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As first Truly global century draws to a close, Common experiences link much of mankind

Torrent of innovation webs together human race; coming next: But... was Dickens right?

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Nov. 24 - Poor Dickens! His opening words in "A Tale of Two Cities" are likely to be commandeered by innumerable writers trying to sum up the 20th century.

For wasn't this, indeed, the best of centuries and the worst of centuries?

It was clearly both. But, arguably, the best outweighed the worst. Humanity did progress apace, harvesting the myriad fruits of the knowledge explosion. It also tried, fitfully, to devise institutions to prevent future germination of the dark fruits that blighted the century: genocides, world wars, the Great Depression, environmental recklessness.

During the 20th's triumphant and tragic course, the human race not only learned to fly (not just balloon) above the surface of the planet, but left Earth entirely for mankind's epic first ventures into the universe. In little more than half a century, flight speed rocketed from 6.8 miles per hour at Kitty Hawk to 17,500 m.p.h. at Cape Canaveral.

Humans literally took off for the first time in history. And the liftoff acceleration was mirrored in many earthbound fields. We sped toward a global civilization - linked by a floodtide of inventions, experiments in peacekeeping and global rule-making,

surging trade, and rapid communications.

Life was quantifiably better for a larger portion of the planet's people than ever.

By mid-century, French phi-lospher Raymond Aron glimpsed what he called "the dawn of universal history." That meant all of mankind at last starting to write on - and read off - the same page.

By century's end, the dawn of universal history had edged toward noon. (But not without casting heavy shadows.) The human race - with all its distinct ethnic tongues, foods, costumes, customs, and prejudices - moved perceptibly closer to one address. Call it

Jeans, Zines, cuisines


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