`If Utopian dreams leave humanity .. . Houston It was an extraordinary gathering in an extraordinary setting. Five men a Brazilian archbishop, a Florentine professor of law and three American scientists met recently at the Rothko Chapel for s ome high-powered deliberations on human reality and morality. Outside the Chapel stands Barnett Newman’s sculpture, “The Broken Obelisk.” dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although the obelisk points skyward like its Egyptian predecessors, it maintains a very precarious balance and its pillar is broken and jagged at the top. The scuplture served as an effective symbol for the meeting, which was held on the 25th anniversary of the United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights. THE GATHERING was the brainchild of Dorn Helder Pessao Camara, the Catholic archibishop of Olina and Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, one of the poorest areas in the world. In his letter of invitation, Dom Helder explained, “to read and re-read the Declaration [of Human Rights] and to Compare it with the concrete reality of today’s world evokes sentiments of shame about man’s actions unto man; a shame which leads to the refusal to abdicate and to the desire to act amidst despair: to make a simple gesture that is concrete and human, and willrekindle hope.” All five participants expressed concern that the world is facing unprecedented crisis. “There is a feeling of passing through the narrows, of holding tenuously together, of just barely making it,” said Dr. Joel Elkes, director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavorial Sciences at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md. Dr. Jones Salk, developer of the polio vaccine, said humanity is in a “tunnel of darkness.” And Dr. Jack Calhoun, chief of the section on behavioral systems, Laboratory of Brain Evolution and Behavior, National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., described the present situation as a “mega crisis a time of evolution and human development.” Dr. Giorgio La Pira, professor of Roman law and institutions at the Universtiy of Florence, echoed Dorn Helder’s sense of hope, acknowledging “an intuitive perception that something has ended and that we have to work to build a new humanity based on fraternity, grace, justice, poetry and beauty.” The Chapel was the perfect place for such a gathering. The austere, octagonal building shelters 14 large paintings by the late Mark Rothko. The somber canvasses are monochromes ranging from red/ black 10 The Texas Observer to plum/brown to the magnificent wine color of the central panel. The effect has been described as a “visual silence.” Dr. Salk sensed a “transcendental” aspect that gave the meeting “the quality of a happening.” He said, “This is theatre as it should, in fact, be performed.” Salk produced a slide show on one of the walls of the Chapel. His graphs illustrating the evolutionary processes of certain animal and insect species were chosen to reveal “an order of nature, the Scriptures of nature, which must also exist in human nature,” he explained. Next, Salk showed charts depicting the rapid acceleration of the human population. “To survive, a species must obey the laws of nature,” he said. “Our resources and our growth rate must somehow be balanced.” The scientist theorized that the human race is moving from what he calls Epoch A to Epoch B. Right now, we are at the critical and decisive point between the two epochs. “Nature is calling for value changes,” he said. Epoch A was anti-death. Epoch B must be pro-life. While the world used to be anti-disease, it must now be pro-health. Death control must be replaced by birth control; self-repression by self-expression; external restraint by self-restraint. According to Dr. Salk, humanist scientists will learn to deal with the new values through what he calls “Metabiology,” a science which will attempt “to relate the nature of human life to life in general, including the transcendental life.” The old “either/or” attitude must be replaced by an “and” attitude, he said. “Intellect and intuition must be developed together.” DR. ELKES called on his listeners “to think through the consequences of scientific evolution.” He said, “We are a totally interconnected system [in which] morality is a totally mandatory device for survival. .. . We need to devise a science of morality.” Elkes believes that modern society has failed at the personal level. People have abandoned direct communication and “the language has become counterfeit,” he said. The family has relegated its personal responsibility to teach children how to deal with society. Teaching is done by schools and the media and children learn academically and didactically rather than through personal experience. The psychologist says he is encouraged by young people because they have “radar that scans and knows what is coming.” Recognizing that the language is counterfeit, the young people resort to music as an “anti-language.” They turn to Eastern philosophies as a way of “reaching out for the cosmic connection.” Elkes’ hopes for the future include the reestablishment of the family as a vehicle for social learning; new kinds of schools, probably without walls; and lowering of the “barriers” of ideology and bureaucracy. He is encouraged by new media such as music, videotape \(“which two-way cable systems. “In the next stage of social and personal evolution,” Elkes said, “we come to the point where we have no choice but to become increasingly more aware and less afraid aware of the within, aware of the without, aware of their complexity and interconnectedness.” While the scientists talked of transcendental issues, Dom Helder, the Catholic radical, spoke of politics. The 64year-old archbishop is a leading opponent of the military dictatorship in Brazil and an untiring defender of the rights of his landless parishoners. In 1970, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference gave him the Martin Luther King Medal for his advocacy of a non-violent revolution for the poor. According to Reuters, the English wire service, Dorn Helder’s statements are prohibited from publication in the Brazilian press under national censorship laws. Although his international reputation provides the archbishop with a certain immunity from the military junta, less renowned churchmen and some of his own parishoners have’ been arrested, tortured and sometimes put to death in recent years.