communications and human comfort: they could send messages by a sentry signal system from Rome to London in a day; the garrison outpost in London boasted the hot and cold baths that one enjoyed in Rome; and cooks trained by Roman chefs, so that the Roman traveler found his needs well prescribed for and well met throughout Europe and western Asia. Rome was as confident of the immutability of its world and the continual expansion and improvement of the human lot as we are today. And all that, the essentially unchangeable established order of things, slowly disappeared and was forgotten for a while completely, not because of the invading hordes of Huns, Goths and Visigoths - they were only the water rushing in through an existing breach in the hull - but because of a change in attitude within the society itself. All those values and institutions which had been precious to Roman civilization - order, justice, material well-being, physical health, the control of nature, the infant sciences and knowhow, the comprehensive planning of the great road networks, waterworks, dams and reclamation projects, control of disease, and so forth - under the pervasive force of a few unarmed dropouts who talked about love, poverty, simplicity, and non-action, and who held a naive but fervent belief - it was all changed - and all that had been before was gone. The temples and banking halls of Rome were turned into churches, and the deserted shells of the great monuments, the baths, the stadia and collisea, were used as quarries for buildings to come. That is the kind of revolution that I am talking about - not the revolutions of social, economic, or political nature that we have seen in this century in Russia and Cuba, which are changes merely in the structure of society, not in its fundamental direction or motivation. Such political and social revolutions do not change the course of the history or destiny of western man, but offer only a slightly different vehicle for that course. They do not constitute a revolution in the beliefs, the values and the meaning of life that changes the interpretation and response to life itself. But what is the thread of western civilization that distinguished its course in history? It is difficult to illuminate briefly, but it has to do with the preoccupation of western man with his outward command and effect on physical matter; it has to do with his sense of superiority in the natural order of things - his egocentricity, in fact, resulting in his most persistent myth: that the universe was created for his own exclusive use. Thus western man has never accepted the inferior role of vassal or agent to a greater design or fate over which he had no control, but rather, believing he could be captain of his destiny, he has determined to find out what made the whole thing work in order to take over the helm. With his strong sense of ego, he reads his history as being the effect of what he has caused. The difference between the outlook of western civilization and medieval or oriental civilization is like the difference between unicellular and multi-cellular organisms, for they, on the other hand, saw man as but a small part of a much larger pattern into which he was inextricably bound. With that concept of complex interdependency, western individualism could not have existed. It is interesting that we have today a fairly thorough knowledge of the early Greco-Roman period - and of the recent period of history from the 14th century on - because our motivations are the same. We understand these periods and can get inside the minds of people then. But though we may know a great deal about that intervening period of the Dark and Middle Ages, it is still mysterious and strange because the motivations were very different. Only recently have we begun to be able to glimpse and comprehend that period, because we ourselves are moving into that mode. Until recently, for instance, we haven't been able to understand at all why the great medieval sculptors seldom signed their work, or why we seldom know who were the authors of the cathedrals. It is one of the greatest periods of inspired art and architecture in human history, and yet it is virtually anonymous. Contrast this to the subsequent Renaissance, studded by the names of the artists and architects, with their creations recorded as great historical events. We can acknowledge, but not comprehend, an order where the individual is insignificant, if not non-existent - not by political edict as in Russia or China, but by profound conviction, as in Japan. That concept could not be more foreign to a culture such as that of North America, hewn out of the wilderness by the individual efforts of its pioneers. God's designs may be frequent justification for our actions, but it is we, the "self-made men", who take the credit. We can appreciate but not really understand the medieval town. We cannot comprehend its compactness, the contiguity of all its buildings as a single uninterrupted whole, with even the palace and the cathedral part of the same fabric as the humblest house in town. We can't comprehend such an acceptance of common purpose, technique and form of expression, as the medieval towns so tightly knotted as to seem a single unified structure. Western history has been a history of deed done, actions performed and results achieved. In its eternally ongoing nature, we can look at any period 50, 100, 1000 years ago, as time past - over and done with. We can't go back - we can't pretend to be Elizabethan or Periclean as well as North American. We regard