Pope Francis in his Christmas message to the world asked religious and non-religious people, to “make a broad call for global peace and an end to violence “…” urging atheists and followers of other religions to join together in this common cause.”
Is this pope speaking for a majority of the world’s population weary of the wayward spiral of violence?
Is this the time the world community begins reflecting the world economy already in the making?
Globalization — something still not understood but feared — has forced us to think about the rest of the world, not just ourselves. For globalization to work however, as former President Bill Clinton has observed, we need to be sensitive to the social and political values nation to nation as well as the economic opportunities.
The idea that the world has gotten smaller in just the last decade or two is a very real phenomenon. Already, the world is so inextricably interconnected that cultural and economic isolationism is unthinkable, even if it were desirable.
Over the last few decades we were witness to a basic change in our modern day world: the rise the rebirth of the region state, and the resurgence of age old hostilities — racial, tribal and religious strife — that lay just beneath the surface for the last 100 years.
The financial meltdown of 2008 affected every nation in the world; and outsourcing, off shoring and automation is happening not just in the developed economies but every nation struggling to find the lowest cost for goods and services in the “global” marketplace. As further evidence of our connectedness, we know now that almost nothing happens anywhere that isn’t instantly communicated-live and in living color–around the world.
Clearly, much needs to be done, and perhaps the most effective thing is to aggressively promote multicultural understanding. By doing so, perhaps, we can create the world community reflective of the world economy in the making.
In the coming decade, the challenge for humanity will be whether we can come to grips with the idea of world peace, world community, and the notion that despite the differences between us can find common ground.
Given the ubiquitous nature of the worldwide web, we can use the new technologies — with their powerful capacity for shaping and delivering human interchange — as virtual bridges across the vast distances separating cultures.
By the turn of the century and the onset of a new millennium, the Internet changed the way the world communicated with one another around the world, as it changed the structure of the world economy.
While there are countless disciplines, which might reasonably serve as a means to understanding culture, such as history, sociology, mathematics, and science, only art lends itself to the full range of experiential capabilities offered by the new technologies.
Maybe it is naive to say art is the universal language, and that we can open windows for all to see that we are just folks, and that we are one community. But there can be no more distilled expression of a culture than its works of art.
In creating art, consciously or not, artists are attempting to communicate at a powerful emotional level to those within their own culture. The best work transcends its cultural matrix and speaks directly to our common humanity.
Perhaps the art and culture and wonder and beauty in the world -can be something we can respect, honor, grow to appreciate and help serve to begin to understand the differing cultures, religions and values of our world.
Van Deerlin Endowed Chair of Communications and Public Policy and Director of the Creative Economy Initiative, San Diego State University
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