To the right, you can see the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World as depicted by the 16th-century artist, Marten Heemskerk: Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum of Maussollos, Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria (left to right, top to bottom).
On 7th July 2007, the New Open World Corporation released an updated ‘contemporary version’ of this list amidst a fair bit of controversy; specifically their (non-)profit status, their supposed links with UNESCO, and the voting process. This UNESCO statement, distancing the UN from the initiative, is pretty self-explanatory:
There is no comparison between Mr. Weber’s mediatised campaign and the scientific and educational work resulting from the inscription of sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The list of the 7 New Wonders of the World will be the result of a private undertaking, reflecting only the opinions of those with access to the internet and not the entire world. This initiative cannot, in any significant and sustainable manner, contribute to the preservation of sites elected by this public.
This, coupled with the ambiguity of the corporation’s profit/non-profit status (which is dubious at best) and the fact that votes are ‘bought’ and can be excluded without due cause, makes it all a bit of a debacle. Of course, that didn’t stop the media, and the final list was released to much fanfare: Chichen Itza (Yucatán, Mexico), Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu (Cuzco, Peru), Petra (Jordan), Colosseum (Rome, Italy), Taj Mahal (Agra, India) and the Great Pyramid of Giza (Egypt).
Quite why more ‘modern’ architectural accomplishments made the final seven (Christ the Redeemer, the Colosseum and the Taj Mahal) rather than more wondrous relics such as Angkor Wat (Angkor, Cambodia), Rapa Nui’s Moai (Easter Island, Chile) and Stonehenge (Amesbury, England) isn’t for me to discuss as it’s undoubtedly due to the voting system. What I do want to discuss is a completely different list…
The Seven Blunders of the World, by Mahatma Gandhi
This list was compiled by Gandhi and presented to his grandson on their last day together, shortly before his assassination. I like to think of it as an updated ‘contemporary version’ of the seven deadly sins. It was created as a search for the roots of violence in society – acts of passive violence.
- Wealth without work
- Pleasure without conscience
- Knowledge without character
- Commerce without morality
- Science without humanity
- Worship without sacrifice
- Politics without principle
Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi, later added an eighth ‘blunder’ to the list:
- Rights without responsibilities
If you could ‘vote’ for another, or for the most important of the above, what would you go for? I think it’s an interesting question.