those other cultures such as that of India, where many people live and believe and behave much as they did 1000 or 2000 years ago - as "undeveloped". We find Japan a little more difficult to understand because it has proven its 20th century prowess though the ancient traditions still persist. We can't understand the phenomenon that in Japan, no part of its history is completely past but is, in a strange way, still continuing in the present - that a Japanese can be American, Elizabethan and ancient Greek, in his own terms, quite legitimately and within the same day. He can be, in western dress, the most astute of modern businessmen, and a t 5 p.m. revert, in the 12th century dress, to the most refined medieval shogun. He can do it without affectation or contradiction to himself or his time, and he can do it profoundly and completely. This, we cannot understand. To us - because we, western man, are hopelessly and helplessly immersed in ourselves and our effect on things - only the immediate present is significant, and in the present the hope for the future. Thus our belief in ourselves, our idealism about what can be accomplished, sends us in an eternal pursuit of perfection - of the transformation of the world into a better one, of the rejection of the past as falling short of that ideal. To us, the oriental is a "non- achiever"; while to the oriental, we are utterly naïve. We are the idealists, the tragic heroes beating the drums of an eternal crusade for a grail that forever eludes us, history's clowns, Shakespeare's "angry apes playing such fantastic tricks before high heaven as make the angels weep". The oriental, on the other hand, is the realist. Being the realist, he is the cynic who accepts human shortcomings having seen the pattern milleniums ago. He is a passive observer to the perpetual flux of things, knowing that change is the only constant, that there is no goal or grail but what already exists. Part of our western outlook, which we must grow out of, stems from the scientific attitude and its method of isolating the parts of a phenomenon in order to analyze them. This has become a universal thought process having the unfortunate results of isolating phenomena from their context. It allows us to pursue an action without relating to its background , or considering its consequences. It has led to the fostering of specialization and has fragmented, disassociated our approach to any issue or any problem. Our cities show the dire consequence of fragmented thinking in their zoning which has split them into a series of ghettos for rich, poor, for office workers, apartment dwellers, etc. Our universities - which should not be called universities but "multiversities" - advocate fragmentation in their course systems. Our enterprise develops industry without thought of social or environmental consequence - or develops a building complex without thought of how it affects the anatomy of the city. Our settlement of land is without regard to the best use of land. Our engineering departments build freeways which destroy a city or a landscape, in the process. All these illustrate an inherited incapacity to act or think comprehensively - to appreciate the larger implications of our actions. But there is evidence that this is changing. There is a slow but increasing awareness of the interrelatedness of things. We are becoming less prone to accept an immediate solution without questioning its larger implications. And perhaps the greatest single influence on the change of attitude has been the issue of the environment and ecology. These are fashionable issues at the moment, short- lived maybe in their present intensity, but out of the environment- ecological issue has come an increasing consciousness of interrelationships of systems. The DDT issue caught us just as we were beginning to poison ourselves as a consequence of poisoning the insects that preyed on our crops; the Aswan dam brought power to Egypt, but affected the very basis of Egypt's existence - changing the fertility of the Nile Valley and eliminating the bountiful fish crop at its mouth. We are learning to be respectful with ecosystems. We are learning that no phenomenon can be isolated but has repercussions through every aspect of our lives. We are learning that we ourselves are a fundamental part of nature's ecosystems, and that the systems that we create inextricably tie into existing systems. We are at the point of having a conscience about our actions, to counter our long history of blind and willful freedom with a more responsible concern. This is by far the most promising development of our recent history. But there is another issue as important as the effect of man on the natural environment and that is the effect of man on his own species. There is another area of conservation of even greater issue, and this is in the area of human culture. Though we may be beginning to restrain the exploitation of nature, we are yet to have a conscience at all about the exploitation of human cultures. We are expanding across the world: the race for air routes laces a network over the globe, leaving hardly an island large enough for a jet strip without the threat of one. And tied into landing rights, are hotel rights, and each jet strip is accompanied by burgeoning caravanseries to house the voracious tourist, as hungry and as indiscriminate as a plague of locusts. Worldwide tourism looms on the horizon as the gravest threat to human cultures - a threat because its ultimate result will be to destroy the very reason for its existence - the variety and