In this sane and salutary philosophical tome, the unconventional artist and writer Frederick Franck ponders the meaning of the human adventure. The enterprise is sparked by an invitation to present a paper at a 986 International Symposium in Japan whose theme is "Creating the Future of Humanity." Franck celebrates the common virtues that are at the core of all the world's wisdom traditions: honesty, justice, prudence, charity, and fortitude. But sadly enough, these character qualities are under attack from large political, business, and military institutions that are committing what Franck calls "capital crimes against humanity." The fallout from runaway capitalism, corporate crime, misdirected technology, and rampant warfare shows itself in the poisoning of rivers, streams, and oceans; the destruction of the rain forests; hunger and widespread poverty; the dumping of toxic wastes at home and in so-called Third World countries; work-related disabilities; death squads and ethnic cleansings; and terrorism. According to Franck, the toll of these "antihuman crimes" is staggering.
Now more than ever before, Franck urges, we must treat all life as sacred. We must consider everything we do in light of the well-being of the seven generations to follow us. Franck's portrait of humanity's shadow is somewhat similar to the question asked by Goya's servant: "Why do you draw these horrible pictures, sir?" The Spanish artist replied: "To say again and again to people: once and for all, stop being barbarians." Even more to the point is this: "What is meant by the Light?" Nikos Kazantzakis asked himself, and found the answer: "To gaze with undimmed eyes into all darkness."