|the-south-asian.com AUGUST 2001|
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SOCIETY & CULTURE
societies - Wisdom and Challenges
SOUTH ASIAN FEATURE
and origin of Modern Art
Bengal's last roar?
Page 2 of 5
Traditional Cultures - their wisdom and challenges
"Unfortunately, it is this same diversity, the source of the strength that has allowed us to exist for thousands of years, that nourishes intolerance, hatred, and war. We fear everything that is different, and fear turns us into aggressive beasts. With the exception of religious fanaticism, ethnic conflict is the principal cause of much of the world's hostilities" - Isabel Allende
AN INCREDIBLE CAPACITY for adapting to the environment has allowed the human race to live in the eternal ice of the North Pole, the arid dunes of the Sahara, the sweltering forests of the Amazons, or the translucent heights of the Himalayas. Before every challenge of nature, small clans of humans seek a way to utilize the resources at hand and learn to survive. The social organization also must adapt to circumstances. Among the ancient inhabitants of the Arctic, where women were very scarce, offering one's spouse to the traveler so that he would spend a warm and happy night was a gesture of basic hospitality, whereas among the polygamous tribes of the desert, a single glance at another man's woman meant death. How could a man from the extreme north understand the idiosyncrasy of a Bedouin? How to explain to a wanderer of the Sahara what happens in an igloo during the long night of a polar winter?
UNFORTUNATELY, it is this same diversity, the source of the strength that has allowed us to exist for thousands of years, that nourishes intolerance, hatred, and war. We fear everything that is different, and fear turns us into aggressive beasts. With the exception of religious fanaticism, ethnic conflict is the principal cause of much of the world's hostilities. When the Soviet Union was dismantled, for example, we saw the emergence among nation states of hatred that had lain buried for decades. The atrocities committed in Bosnia against persons who until only shortly before had been neighbors and friends of the perpetrators prove how deeply rooted human aggression can be when turned against those who are not like us. It is much easier to see small differences than to see great similarities. Yet what would humankind be like if we were all the same? We wouldn't be. It ís possible that we would have perished as a species. Carried to the extreme, uniformity would finally destroy us.
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