interest of the world at large. The tourist, far from being a sensitive explorer, transports his own values and demands to his destinations and implants them like an infectious disease decimating whatever values existed before. It will be an enormous investment down the drain in short order unless precautions are taken now, and on a global scale, to soften this impact. The warning is already out. The huge tourist industry of the Caribbean is suffering because of the reaction of the island people. The Spanish government is concerned about its Mediterranean coast - that remarkable watering place for the whole of Europe, which in ten years went from a rugged sea coast to a continuous Acapulco. Uncontrolled, unplanned development has destroyed the reason for going there in the first place and the government is trying desperately to restore what originally contributed to the vitality of the tourist industry upon which Spain is so dependent. One must admire the perception of President Nyerere of Tanzania in opposing further tourist development in his country in spite of its obvious economic attraction. He understands well the deleterious impact of foreign value systems on a native people whom he is trying to ease into the 20th century in their own way, through their own eyes, and through their own value system. One need not mention the general alarm issued by all those genuinely concerned about the fate of our own Eskimos. Our incapacity to comprehend other cultures stems from our insistence on measuring things in our own terms. We are as guilty as anyone for sending teams of experts into foreign countries to advise them how to be like us. Engineering and economic feasibility studies are the sole basis for launching North American developments on Asian and African soils. No wonder our advisors are no longer that well received in developing countries that have become very wary of mission of goodwill. We go conditioned by our own vision, unable to appreciate and allow for the enormous gap between the very goals we seek. Because North America is polyglot, we have the naivete to believe that all cultures are basically alike. We assume that if someone speaks our language they have automatically adopted our culture and we can communicate, when this is not the case at all. I recall the shock of the intercontinental hotel manager in Tahiti when, after training his Tahitian personnel for several months so that they behaved like intercontinental personnel anywhere, he found, with the hotel full of guests, that one Sunday none of his personnel appeared for work. His training didn't comprise indoctrination in the North American ethic of the virtue of work as an end in itself, whereas the Tahitian was quite happy to go home when he had gained what he considered enough. Tahiti has been spoiled for many years and is no great loss, but there are some very precious cultures whose loss would deprive all of civilization of an insight into the very roots of culture that cannot be provided elsewhere in the world. I speak of Bali and Nepal. Bali, in particular, is one of the few cultures with origins in one of the great ancient cultures which is still alive in our times. Nowhere else in the world does the highly developed musical, dance and art forms still play a vital and central role in community life instead of being relegated to the realm of performance. All other great cultures are in stasis or abandoned. But the World Bank is supporting a 3000-room hotel development whose impact on that island will be terminal. Bali should be under UNESCO as a world museum, or a world park, like our national parks, for conservation - with visitors restricted to those with genuine interest in that culture. Nepal, because of the richness of its monuments is still preserved, since it has only recently been opened to tourism, is another world treasure that looks forward to the same fate. Afghanistan, a country of special arid beauty, is being subjected to large scale tourist planning. At the IDB in Washington, recently, I saw the plans of a tourist hotel for one of the most beautiful valleys in the world, that of Bamiyan. There a multistoried monster will virtually overshadow the 70-foot high Buddhas that were carved in the 2nd century into the cliffs of an ancient Buddhist capital later destroyed by Genghis Khan. I have come to plead for conservation, not of the environment, but of human culture, which is much more fragile than nature herself. We needn't destroy other cultures with the force of our own and destroy, at the same time, the chance to renew ourselves by our experience of them. For our view of the universe is necessarily limited and we need other viewpoints to gain perspective. I have come to plead, also, for the comprehensive approach as the most urgent issue facing us today. We can no longer afford the short term and limited view of things because of the broad impact of the consequences of our decisions. You, as bankers, cannot afford to be concerned with only the economic aspects of projects that you finance. There may be serious implications on the natural environment, on the urban environment, on human culture, which at some future time may even be considered crimes against mankind. As lending institutions, you have enormous power over development in this and other countries, and with that, an enormous responsibility. I am encouraged that the focus of this conference deals with that responsibility - that your influence may help guide development into a full realization of its implications for the general human welfare.