Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, our planet has sailed through the universe of time. And for a brief moment, we have been among its many passengers. From the very beginning, we have always sought to reach out to one another. To bridge the gaps between us. To communicate.
Across a lonely, hostile planet, our early ancestors spread out in search of food and shelter.
With the development of language came a vital key to our survival. For the first time, we could share and learn from one another. We bonded together in small tribes and prospered. No longer isolated, no longer alone.
Ages later, the Egyptians invented the first written communications, a complex language of hieroglyphic pictures and symbols. With the creation of papyrus scrolls came the world's first piece of paper. Now, without ever leaving their palaces, pharaohs could deliver proclamations and decrees to subjects across the land.
Phoenician merchants established the earliest commercial highways, trading goods and information at distant ports of call. To aid in record keeping, they created the first common alphabet and shared this new tool across the Mediterranean.
In ancient Greece, the spoken word was elevated to a fine art. Philosophers debated with one another in plazas and storytellers found a new forum for personal expression. The theater was born.
The mighty Roman empire bridged three continents with a vast system of roads, the fastest information highways the world had ever known. East, west, north, and south, all roads led to Rome.
But these same roads were turned against Rome by invaders whose destruction left ages of knowledge and wisdom in the ashes that would become the Dark Ages.
But all was not lost, for far across the land, from Cairo to Cordoba, Jewish teachers and Islamic scholars continued the quest for knowledge. In libraries of wisdom, they debated ideas and shared new discoveries with all who would listen.
In western abbeys, monks toil endlessly in lonely isolation copying ancient books of wisdom and revelations for future generations.
Finally, from the depths of the Dark Ages came the Age of Enlightenment - the Renaissance. And with this era, came a powerful new invention - the moveable type printing press.
Scientists, explorers and scholars spread their discoveries in books and essays. Poets, musicians and artists fueled by the passion of the age created timeless works of beauty and majesty.
On this wave of inspiration, we sailed into a bold, new era of communication bringing an explosion of tools and technologies which would bridge people around the world as never before. And as our appetite for information and knowledge grew, the world began to shrink. Today, we possess the ability to connect with one another instantly anywhere on the planet.
A new communications super network is being built before our eyes. Spaceship Earth glows with billions of interactions carrying news and information at the very speed of light.
But will these seemingly infinite communications become a flood of electronic babble? Or will we use this power to usher in a new age of understanding and co-operation on this, our Spaceship Earth.
Physical distance is no longer a barrier to communication. Today the entire world is our next door neighbor. Our news is their news, their news ours. We share our hopes and concerns with the whole planet. We truly live in a Global Neighborhood.
Wondrous new tools will help us learn more about ourselves, each other, and the planet we share. Spaceship Earth will become our virtual classroom.
As we greet the 21st century, yet another revolution in communication is upon us, as profound as all the progress that has come before. By using our new communication tools to build better bridges between us, we will discover we all share the common bonds of hope and sorrow, dreams and joys.
Since the dawn of recorded time, communication has revolutionized our lives and changed our world. We now have the ability and the responsibility to build new bridges of acceptance and co-operation between us; to create a better world for ourselves and our children as we continue our amazing journey aboard Spaceship Earth.