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Science and technology have achieved incredible advances in the last hundred years. From spaceships to television, from nuclear weapons to enormous advances in health and in the life-span, it can be said that in the past century humanity has advanced more than in the previous one thousand years. And the pace of progress keeps accelerating. There is one field, however, where there seems to have been no progress whatsoever. Yet it could be argued that this field, where humanity is lagging behind, might be the most important of them all.

We are talking about the lack of progress in the mentality of human beings -- what we wish for, how we think, how we organize our lives and the institutions of society. And yet, because of our advances in science and technology, we are now responsible not only for our individual well-being, but for the future of humankind, and the planet in which we live. Unless we apply our minds with the ingenuity that has resulted in spaceships and nuclear warheads to the art of living together in peace, of enjoying life without exhausting the environment in which we live, the future of our race -- and of the beautiful world we have inherited -- is in danger of being obliterated. The motivation of our project is to take a first step in the direction of bringing the resources of scientific investigation to bear on one of the major human problems: the use of violence to resolve conflicts.

In Colombia, the discrepancy between the potential for well-being and its realization has been quite obvious in the past few generations. A country blessed by nature with beauty and wealth has become riven by fratricidal violence, turning a Garden of Eden into a place where fear and hatred reigned. Unfortunately, there is no clear way out of this predicament. Science has not progressed enough in providing knowledge that can be easily applied to conflict on such a scale.

Here is where the new scientific perspective of Positive psychology and related disciplines could make a very important contribution to the future. By better understanding the motivations that propel human beings to action, we might help change the more primitive reasons that kept people working together as members of civil societies into consciously committed, creative agents of a better future.

Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi

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