THE ORGANIZER : That’s me, Walter Szykitka. If you really want to know, I was born in Millville, New Jersey, in 1931. I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, thrown out of school for two years for refusing to salute the flag in 1941 and 1942, returned to school in 1943 when the Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision and said such a punishment was unconstitutional. My formal education ended upon graduation from Millville Memorial High School in 1948. I worked as a truck driver’s helper until 1951 when I took up residence at Bethel, the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York. By the time I left after seven years, I had worked my way up to important administrative duties while simultaneously losing my faith in the religion, its leaders, its teachings, and eventually god himself, herself, itself, whatever. Before departing Bethel, I co-organized all domestic and international group travel to the largest religious convention ever held in New York City, in 1958, when a quarter million Jehovah’s Witnesses filled the seats and overflowed onto the outfields of both Yankee Stadium and the then Polo Grounds across the East River from one another. The highlight of the convention was a one-hour lecture by the president of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the subject: “Can You Live Forever in Happiness on Earth?” He said the answer was, Yes! In any event, it was my introduction into the travel industry where I organized air charters to Europe for student unions and other organizations. I organized the first travel agency ever to be owned by a department store, in this case, Dayton’s in Minneapolis, the company that eventually morphed into Target. Many other travel positions took me to at least 45 countries organizing special-interest group tours and conferences for museums, zoological societies, psychiatrists, medical doctors, teachers, etc. Along the way, I also produced several books, including “PUBLIC WORKS, A Handbook for Self-Reliant Living” that made the New York Times best-seller list. In 1973 I promoted the book on the Mike Douglas Show. Give yourself a laugh by watching that 9-minute appearance on YouTube. Subsequently, I received an informal education in economics while working for twenty years as a researcher and writer with economist Walter H. Diamond. Today, I describe myself as an 87-year-old unreconstructed Sixties liberal Utopian who was radicalized when I landed in Greenwich Village in 1967 amidst the counterculture revolution. I am still living in Manhattan, looking forward to taking advantage of the communications revolution to spread ideas I have long held about the inevitability of the continued positive evolution of human society.
THE BOOK: “THE COMING GLOBAL COALESCENCE represents the culmination of a challenge I set for myself in the late Fifties. It was while I was living and working as a member of the headquarters staff of Jehovah’s Witnesses that I experienced a crisis of faith. Having spent the first 25 years of my life as a true believer, it had been my expectation that during the imminent Battle of Armageddon, the wicked, that is, non-Jehovah’s Witnesses, would be destroyed, and the righteous, that is, Jehovah’s Witnesses, would survive and go on to live forever in a paradise earth, where we would realize the Biblical promise that the lion would lie down peacefully with the lamb. Looking back now, fifty years later, I am amazed that such a scenario could form a central promise of a religious organization with millions of adherents worldwide. Nevertheless, at the time, I also did believe. However, my faith was being challenged on two fronts: the doctrines and the leaders. The idea that people (including children?) will die at Armageddon simply because they’re not Jehovah’s Witnesses made no sense. And as I became personally acquainted with the leadership, it became impossible for me to believe that god had chosen these guys to represent him on Earth as they claimed. So it was inevitable that there would be a tipping point. I don’t remember the date,kn but I do remember the moment lightning struck. I happened to be bending down to return a file folder to its proper resting place in the lower drawer of a file cabinet when – BLAM! – out of nowhere came the realization that it was all a sham, and most importantly, that I WAS NOT GOING TO LIVE FOREVER! What a shock! Now what? My first source of inspiration — don’t laugh — was Frank Sinatra: “I’m going to fill my cup until my number’s up; I’m going to live, live, live until I die.” But what did that mean? Adventure? Physical adventure? Not for me. I’m not a mountain climber, or scuba diver, or downhill racer. What then? How about intellectual adventure? Now that’s more like it. So I set for myself the goal of writing the most consequential book I could come up with, and that meant a book that would change the world for the better. I’ve been working on that book, on and off, ever since, and after fifty-plus years of false starts, revisions, rewrites, etc., in 2011 I finally felt that I had succeeded in putting on paper what I have been striving to say all these years and am now ready to share it with others. THE COMING GLOBAL COALESCENCE is the result.