Bridging Global Divides

person holding world globe facing mountain

We live in an era characterized by unprecedented connectivity and yet, paradoxically, also burgeoning divisiveness. This is why, for me, E.B. White’s call in his essay ‘Intimations’ to find individuals “big enough to love the whole planet” reverberates with a profound urgency. White’s words from December 1941 beckon us to envision a society nurtured by individuals capable of transcending parochial interests, instead embracing a more encompassing love for humanity and the Earth. 

As we navigate the complexities of the 21st century, our world is becoming increasingly globalized. Boundaries between nations continue to blur, yet societal fractures seem to deepen. More than ever, the notion of loving the whole planet is not merely poetic, but a pragmatic imperative.

So, let’s explore the implications of White’s proposition in the contemporary context. We must contemplate the necessity of fostering a global perspective cherishing the interconnectedness of all life and the stewardship of our planet.

Demanding holistic solutions

The challenges defining our time demand a response that is both holistic and harmonious. These issues include climate change, economic inequality, geopolitical tensions, and the relentless pace of technological advancements, especially in artificial intelligence. The “next society”, as White envisions, would be one where individuals aren’t confined by the narrow boundaries of nationalism, ethnicity, or other divisive identities. Instead, even by 1940’s sensibilities, he saw the necessity for humanity to instead be propelled by a sense of global citizenship.

To love the whole planet is to appreciate the intricate web of life that binds us all. We must understand that any actions taken in one corner of the globe will reverberate with consequences felt worldwide. So, we must work together to foster empathy, not just for those within our immediate circles, but for individuals and communities across continents, cultures, and creeds. 

This step forward in global brotherly and sisterly love calls for a radical shift in perspective. The well-being of our planet and its non-human inhabitants must take precedence over individual or nationalistic gains. So, cultivating such widespread love is no small feat. 

The first step would require a new educational paradigm nurturing critical thinking and empathy from a young age. Individuals both young and old must be encouraged to see beyond their immediate surroundings and to appreciate the beauty and diversity of our world in its entirety. 

The second step towards this sort of global love means dismantling systems that perpetuate inequality and environmental degradation. Our society must learn to value sustainability and justice above all else.

Thirdly, the media and arts also have a significant role to play in shaping this new consciousness. Our stories and arts must foster a sense of unity and shared destiny, helping to break down cultural and language barriers. We can’t allow ourselves to simply be amused by cheap, derivative entertainments. Rather we must learn to better recognize those works which demonstrate a universal appreciation for the richness of human experience and the fragility of our planet.

Cultivating a healthy global perspective

Our digital age offers a unique opportunity to foster this global perspective in ways that E.B. White could never have imagined. The internet can be a powerful tool in cultivating this sense of global community. As we learned through the struggles of the pandemic quarantines, many of us discovered how easily we can connect, collaborate, and learn from each other from the comforts of our own homes. 

Since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever cross geographical and cultural boundaries every single day. AI tools have made it possible to break down language barriers even more easily than ever. Yet, with all these technological conveniences, this sort of interconnectedness through digital platforms also comes with some sizable risks. Misinformation and polarization can spread rapidly through social networks, exacerbating divisiveness and mistrust. Therefore, digital platforms must be harnessed responsibly, promoting dialogue and understanding rather than allowing and even encouraging discord.

Also, to love the whole planet means embracing a sense of humility, recognizing the limits of human knowledge, especially when it comes to the complexity of our natural world. Like White, we must approach the Earth with a sense of reverence and wonder, acknowledging our role as stewards rather than masters. Adopting such a perspective encourages a more harmonious relationship with the environment, where conservation and sustainability are valued over exploitation and short-term gains. White saw the beginnings of our industrialized follies towards the end of his own life, and things have gotten much worse on that front since he passed in 1985.

Answering E.B. White’s Call for a World United in Universal Love and Understanding

Many may regard White’s 1941 essay in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan as outdated in scope. But, E.B. White’s call to find individuals capable of loving the whole planet still resonates with a profound urgency in the 21st century. His imagination wasn’t limited by the boundaries of time and was instead boosted by common sense and a love of liberty and human ingenuity.

The “next society” that White suggested isn’t a utopian dream, but rather a necessary vision for a world grappling with unprecedented challenges and opportunities. In many ways, the world in which Hitler and the Axis powers were causing havoc on an historical level isn’t all that different from the turbulent world we live in today. 

This is why I’m responding so passionately to White’s call to action, may it be eighty years in the offing. It urges us to transcend our narrow confines and to embrace a more encompassing, holistic love that seeks to heal rather than divide. We must choose to nurture rather than exploit, to choose unity over fragmentation. 

I write these words just as White once did, to plant the seeds of hope for a more compassionate, just, and sustainable world. Love for the whole planet isn’t just a lofty ideal. If humanity hopes to survive this century, it must become a living, breathing reality.

~ Amelia Desertsong

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
Back To Top