The 18th century intellectual revolution (enlightenment) in Europe paved the way for revolutions in Europe and America, solving many problems. These intellectuals that included Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu and Paine disagreed a lot among themselves but the direction and conclusions were clear – absolute rule with divine right, intolerance, abuse of human rights and exploitation were things of the past. Many intellectuals ran into trouble with their governments: were jailed or fled their homeland but never yielded what they stood for.
We had very intense and interactive discussions at the UDU conference in Boston in October 2011. It was realized that there was a severe shortage of information. Our history has distortions, biases, misinformation and misinterpretation of events. It was agreed that civic education should be one of the principal tasks of UDU. It was however stressed that discussions should be civil regardless of the degree of disagreement. None has a right to abuse others with different opinions. I urge that we maintain the spirit of respect for one another especially when discussing controversial topics.