Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Meditations: Past and Future Diversity

Meditations (Politics) - From Martin LeFevre in California

Past and Future Diversity

When I first came to California from Michigan, over 30 years ago as a 19-year-old leaving home, it felt like a different country, where people spoke the same language. Since then, and especially in the last decade, the world has felt like the same country, but one in which people speak different languages.

Before jet travel became routine, the differences between the states in the United States were significant and sometimes striking. These days we would call those differences 'diversity.' Now you can go from a motel and mall in one state to a motel and mall in another state and see the same people with the same mentality buying the same stuff.

To the extent it still exists, diversity is only to be found in formerly exotic places rapidly being trampled down to uniformity by globalization and tourism. Though there is no way to measure it, I wonder if the degree of diversity between countries is now roughly equivalent to what it was in the States 40 years ago.

All the talk about diversity just serves to highlight how rapidly it is being lost. Discussions of diversity are often synonymous with difference, which lend themselves far too easily to accentuating division. However, underlying true diversity are the principles of intactness, cohesiveness, and comprehensiveness of peoples and cultures. Difference is secondary, and division has nothing to do with it.

Human cultures, whether aggressive or peaceful, came into being of a piece over time. The diversity of cultures developed through a rich and non-compartmentalized interplay between material, religious, social, artistic, and political life. Some degree of geographic or ethnic isolation was involved, allowing a distinct people and culture to emerge. That physical isolation is no longer possible.

Cultural clash and conflict have always been the rule in human society. The massive disruptions and devastations that occurred during the colonial era were not unique, but extensions of what had been happening since well before the first civilizations. In short, while not all peoples and cultures have been rapacious conquerors, that is by far the predominant pattern in human history and pre-history.

Now, a single globalizing culture sweeps everything before it. Though multinational corporations are promoting and benefiting from this process, no one group or sector is behind it.

Globalizing culture is a new phenomenon in human history. It threatens to make everyone the same and turn the earth into a featureless plain unless a new conception of culture takes root.

The human potential is determined by the thickness and richness of the soil, the result of many layers of genetic and cultural influence laid down over thousands of years. That soil has been denuded in the West, and is being rapidly eroded everywhere else in the world. This is the subtext of much of the talk about diversity, concealing the fact that it is dwindling as fast as the rainforests of South America.

Since diverse peoples and cultures developed subconsciously over centuries, and since before the modern age people did not separate religious, artistic, political, and social life into compartments, what remains of human diversity cannot be preserved by hanging onto the remnants of the past. That tendency, carried to the extreme, is the basic drive of fundamentalism, wherever it exists. It not only further corrupts a people and tradition; it accelerates their deterioration and demise.

Then what preserves and encourages diversity? Counter-intuitively, the more a person and people embrace the wholeness of humanity, the more their culture and uniqueness are preserved and enhanced. To be sure, they change, but change is the first law of life. The crucial point is that they change from within, and in accordance with what is right for them as a people and culture, rather than being uprooted and torn asunder either through assimilation or resistance.

Can we seize the new phenomenon of globalizing culture, seeing what is false and rejecting it, while seeing what is true and having faith in it? Whether this approach would be workable with, for example, the Chinese onslaught against Tibetan people and culture, I don't know. But resistance to the globalizing culture is futile.

Human consciousness has reached the limit of the fragmentation it can bear without breaking down entirely. However, people can venerate the past without clinging to it, so that a new kind of culture, neither traditional nor consumeristic, flowers.

************

- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: martinlefevre@sbcglobal.net. The author welcomes comments.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news