When former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of himself and the United Nations in 2001, he gave a remarkable speech. In that speech delivered on December 10 — just a few short months after the World Trade Center was destroyed by extremists — he said:
Each of us has the right to take pride in our particular faith or heritage. But the notion that what is ours is necessarily in conflict with what is theirs is both false and dangerous. It has resulted in endless enmity and conflict, leading men to commit the greatest of crimes in the name of a higher power.
Even though this part of his address was discussing the need for greater acceptance and understanding across religious boundaries, it certainly could be applied to other realms of belief and lines of division such as those found in politics, nationalism, academia, race, philosophy… you name it.
Avoiding the “false and dangerous” notions Annan described six and a half years ago sure would go a long way toward opening paths humanity could take in overcoming its most pressing present and future challenges.