By Ruth Barnett

The human ‘family tree’ is amazing, whether you trace it back to Eve and Adam or to evolution from earlier primates. What about Humanity’s future? The world is changing so rapidly that it is hard to imagine the world of our great-grandchildren. Think how your great-grandmother would find our world today with so much digital technology, big cities and globalised communication; and now multiply this rate of change by ten for your great-grandchildren’s world. There are so many exciting possibilities for a brilliant future for the human race. The final explosion of our Sun, in something over 4 billion years, will not matter. Humans have already landed on the moon and circled the Earth in space shuttles. They may reach Mars within another decade. Sooner or later humans will colonise other planets in the Milky Way, and perhaps even further.

Sadly, we have made a tragic mess of Planet Earth. It need not have been so but it will surely happen again on a brand new planet unless we learn to control the demons and nurture the angels we also have in our human nature. Too many world leaders sacrifice the lives of millions of their own as well as other nations’ people in the interests of power and making money. Too many citizens the world over choose to be passive bystanders, persuading themselves either its none of their business or they can’t so anything about it. It is these passive bystanders who are responsible for creating the impunity for perpetrators to commit atrocities. However, they can choose to become active upstanders and protest at what is clearly wrong and unacceptable.

It is almost too late. Many countries have stocked up huge arsenals of ever more destructive weaponry and the human race is in mortal danger of self-destruction. This has been the exciting stuff of science fiction stories and films for the last two centuries and more. But now it is all too real a possibility. There are many other possibilities Humanity can choose if more people wake up to the increasing danger and realise that humanitarian education is the way forward. There have been just enough decent human beings to keep Humanity from self-destruction up to now. We must make sure there will be enough decent human beings to carry it on into the distant future.

The Anne Frank Trust UK is one of the important organisations that offer educational materials and projects for schools to address the demons: stereotyped prejudices that lead to mistrust and hatred and untamed misunderstood aggression that leads to violence out of control, vengeance, wars and genocide. The Anne Frank Trust Ambassador project offers an understanding of the Holocaust through Anne Frank’s story, a valuable item of real education that schools have little time to provide while the focus is on training students to pass exams. This project also gives students a good foundation for understanding individual responsibility, especially R2P (Responsibility to Protect), the lack of which makes our present structure of International laws and rules so weak.

About The Guest Editor

Ruth Barnett was born in 1935 in Berlin, Germany. In 1939, aged four, Ruth and her seven-year-old brother arrived in the UK on the Kindertransport. Ruth is now an author, a trained psychotherapist and tours schools and colleges across the UK telling her testimony, highlighting the importance of education as a tool to combating prejudice and discrimination.