The Clash of Ignorance, the Unstable Political Situations, and the Loss of Culture

In the recent years, the world has seen an unfortunate increase in conflict between the East and the West. After the horrific events on September 11th, 2001, the magnitude of the international strife has increased profoundly. Regrettably, this conflict has multiplied, rendering the global situation direr as the years pass. These conflicts occur due to a combination of factors, which, if remedied, can affect the future in significantly positive way. This is important because these conflicts have already led to millions of deaths and a negative image of both sides in the other’s eyes. The negative image has led to prejudice, anger, and irrational behaviour on the global scale, including acts of terrorism and violence. As the world moves further into a globalized and pluralistic state, the importance of reducing these conflicts becomes more paramount than ever. In order to secure a bright, globally cooperative future, it is necessary to take measure which can alleviate some of the strains which cause conflict.

In an interview with Peter Mansbridge, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s chief correspondent, the philanthropist and spiritual leader known as the Aga Khan IV mentioned a “clash of ignorance” which he believed was the root of the conflict between the eastern and western worlds. He elaborated to say that the lack of knowledge each culture had about the other was creating a divide between the two worlds which was creating problems on both sides. The primary reason for this partition is this “clash of ignorance”. A lack in the understanding of other cultures has led to a misunderstanding of the motives and desires of these cultures, and from that nations and fundamentalist groups have thought it necessary to take action. A textbook illustration of this concept is the invasion of Iraq. While justified, it initiated a chain of events which made reactionaries more committed and enraged. Baghdad is a particularly sacred city in the Islamic faith, and the conquest of it, the extremists believed, was a violation of their religious past. If there was more knowledge regarding the outlook of the inhabitants of Baghdad, conflict would be far less dominant. The only remedy to this is increased education and pluralism, especially in the citizens of the countries. For example, more education in the East about the true morals of the Western World would reveal to the East that the West values global cooperation, international goodwill, and future development. Likewise, more education about the East in the Western World would reveal that those cultures truly value the maintenance of peace, the honour of tradition, and the fostering of success. Augmented understanding of foreign cultures leads to acceptance, and acceptance leads to peaceful resolution.

Another reason for the escalation of conflict is the unstable political situation in many countries, especially in the East. Many regimes have started up which demand political control through violent means, in order to force drastic reverse change to previous times. Other dictatorships have emerged which use force and illegal devices to impose their ideologies on the population. Saddam Hussein’s regime was an effective example of this. As a corrupt leader, he tortured and gassed countless Iraqi citizens. When Hussein’s power was released, the existing discontent combined with the emerging extremist groups spawned a political instability. Hussein’s removal of power was necessary; however, there should have been a different approach to the situation. Saddam was already a corrupt power, and this had already created a situation of instability. An extremely unfortunate factor in this political instability problem is that is can often occur in a positive feedback loop. Corruption or instability causes more instability when it is removed, which in turn will destabilize the country further as the other powers are removed. The only way to solve these types of difficulties is to establish stable forms of government, which must be fair-minded, non-discriminatory, and incorrupt.

One other reason for the intensification of conflict is the phenomenon of global assimilation. Globalization has brought with it a great deal of positive influences, but it has also brought about an assimilation of culture. Many cultures have recently trended towards what many call the “western” culture, especially as the global use of technology increases. It is this loss of local and traditional culture which primarily spurs many reactionaries into wanting drastic change. Unfortunately, they attempt this through violent and dictatorial means. Extremist institutions such as Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah demand backwards change. They are displeased by the forfeiture of their preceding culture, and demand a return to the “good old days” when technology and western influence was minimal. An appropriate solution for this is to establish programs which encourage and assist the conservation of local culture. This can be brought about by establishing trusts for culture, stimulating local media to integrate the local practices, or running regular cultural festivals. Many such systems do currently exist, and magnificent headway has been made in this area. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, for instance, is one institution which aims to preserve local culture while still maintaining global pluralism and trade.

These factors, among others, have had an enormous effect on the global scale. The “clash of ignorance” has created prejudice and knowledge-based barriers which cause misunderstanding of the other side in the East and the West. Simply educating citizens on the customs and beliefs of the other side can drastically reduce this difficulty. Education is the primary solution to solving the global conflicts, as it can eradicate many of the fundamental difficulties that lead to conflict. Many countries, particularly in the East, are in unstable political conditions, which are constantly spiralling downwards. Even when the corrupt government is eradicated, other unofficial and corrupt regimes often take over. Stable administration must be established in such circumstances. Global assimilation due to the effects of globalization has also majorly impacted the global situation, which has prompted extremists who disapprove of such assimilation into action. Local culture, therefore, should be conserved and maintained through trust programs, media stimulation, and active cultural practice. Altering and refining these aspects can allow for a vast improvement in the global situation, eliminating much of the conflict that is occurring. This will not only preclude many deaths, but will additionally eradicate much of the bigotry and preconception on both sides of the globe.

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May 9, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Posted in: Blog, Opinions | No comments

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