We often misjudge the importance of an event, or what it portends, from the small and seemingly innocuous way it begins and comes to our notice. Who could imagine, for instance, looking at the majestic redwood trees that they sprout from a tiny seed, or that the grand spreading oak tree begins from an acorn. Similarly, the advent of the League of Nations represents a watershed event in human history, as it represented the first global attempt to bring humanity together to try to resolve issues through collaboration rather than conflict. The failure of this specific bodily form for the idea of human unity was not a defeat of the concept; rather, it was a sign that the form was not yet correctly developed and solidly based. It took another worldwide conflagration to emphasize the importance of developing a mechanism for interchange, communication and discussion as an alternative to world war. The founding of the United Nations after the end of World War II represented then another chance of embodiment for an idea that was driving towards manifestation. The United Nations itself is not a perfect form, certainly, and the concept has been distorted by the existence of veto power exercised by dominant world powers to protect their own egoistic vested interests. Yet, the process continues and the United Nations certainly represents an advance on the tentative steps taken by the League of Nations.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “At the time when this book was being brought to its close, the first attempt at the foundation of some initial hesitating beginning of the new world-order, which both governments and peoples had begun to envisage as a permanent necessity if there was to be any order in the world at all, was under debate and consideration but had not yet been given a concrete and practical form; but this had to come and eventually a momentous beginning was made. It took the name and appearance of what was called a League of Nations. It was not happy in its conception, well-inspired in its formation or destined to any considerable longevity or a supremely successful career. But that such an organised endeavour should be launched at all and proceed on its way for some time without an early breakdown was in itself an event of capital importance and meant the initiation of a new era in world history; especially, it was an initiative which, even if it failed, could not be allowed to remain without a sequel but had to be taken up again until a successful solution has safeguarded the future of mankind, not only against continued disorder and lethal peril but against destructive possibilities which could easily prepare the collapse of civilisation and perhaps eventually something even that could be described as the suicide of the human race. Accordingly, the League Nations disappeared but was replaced by the United Nations Organisation which now stands in the forefront of the world and struggles towards some kind of secure permanence and success in the great and far-reaching endeavour on which depends the world’s future.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pg. 309